Saw this post on Facebook and thought I have to share with my friends who visit this site regularly…
A couple who is recently coming to relocate in Merida and have never been here asked me for a series of recommendations about what they should know once they move here, this is my answer:
1. Do not cross any street expecting drivers to let you cross. Don’t you dare stepping out of the sidewalk until you are sure nobody is coming either way. If you ever become a pedestrian be very careful. This is the most dangerous status in Yucatan. Do not trust common sense or politeness of drivers. They are ready to kill, they were born for it!!!. Despite the sun, the rain and even if you are pregnant, carrying bags, using a cane, stroller or wheel chair, they just won’t slow down and let you cross. They love to kill specially morning joggers. If you dare to cross, face the consequences.
2. If you decide to drive a bicycle instead of waking get a good international insurance policy. (This is related to number 1)
3. Do not learn Spanish from a teacher born in Spain or any other part of Latinamerica, not even from other regions of Mexico. In Yucatan we speak mayan-Spanish, with unique pronunciation, accent and cognates, something international accepted in the Spanish speaking world can mean something completely different here. It is an art very difficult to learn, but if you work hard with the right instructor you might be able to master it in a couple of decades. The only problem is once you have learned it you can only use it here. Do not expect to be able to communicate with the rest of the Cervantes’ language users. Yucatecan is only spoken here.
4. No police is going to address a 2:00 in the morning emergency call because your neighbor is having a party. A gringo voice in the middle of the night reporting a noisy party is not an emergency for the police call center. For a yucatecan. His humble home is the only space on earth where he can make whatever he pleases. And we are a very festive, happy community. We enjoy life despite poverty, illnesses and all life horrors and difficulties, we WILL party, embrace it, enjoy it and join in!!! You will be able to make noise parties too. Your neighbors will respect your right. If you want peace and quiet. There are two millions acres of empty jungle where you can have no neighbors.
5. Take Salsa lessons. (This is related to number 4)
6.- If you really want to experience the heat in Yucatan before you move to see if you will actually be able to stand it, find the closest pizza place and tell the cook to let you step in front of the oven at its highest temperature and then open it. The embracing heat wave will be the same as if you were opening your door at anytime or even worse at any given day of May in Merida. If you can bear it for more than 60 minutes without fainting by dehydration, you are more than welcome to the Yucatan.
7. – Expect giant spiders, endless parades of giant winged aunts suddenly coming from nowhere, transparent making weird noises lizards, snakes and mosquitoes clouds all breaking in miraculously in the most insulated parts of your house. Forget privacy as families of iguanas dwelling in your fence stare all daylong at your naked swimming. If you get a towel coming out of a shower and a scorpion is hanging on the edge do not worry they are not lethal in this region. Don’t ever forget we are in the middle of the jungle, stubborn Mayan and Spanish people insisted on building a city where there should not be anything except buoyancying nature. But be ready to lose your breath with astonishing gardens, flowering trees literally born just from a rock.
8. – Expect neck pain, you have never experienced the constant need to look at the sky anywhere you lived before as in The Yucatan. During the day your eyes will make your neck move up to look at multicolor birds, from the flamingo astonishing pink framed by the blue sky and green ocean horizon to the miraculously blue on birds with shinning yellow beaks. Very soon by looking at cardinals and humming birds enjoying your garden you will realize whom you invested your garden money for. And during a clear night you will feel small as you realized the hundreds of millions stars that are pending above us and you will become aware of the real depth of the Universe that can only be seen on yucatecan skies.
9.- Be ready to fall in love again, with the peace and quiet that you will enjoy, even in the most hectic neighborhood of Merida’s downtown, you will find yourself finally with the ambiance and quality time to rediscover why you chose the person you tied your destiny with. You will be surprised of all what you have accomplished together surrounded by romantic colonial homes, stoned streets with charming cafes and awaiting trio musicians ready to sing any song you name with the most romantic yucatecan music witnessing memorable seashore sunsets that will make you think, it was all worth it.
10. – Do not worry about bringing Viagra, it is available anywhere. (Related to number 9)
11.- Do not mess with a Yucatecan. Family is a very important institution and a large one, you mess with one and you mess with everybody. Legend has it says that each yucatecan has officially (or not) about 25 brothers and sisters who will eventually marry the other 25 brothers and sisters, so we are all related. We generally live in clusters, how so many people manage to live in small home is still an internationally anthropological subject of study. We like to do everything together; we travel in herds especially on weekends and holidays. And in case of a car accident or any sort of crisis we come up from nowhere to help our relatives in an average time of 25 seconds which will beat any consular help. Remember no war has ever brought peace. PR works wonders, do not underestimate the power of a beer invitation. In case of something gets serious use a lawyer. (I can recommend one)
12.- If you have never eaten hot sauce, get away from Chile Habanero, now!!! It will literary kill you. Mexicans can because our mothers put them inside our bottles after breastfeeding. In case you mistakenly had some and suffered unbearable pain, hurry and do something fun. You still have about 8 hours to enjoy life as you know it and suffer a terrible episode once again after digestion but this time coming out from an unexpected place. This time get some ice near your toilet.
