Healing, Health and Healthcare

What do you do when a young, talented musician needs heart surgery that is prohibitively expensive? Well, if you are Seán Hennessy, you organize a benefit to raise money, invite bands to volunteer their time, ask for support and start that support by donating all the costs plus 10,000 pesos. The benefit was spectacularly successful. Several exceptionally talented musicians performed to a packed house. People came from all over the state to attend and to contribute to this very worthy cause. A raffle run by Sergio Valle, a manager at Hennessy’s, brought in over 7,000 pesos and made the four prize winners very happy. The total raised was 125,000 pesos, which will be a big help in paying for the surgery. It was inspiring to be part of this benefit. It made me think that so many of us are willing to participate in doing something that is good for others when we are asked. But it takes one of us to stand up and lead, one to say: “I will make this happen.” Mérida is fortunate to have a caring soul in Seán.

The most joyous part of the evening

Rubén Arias and Seán Hennessy. Rubén hails from Villahermosa in the state of Tabasco and is a fabulous guitar player and lead singer

The musicians get together at the end of the evening with Seán Hennessy. Missing from the photo is Colin Gow, a songwriter, singer and guitarist who earlier performed three of his own compositions and delighted the audience.


A friend recently asked me how she could get her birth control shot in Mérida. I looked at her like she had a carrot growing out of her forehead and said: “Do you not realize that I am 60 years old? There are few benefits that menopause brings but, THANK GOD, not having to worry about birth control is one!” But the question needed an answer and I thought it may be important information for some readers of this blog. My friend was charged with the mission of figuring out how to do this. First, you must find a pharmacy that sells the birth control medicine and buy it. The shot must be administered by a doctor, so the next order of business is to find a licensed medical facility to inject you. Once an appointment has been made, show up, get a prescription from the onsite doctor in the hospital or clinic you chose, hand over the medicine to the doctor who promptly stabs you in the arm with it, pay your bill and go on your merry way! Mission accomplished and birth control is in place for three months. My friend used the medicine Depo Provera, went to the Mérida Clinic and paid 55 pesos for the procedure.


We arrived in Mérida with a 90-day supply of our medications. That meant that we had a little less than three months to find the medicines that we needed. Thankfully, many drugs that require a prescription in the USA are available over the counter in Mexico.

I compiled a list of the drugs we needed (brand and generic names) and their dosage and we set off the visit pharmacies. The first one we visited had only two of the drugs we needed and suggested that we visit a second for the rest. We traipsed all over the city in 98 degree F (about 37 degrees C) to the recommended pharmacy. They were able to provide only one more and suggested we go somewhere else. We quickly figured out that this quest for medication had potential to be exhausting. We had to find a better way.

Thankfully, that better way came when I discovered Botica de Barrio and, oh how I wish I had discovered it sooner. I happened upon it on Facebook where it was stated that all you needed to do was email them. I was skeptical when I sent the email in english listing the medications we needed. I received a response within a few hours indicating that they would research my question and would get back to me. In another few hours, they had emailed me to tell me that they had one of the drugs and would order the other for me. Wow! This was amazing service! I was picking up both drugs within 48 hours of discovering Botica de Barrio. Since then, I have continued to be amazed with their service and was determined to find out more about the company.

The store was opened by Andy Ristau, a Canadian transplant to Mérida from Winnipeg, Manitoba and his friend, a local doctor. Andy witnessed the struggle of expats to find their medications and recognized the need for a bilingual pharmacy. He decided he would do something about it and Botica del Barrio was born. Andy has a wonderful manger in the store named Pepe. Pepe does what only the best staff do – he runs it like he owns it! He emulates Andy’s desire to provide the best service to the clients and to make sure that they have the medication they need. If somebody needs something urgently that they do not keep in stock, they will send a courier to get it. They even deliver to the home. While Botica del Barrio has some local customers, its primary clientele are expats who enjoy the convenience of getting medications that are, in some cases, life-sustaining. You can contact the staff on Facebook, by email at info@boticadelbarrio.com or by phone at 52-999-923-4855. Check out their website at http://www.boticadelbarrio.com.

