Wow, it’s been a long day and I have about three hours of work to do tonight due to a rush job coming in that I couldn’t turn down. Zzzzz.
I was up earlier than I would have liked and got to work making scrambled eggs for Puppy. I show him the egg in the shell and he gets super excited knowing what’s coming. He sits outside the door, nose pressed up against the glass, as I make them, then pop them in the fridge to cool down. I always get a nuzzle of thanks before he gobbles them down. I also had a treat this morning as I’d picked up a croissant yesterday, which I enjoyed with blackberry jam. For some reason, blackberry jam is easy to find here in plain old non-fancy store brands, but not raspberry. Maybe it’s because of the cooler name, zarzamora versus frambuesa? 🙂 I usually buy strawberry, but was sick of it, so blackberry was a welcome change.
Then, I thought I’d get some of that work done, but I ended up having to spend some time on the phone with my bank to figure out what was going on with an account-to-account transfer I’d made. Turns out, they’re having trouble with their systems, my money is safe, and while I don’t need to be accommodated, they would have found a way to do so if it was needed. My 25-year love affair with CIBC continues.
I then did only a teeny bit of the job because I had a few chores to do before leaving at about eleven as I had a meeting just north of Centro at noon. Of course, this was the day that there was a massive accident on the short cut road to Mérida and I had to detour by way of Progreso.
Here’s a map of the day:
The meeting was at the Slow Food market. This market is part of an international movement where folks can show off local, organic, and fair trade fare. To my surprise, it was actually Google Maps-able and super easy to get to, with plenty of parking. I really can’t wait to go and spend some proper time there, but I was looking at several more hours in the city, so it didn’t make any sense to shop. I was only there to pick up a bag of books I found on the local garage sale site. I got all six for $650, which is a very good deal (Spanish books, like French, are super expensive so even used, they’re not a great bargain). I now have enough Spanish reading material to get me through the apocalypse. 🙂 Before anyone says anything, I prefer paper for Spanish because I take notes in the books as I read.
I had a bit of a poke around and popped into a shop right by my truck to look at purses. I love my leather tote, but it’s super heavy and the top doesn’t close. So I’ve been casually looking for another bag, but not willing to invest in one. This one caught my eye immediately, in a sturdy plasticky material (probably the same kind of thing used to cover outdoor furniture), but very lightweight. It had a zipper on top and a large pocket within. The sales lady said that the handles, pull tab, and top flap (which, frankly, I could do without) are real leather (a sniff test confirmed it). It’s handmade and has a “lifetime” guarantee. I had a look at the price tag and, as expected, the price was up there, $2,500. No… wait. there’s another zero and the decimal is actually here. “$250?” I asked the clerk. “Yes, since it only has very little leather.” SOLD. That’s 19CAD, or about 14USD!
Off I went then to the iShop at Altabrisas to pick up my new iPhone 5C! There, I got help setting it up and taking the chip out of my 6 to make sure the 5C could register it. Except for the serial number, the new one is identical. It has a 90-day guarantee. Doesn’t this one look a tad healthier? 🙂
I then went back across town to the Francisco de Montejo neighbourhood. By this point, I was getting faint from hunger, but I didn’t have time to eat. So I was happy when I got a text from the property manager asking if we could delay the meeting by 30 minutes. This way, I was able to find the house, drive around a bit, and pop into a cocina economica (mom and pop inexpensive restaurant with a set menu) for a restorative meal of yummy breaded turkey breast filets and some much needed advice…
I’m really torn about where I want to live in Mérida. Right in Centro is out for a number of reasons — it’s too loud and I need quiet for work. Expats have taken over the best parts and driven prices up all over. Driving and parking is a nightmare. But it has the central market, museums, theatres, touristy stuff. So really thought that I was going to do what my legwork last year told me to do and live in one of the neighbourhoods just north of Centro to have easy access to it.
However, the more neighbourhoods I explore, the more I’m seeing that what I’m seeking, to live in a walkable neighbourhood with all the services I need for daily living, I have to go way further north, west, or east of Centro — that gives me access to both mom & pop establishments and big box stores while living in a peaceful neighbourhood. That also means I’m too far from Centro to make getting there by taxi affordable with the bus network not being great, I’d be way more reliant on my truck than I wanted. I’d also be in a much less desirable neighbourhood for guests.
I recognise that I’m reasonably young, looking to rent rather than buy (so keeping my mobility), and that I’m just starting my Mexican life. Living in a centro histórico might not be the right move right now in my life, but it could be in a few years when I’m not working so much. Plus, by that point, I’ll hopefully have found one in another city that other expats haven’t gentrified the best parts of. So I think I’m okay with not living with easy access to centro here for this first year as long as, again, I’m living in a city-within-a-city type of neighbourhood that fulfills most of my needs and going to Centro would be a treat.
So I asked the lady at the restaurant today if she had time to chat and she certainly did. I spoke about what I was looking for and how I live and what I need. She said that I’m overestimating how far Centro is outside of rush hour and that it would take me only a very short time to figure out the most strategic place to drop my truck to bus and/or taxi the rest of the way there. She agrees that it’s not a great tourist neighbourhood, but it is very close to the Museo del Mundo Mayo and Calle 60, from which it’s easy to get a bus north to Progreso or south to Centro.
Other Mexicans I’ve spoken to, including my neighbours across the street here, agree with her, saying that I’ll have a better quality of life in one of the quieter suburbs. They say that expats come here wanting the excitement of Centro, but usually move away because it’s just too loud and busy. Expat testimonials concur — I don’t know how many expats I’ve met who started in Centro and then headed into northern neighbourhoods or even out to the beach. Plus, there are major infrastructure problems in the older neighbourhoods, like crumbling structures and flooding.
So that’s how I’ve come to decide that for the right house, I’m willing to be nowhere near Centro. But the house I was looking at today was really on the edge of Francisco de Montejo, really out there. Being that far north was one thing, but that far west as well? The house was just off Calle 50, a main street in the neighbourhood and while I couldn’t go right out the door and across the street to buy beer, I only had to walk about three blocks to get there. For me, it would be very comfortable. But would folks coming to visit want to be there? Not likely.
The house wound up being quite decent. Had it been further east or south, it would have been a very strong contender as it was a lot of house for the money. I loved the huge echoey room upstairs that opened up to the covered porch that would have been an awesome secondary office. A fresh coat of white paint looked good against the grey and slate blue tile floors, but the bathrooms and kitchen were much dingier than expected. A huge bonus was that the house came with a stove (Mabe, of course), fridge, and microwave, but the kitchen was incredibly small considering the cavernous size of the other rooms. So the house didn’t scream to me, “I’ll make it worth it for you to live out here!”
And so, the search continues.