Staying Put: the Neighbourhood

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My neighbourhood is another reason I wanted to stay put in this house. I live in what expats call a “Mexican neighbourhood.” I call it “economically diverse.” It’s a neighbourhood with a lot of homes that could be called shacks, but sitting next to beautiful upscale homes. There’s often trash on the poorly maintained streets and there aren’t really any high end establishments like cafés, sit-down restaurants, and cantinas. Mérida has much neater and newer neighbourhoods and developments that look like any suburb in Canada and the U.S., with wide streets, walkable sidewalks, underground utilities, all perfectly groomed and maintained, and with beautiful restaurants, bars, and cafés. But that’s the world I’ve always eschewed and not the Mexico I fell in love with. Those are all things I enjoy in moderation. They are a place to go to for a treat. But they lack what are for me the necessities of daily living — cheap taquerías and cocina economicas, a vibrant neighbourhood market, little mom and pop-type shops where you can get really good service, and, most important, a sense of community and security because people walk the streets and know their neighbours.

Across Calle 60, the main north-south boulevard, is an older but still more upscale neighbourhood called Campestre. I’d say that neighbourhood is the same age as mine, but it’s a world apart. While the streets of Chuburná de Hidalgo are usually bustling with people, Campestre’s are eerily silent. While Campestre’s homes and streets are more diversified and older than those in the new tract developments, they are much neater than those of Chuburná de Hidalgo. Campestre doesn’t as far as I far as I’ve seen in my explorations, have a single tortillería, cocina economica, or cheap taquería. It does boast some really good restaurants, bakeries, cafés, and all manner of more upscale stores. Its “downtown” is as equidistance from my house as Chuburná’s “downtown” is to me, with its cheap little restaurants, beautiful newly renovated market, and are completely redone supermarket. I live between two worlds and can go to either as easily.

Campestre is like an island between the two main north-south boulevards.

I looked at a house in Campestre on the day that I found this house. I’ve thought a lot about that house as it was the only real other contender. It was a much, much smaller home, but not significantly less expensive, overall. Every time I find myself in Campestre, I try to imagine what my life would have been like there. I’ve been looking for the house, as I didn’t save the address, just to see where it is exactly in relation to all the things I go to between Chuburná’s centro and the businesses I frequent along Prolongación Paseo de Montejo. Well, I found it. And boy is that a funny story.

A street in the more upscale neighbourhood of Campestre.

Looking north on my street, you can see several not-so-nice homes and the crumbling apartment block at the corner. This street is definitely cleaner than the next one over, which has a huge trash heap at each end.

I made a new friend through my bowling club and he happens to live right near me and have a dog. He came by a few days ago and his dog got along fine with Bonita, so my friend suggested I go visit them with her. We know from my last post how that turned out! Well, when I had visited that little house in Campestre, I was immediately put off that that there was an expat living right next door. Can you see where this is going? 😆 Yup, the little house I’d looked at is immediately adjacent to my new friend’s home and he’s the person who helped me put it on my don’t rent list! Too funny. The world is full of strange coincidences. At any rate, now, I have my answer and the closure I wanted. I would have been so poorly situated to the things I need to be happy in my everyday life here in Mexico and I likely would have never discovered my favourite Chuburná businesses. I would also very likely have had a much higher cost of living.

Chuburná is definitely a growing neighbourhood and I’m seeing new businesses pop up all the time. I think, just based on the renovation of the Super Akí up the street that it’s slowly being gentrified. Expats are starting to discover it. But it feels like home in a way that no other part of Mérida feels like that. We’re the north of centro neighbourhood with the best bus service and our literally labyrinthian streets might not be much fun to drive but they are a wonder to walk as there is a surprise around every corner. I’m really settled in — I’m recognised as being a local and I have so many favourite restaurants I’d miss if I moved (my favourite pizzeria alone was a major factor in wanting to stay put 😆). I really love it here!

3 thoughts on “Staying Put: the Neighbourhood

  1. Pingback: Staying Put: a Series on Why I’m Renewing My Lease |

  2. You reminded of of the time taking the ferry to Isla when a guy complained he was charged more than you and the operator replied that you were an Isla girl. It’s good to belong.

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