Botica del Barrio on Paseo de Montejo

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Residency finally comes and we celebrate its arrival

We are legal! I am happy to report that we finally have our Mexico residency cards. We waited for six weeks to be fingerprinted but were able to pick up our cards just one week later. Here is a recap of the visa and residency process we followed:

  1. We made a reservation to visit a consulate in the USA (Raleigh, NC).
  2. We downloaded visa application forms from the Consulate website, completed them, and gathered several investment documents, our passports, two colored photos, and $72 USD ($36 each) in cash. We made a copy of everything, except the cash, of course! (I think the Federal Government frown on such behavior. I have been watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and I have resolved to avoid prison at all costs.)
  3. We met with a consulate officer who reviewed our paperwork, interviewed us and determined that we met the requirements to be residents of Mexico.
  4. On the same day, we were issued visas that were good for only one visit to Mexico and were valid for six months from the date of issue.
  5. We entered Mexico by car at Laredo, TX and were very careful to ensure that the word “CANJE” was checked on our FMM form.
  6. We prepared to visit the local Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) in Mérida to apply for our residency cards. This had to be done within 30 days of entering the country. We completed an online form, printed it, signed it and made copies. We brought our passports, three photographs each, and the FMM that we were issued at the border,
  7. We visited the INM office. Because we did not know what we were doing and were in learning mode, we had to visit several times before our documents were accepted.
  8. One of the things we should have done before visiting the INM office was to pay for the residency processing fee at a local bank. The fee was approximately 5,000 MNX for Mike’s permanent residency and about 4,000 MXN for my temporary residency. The bank gave us the receipts that we needed for the INM.
  9. We followed the progress of our application on the internet.
  10. After our documents were accepted, we scheduled our fingerprinting session.
  11. We were fingerprinted at the INM and had to provide three tiny photos. The exact dimensions are on the INM website. We found a photography store near the INM office and for 400 MXN, they provided us with exactly what was needed. Clearly, they had done this many times.
  12. We received our residency cards and celebrated!

Yes, for us, this was a 12-step process and it certainly felt like it! Lacking a thorough knowledge of the language definitely contributed to our inefficiency. But going through this was worth it from a learning viewpoint.

This is a stock photo of what the residency card look like (Source: Google). I really did not want to show you my card. The photo was taken on a bad hair day and is horrendous!

 

Our new status as legal residents necessitated a celebration. Not that we ever need an excuse to celebrate but this was extra special.Our friends, Seán and Colm, are like family and celebrating with them was a must. They introduced us to an incredibly beautiful hacienda about an hour outside Mérida. This is one of those magnificent haciendas that had its heyday during the henequen boom in the early 1900s. It has been painstakingly restored to its original splendor and then some. The grounds are filled with colorful blooms that catch your eye everywhere you look. The hacienda has its own church just a stone’s throw from the main house. The swimming pool was filled just for us from an underground cenote and was emptied after we left. (A cenote is a deep natural fresh water pool found in Mexico and other parts of Central America.)

 

The main building against a perfect sky

 

The reception hall in the main house

 

Seán and Colm beating the heat of a May afternoon

 

The staff left shortly after we arrived, the great front gate closed and it was just the four of us and two dogs – Toby, the regal Lhasa Apso and Jack, our sweet pit bull. Seán is an excellent chef and cooked lunch and dinner which we ate on the terrace. Thankfully, nobody looked at me to cook – they all knew to avoid such a horrific experience. Regrettably, I have not been blessed with domestic genes.

For dessert, we cut the mangos that fell from the trees feet from us. They were ripe, sweet, delicious and had been generously gifted to us by Mother Nature.

Toby feeling refreshed after his swim

 

Jack contemplating a dip in the cool, clear water

 

The private chapel on the grounds

 

Looking out from the chapel

 

The terrace at the back of the main house that overlooks a lush landscape

 

One of three bedrooms

 

With no light pollution in this remote place, the stars were bright, each proudly proclaiming its own space in the sky. As darkness washed over us, I felt at peace. I was incredibly thankful for far off family and friends, for the beauty of the surroundings, for the life that we have chosen and, most especially, for the people with whom I shared this evening.