13.-There is not such a thing as punctuality in Yucatan. Nobody expects you to be punctual, so why do you? Setting a time is more like an earth reference of good will, we will eventually show on a strip between 30 minutes to an hour. So see you at 5 means 5:01, 5:02, ……up to 5:59. It is still five isn’t it? (That only applies for the general population, doctors and notaries do not engage in the above described behavior….they will take more than an hour)
14. – Do not buy your home from a Real Estate Company run by a foreigner. Yucatecans have never used them and we have managed to survive during 470 years. Well, we do use them, not to buy but to sell since they somehow achieve to do it three or four times as much as its humanly fair price. If you like a house buy it as we have always done, get the Diario de Yucatan or speak to the old lady owner of the “tendejon” in the corner. She knows everything and will happily tell you every detail and story of any potential home it might go in the market.
15.- If you have a gringo face, Yucatecans will tend to charge you more. We wrongly believed you made in your life 50 dollars per hour while we make 50 dollars per week, in case we have a job. We have this crazy stereotype of Kim Kardashian spending fortunes on drugs so a couple of more pesos for a cab ride or a simple repair won’t harm anybody. If you do not want to face this unfair but common yucatecan practice and you don’t want to be overcharged, try to look less wealthy, ware more rags and learn Spanish fast so you can tell people how little your pension is and how unfair life was with you so we start feeling some kind of sympathy.(This advice has been given to you for free)
16.- Be ready to put on weight. Yucatecan food is irresistible, cheap and it is proven to cause heavy addiction. You know that you are becoming Mexican when You also feel insulted by the cartoony version of a taco from taco bell.
17.- Be ready to lose some weight. With the excess of heat you will be sweating out your sexiness more than you used to back home therefore you will be wearing fewer clothes and also with all the extra time you will be enjoying. This will be a perfect combination to reactivate your sex life. (With or without your current partner)
18.- Be ready to become a great tourist guide. You will be visiting the Mayan ruins many times. (more than you would like) With all relatives and friends taking advantage of the free room you will become very popular and you will have to take to the same places from your dearest friends to your beloved in-laws over and over, whether you like it or not.
19.- Be ready to be impressed by Mexican wide cultural richness. Yucatan is only the beginning of a never ending discovery of other regions of the country.
20.- Try not to die here. Yucatan is the best kept secret of Mexico. Only 5% of the Mexican population has ever come to Yucatan and we want to keep it that way. If we have been able to do so in 477 years we expect the same from you. If you die here many friends and relatives will come to the services and will be tempted to stay. So enjoy Yucatan alive and die abroad!!!!
21. – Enjoy the peace and quiet of your beach home all year long. But summer is ours, be ready to meet all sorts of yucatecans while we are blocking your ocean view with the least sexy swimming suits. Then you will realize that the beach does not belong to you and if you are not careful enough not even your terrace.
22. – Do not try to understand or deal with yucatecan politicians. No one cares for them. They are the most despicable part of our society. They are a national shame, Yucatan apologizes to you. But in order to keep cosmic balance it is necessary good and evil, isn’t it? They are sadly necessary. We just do not dump them to the sea because we would make the ocean an irreversible damage.
23.-Do not fear yucatecan police, it is a mystery for everyone their criteria of turning on their top roof lights, it basically depends on the will of the cop responsible for driving. Some of them fancy their lights on some others don’t. So if you have a patrol behind you with its lights on you simply have to let them go, maybe it is lunch time and what he really wants is to get home fast. Now, if they do want to stop you. Do not worry; they fear more an English speaker driver than a man carrying a gun. As soon as you say hello in English they would feel so shy that they would just let you go. If your Spanish is limited, do not attempt to greet the officer in Spanish that way you will only provoke his hope that he could actually communicate with you that you were speeding or something else. Yucatecan police are relatively not as corrupted as other regions of Mexico. Police are usually nice people making really miserable wages. They will never be able to afford the police car they are driving. In case of a chase, you will be more likely to escape. In case they catch you let them lecture you, the crime rate is so low in Yucatan that if you break a rule they will feel actually useful. Get your ticket and thank them.
24.- Remember, You are not in at home, you cannot sue anybody here for anything. Actually you cannot sue people for almost nothing. We do not like courts. Enjoy life and its consequences. Learn to tolerate and negotiate with your neighbors. You cannot afford the time to wait for our legal system, we are on our own. If you fall somewhere accept it. It is no one’s but gravity’s fault. You live now in a country that has managed to survive all sorts of international pressures without pulling a trigger. No matter how many expats are coming and living around you, you are in Yucatan and Mexicans will keep multiplying faster than you. Leave your anger behind, forget your personal conflicts, you are just creating a brand new beginning. Living in Yucatan is that time that God has finally given you to love yourself and love the others. As far as yucatecans’ concerns you have no choice but loving all your surrounding brothers despite their flaws.
25. – And if you insist on your bitter approach to life, and you do not love Yucatan, and for whatever reason you live here, well, that is so sad. But if you ever go back home, when loosing Yucatan you will realize how much you really unconsciously loved it here. You will miss who you were here, and then you will understand that you were becoming yucatecan yourself, with every step, with every rock, with every flower, with every bird, with every bug, with every breath, with every sunset, with every color, with every flavor, with every day.