Telchac, BeerFest and Colm’s Ladies

Before we made our decision to move to Mérida, we scoured Facebook expat groups to find information on the Yucatan peninsula. A member of one of these groups, Lynette Landry, offered to call me and answer my questions on Mérida, the Yucatan and Mexico in general. One Sunday afternoon, she and her husband, David, did just that. We chatted for almost an hour about all kind of things – how to buy a car, open a bank account, get a mobile phone, etc. They were so generous with their time and I was eternally grateful. This week, we went to visit Lynette and David in their home in Telchac Puerto. They live in a lovely house about four miles from the ocean and are very much enjoying their retirement. We met many of their friends who live at the beach, some of whom are snow birds and are getting ready to fly north again.

Lynette’s kindness in answering my questions is what prompted me to start this blog. I promised myself that I would share whatever I learned with others who may be seeking information.

A beautiful, native flower decorates a table on the Landry’s patio

Thankfully, my liver was intact enough to allow me to visit BeerFest Mérida. It was held in Hacienda Chenkú, a property that saw its heyday when henequen was in great demand in the nineteenth century. “Chenkú” is a Mayan word meaning “Well of God” and the place was first mentioned in 1710. The house is Colonial in style and has a backyard that was perfect for the BeerFest. There were hundreds of different beers available, some of which, I must admit, I sampled. The festival had live music and people were  enjoying themselves listening to the performers and drinking a nice cold beer. When the band took a break, children jumped on stage to demonstrate their dancing prowess.

Entrance to Hacienda Chenkú

The lily pond

Skeleton on a skeleton – an interesting merchandising choice

One of the beers I sampled

The Hacienda at night

Children dance while the band rests

Our friend, Colm, decided that he would host a ladies’ afternoon on Monday. It was a resounding success! Eight women attended and we had a marvelous time. Colm was the perfect host constantly filling our glasses with champagne or wine – or both! We sat in the terrace of his beautifully restored, Colonial house and laughed until our jaws hurt.

Colm hails from Dublin, Ireland and has been blessed with the wit of his native city. To say he is hilarious is an understatement. I am very much looking forward to his next soirée.

Erin (Canada), Doris (Switzerland), Nicolle (USA), Nancy (USA), Adele (USA) and Colm (Ireland)

Me (Ireland/USA), Martine (Belgium/Ireland), Anita (Ireland) and Erin (Canada)

Blooms, Beaches and Angels

Little did I know when I shared the photos from the Festival of Flowers with you last week, that the real beauty was yet to come. And it has arrived in abundance! The flowers are in full bloom and the exhibition is an explosion of color. Were it not for our friend, Josue, telling me about the flowers blooming, I would have completely missed this stage.

Pretty before but fabulous after blooming!

Using different green plants to create an interesting pattern.

The humming bird in all his glory surrounded by red, yellow, and orange flowers.

This week, we got an opportunity to visit Tulum for two days with friends. It is a small but growing beach town about 2.5 hours from Mérida and 90 minutes south of Cancun. It is teeming with people my mother would have called hippies; people donning long flowing clothes, sandals, no make-up, very friendly, wearing beads, selling art and crafts for a living or running hot yoga studios. There are a plethora of items for sale for those who wish to shop for souvenirs and crafts. Not for me, however. We just shed ourselves of all of our unnecessary stuff before coming to Mexico and I have no intention of accumulating more.

The town of Tulum offers many nice restaurants but the most attractive feature of the area is, of course, the beach. The four of us settled in at Mezzanine, a small luxury hotel right on the beach. It is hot in Mérida right now so we welcomed the perfect temperature and cool sea breezes in Tulum.

The Mezzanine Boutique Hotel

The sea has always been special for me and touches every sense. Laying on a beach bed, looking at the crystal clear water, listening to the waves tirelessly wash over the rocks and quickly lose their fury in the sand, feeling the breeze on my face and tasting the salt that it brings is the nearest thing to heaven that I can imagine. It made me feel good to be alive, to have this day, to have these friends, to have this life.

Taking in the beauty that surrounded me. The image of this clip is turned sideways but the video actually plays properly. Regretfully, I am not smart enough to figure out how to rotate the clip image. 😕

The hotel offers exceptional Thai food and my massaman curry was delicious. Breakfast the next day was also lovely. I had the Eggs Benedict but was tempted to order On The Bend just to see what it was like!

On The Bend – I mean, really, who could rest tequila, cigarettes and coffee for breakfast!

Nothing like a mimosa to start my day!

You are probably wondering where Jack was while we were in Tulum. Well, I am happy to report that he was being cared for and spoiled by our dear friend, Josue. Josue was kind enough to stay with Jack and shower him with love and affection while we were gone.

Jack being totally spoiled by Josue and clearly loving it!

Before deciding that Mérida would be our home, we visited several places on the Yucatan peninsula, including Tulum. We knew that, as lovely as Tulum is, it would not feed our souls every day like Mérida can. But it is a perfect place to visit and, because it is so close to us, we will definitely visit often.

Speaking of feeding our souls, we bumped into Ruth Bennett at Hennessy’s one night and learned of her upcoming concert. Ruth is a renowned harpist who plays with the Yucatan Symphony here in Mérida. She has performed all over the world, giving her debut recital at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and touring with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. She gave a solo performance at Centro Cultural La Cúpula, an incredibly beautiful, colonial building that provides a showcase for artists and performers. We went with a friend from Canada, Erin McCarthy, who (obviously) has Irish roots and is quickly developing roots in her adopted city.

Erin taking in the sights and sounds at La Cúpula.

Ruth’s performance was perfect. It was as if she and the harp were one. The sound was rich and full and soared to the apex of the high colonial ceiling. She played works from several different composers. Her performance of Paul Patterson’s Mosquito Massacre allowed the audience to feel those pesky creatures fly and buzz and bite and die. But it was her rendition of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune that truly moved me. I closed my eyes and felt as if I was transported by an angel through the heavens. Ruth certainly plays like an angel and I look forward to the next time I get to hear her.

Ruth’s harp sits on the traditional pasta-tiled floor of La Cúpula

Ruth bringing forth the music of angels from her instrument

BeerFest Mérida is on this weekend. If my liver can handle it, I will visit and tell you all about it next week. Until then, stay safe, be thankful for your friends and family and live each day like it is the only one you have.

Yuckiness, The boys visit, and Oodles of flowers

Feeling miserable and laying in bed – that is what I have done for the past five days. Apparently, I was next in line to get some nasty sinus yuckiness (medical term!) that made my head feel like it was going to explode. It knocked me off my feet and confined me to my bed. I am a firm believer in that which does not kill you will make you stronger and wanted to allow my body to heal itself instead of taking antibiotics. And goodness gracious me, my body sure is taking its sweet loving time to fix itself! I guess that is what happens when you are sixty.

Last week, I promised to post photos of our friends’ dogs as soon as I got permission from their owners. Toby (the Lhasa Apso) is cute and little. Duke (the part-Dobermann) is huge! I honestly think he is just a little smaller than a Shetland pony! Duke was skin and bone when our friends rescued him. He is very lucky to have found his forever family.

His royal highness, the prince-like Toby

Duke, large enough to wear a saddle, sweet enough to cuddle (I know because he has climbed into bed with me!)

The great joy of the week was welcoming our son, David and his friend, James to Mérida. This was their first time in the city and we were thrilled to see them. They are both tall (6′ 3″ and 6′ 4″) and got some strange looks when they walked into the local cantina with Mike (6′ 5″). Mérida does not have a large population of tall men so having three of them go into a little place is definitely noteworthy for the locals. The boys (they will always be boys to me even though they are in their early thirties) seem to be enjoying Mérida and love our friends here. Methinks they will be back! And I am praying that I will be in better health when they return.

David and James

James waiting for the love of his life

The boys enjoying a drink with the Don Julio salesperson at Pancho’s Garden Restaurant where we ate a lovely dinner under the stars

David, Josue and James leaving Hennessy’s and walking down Paseo de Montejo to a nightclub. I have no idea when they came home but I am sure it was very late. As a Mom, I normally worry about them when they are out late but not in Mérida.

Unfortunately for me, Easter Sunday was spent in bed but we did manage to go to the main square the night before and take some pictures. The cathedral was abuzz with people visiting, praying and some in quiet reflection. It was built in 1598 on the site of Mayan ruins and is a formidable stone structure. I find it uplifting to kneel, close my eyes, feel the history and the holiness gently cocoon me, and allow me to quietly spend a little time with that which I hold to be true.

Mérida Cathedral on Holy Saturday night

The Festival of Flowers or Camino de Flores is here from 25 March to 15 April and it is quite spectacular. I had no idea what to expect when we visited and was amazed to see that an entire city street had been blocked off and flowers were everywhere. More than 200 people worked to lay out half a million flowers on 1,200 square meters in a design created by Yucatecan artists. The festival pays tribute to the fauna of the area by highlighting eight animals – hummingbird, anteater, armadillo, rattlesnake, opossum, fox, tapir, and white-tailed deer. The City built a viewing platform that allows visitors to overlook the flowers and to fully appreciate the creativity and beauty of the exhibition. I hope you enjoy the photographs of the flowers but, honestly, they do not do it justice. They do not fully encapsulate the colors, the scents, the people, and the way it makes you feel.

Camino de Flores from street level. The viewing platform is on the right and some great restaurants on the left. The viewing platform is built on one side of a park, Parque de la Mejorada. Mérida has parks all over the city that are frequented and enjoyed by young and old, rich and poor, local and visitor and the occasional Irishwoman wearing her favorite Yucatan hat and boho outfit!

The hummingbird was my favorite!

It is a living exhibition so workers are constantly swapping out fresh flowers for those that may be wilted or not looking their best

Each exhibit has a card that explains the animal in spanish and english

A key industry in the State of Yucatan is tourism. The State takes serious the happiness and wellbeing of visitors to the area. One of the benefits that Mérida offers is its tourist police. They exist specifically for the safety and support of visitors and are helpful and friendly. You see them all over Centro Historico. Some of them drive electric vehicles with really cool scissor doors (like a Lamborghini). While at the flower festival, we saw a little boy who walked up to an officer and inquired about the car. The officer engaged the boy in conversation and then helped him into the car. It was such a lovely encounter to witness – the kindness of the officer, the wonder and excitement of the little boy, the smile of the Mom.

The happy little boy in the police car. (For those of you who may wonder, yes, I did get permission from the Mom before taking his photo.)

Jack goes to the pub, Medical stuff, and Good Food

Since we got to Mérida, Jack has been spending all of his time with Mike and me. This week, we decided that he should meet new dogs and new people. Hennessy’s is a pet friendly pub so it made sense that we take him there. (I know you cannot be surprised by the fact that we took our dog to an Irish pub for his first serious doggie outing!) The staff are great with animals and brought him a bowl of iced water. Several other patrons came with their dogs and it was a great experience for Jack and for us.

Jack enjoying the sites and sounds of Paseo de Montejo as he looks out from the front patio at Hennessy’s Irish Pub

Jack also got to meet our friends’ rescued dogs, a Lhasa Apso prince and a part-Dobermann gentle giant. All three seemed happy to meet: they wagged their tails and smelled each others’ butts. I cannot even imagine what they learn from this behavior but, whatever it is, it is important enough to be done with determination and persistence. Gracious me! I remain thankful that humans did not adopt this behavior. I would be mortified!

This week, we checked off another item from our To Do list; we finalized our health insurance. Our bill for the year was equal to what we would have paid for one month in the US. This includes a lower deductible, lower co-payment and lower out-of-pocket maximum. Once again, I cannot say enough good things about Julieta Morales Vera and her staff. One of the reasons that health insurance is lower in Mexico than in the US is that this is a less litigious society. Another is the lower cost of drugs.`

While visiting Mérida last week, our friend Colleen became ill. She was coughing and wheezing and feeling miserable. She called a doctor who came to the house within 30 minutes, examined her and prescribed the medication she needed to get fit and well quickly. It was a great experience for her and cost about the same as a copay for an office visit in the US. We noticed that the quantity of medication that the doctor prescribed was less than what we would have received in the US. Colleen received only the quantity she needed, no more, no less. We said a sad goodbye to Colleen and Kent on Friday as they returned to their home in Columbia, SC.

One of the delights this week was going to the market. Josue, our friend whom you met in an earlier blog post, took us to a huge, sprawling market that was filled with everything you could possibly want. It was a delight for the senses: a cacophony of humans bargaining and animals squawking, smells that changed wildly as we meandered through the market, the touch of rough, sour oranges and soft, silky mangoes, and the taste of a local sweet avocado with which a vendor tempted us. We purchased some fruit, vegetables and a strainer. One of the fruits was a guanábana. When we took out the meat of the guanábana, kneaded it like dough and removed the seeds, it made a refreshing drink that looks like milk but is sweeter. We discovered that it goes well with tequila. Actually, I think it would go well with anything and is just as delicious by itself.

A guanábana – ugly on the outside but yummy on the inside!

I ventured to our local Chem Bech market by myself a few days later. It is a short walk from our house and the journey gives us an opportunity to meet our neighbors and wish them “Buenos Dias”. The Chem Bech market is smaller than the market we went to earlier in the week but the food is just as great. As I walked through the rows of apples, pears, papaya, bananas, tomatoes, cabbages, and potatoes, I thought of the many “food deserts” that exists in large cities like Los Angeles. These are urban areas where fresh food is not available to the mostly poor inhabitants. They have to buy what is available to them in their local stores – chips, soda, candy, processed meats, etc. Looking at the market in Chem Bech, I saw that good quality, fresh fruit and vegetables are available to all at a reasonable price.

Fruit and vegetables that I bought at the Chem Bech market and two baguettes that I picked up on the way back at the panadería (bakery). Total cost for all of this was a little over $3 USD.

We celebrated Mike’s birthday this week: pre-lunch drinks with Josue at home, lunch at the Chem Bech Cantina and dinner at Hennessy’s. A good time was had by all – so good that I had to take a nap after lunch! Apparently I had forgotten the advice that Daniel had given Mike and me: “the secret to afternoon drinking is to NOT stop”! 😆

Celebrating Mike’s birthday with Josue at the Chem Bech Cantina. The men are enjoying a Guatemalan rum called Zacapa while I am sticking with a Pacifico.

The Irish and British flags at the Chem Bech Cantina. It has other flags flying that are not captured in this photo including the Canadian one. The photo was taken by a sweet, somewhat inebriated gentleman who insisted that I be part of the captured image!

The Festival of Flowers is on in Mérida at the moment. I hope to be able to blog about it next week. Until then, happy Easter!

Friends visit, Taxes, Insurance and Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

First things first, Jack says hello to everybody! He is getting more comfortable with his surroundings and is happier than he has been for some time. He still loves to ride in the car.

Jack looking particularly handsome!

It was another eventful week in Mérida, filled with new experiences and learning about how things work in our adopted home city. Our first delight of the week was picking up our friends, Colleen and Kent, at the airport. We had hugged them goodbye on 21 February and set forth on our 3,000 mile journey. It was so lovely to see them here in Mérida. We stayed with them the night before we left South Carolina and realized that Maxine was overloaded when the hitch dragged along the ground as we drove into their driveway. At that point, we thought it best to offload two large suitcases that Colleen and Kent graciously agreed to bring to Mérida for us. That was a really good idea but, obviously, not a lot of planning and thought went into it. It was the last minute after all and we just needed to reduce the weight in the car. When we arrived in Mérida, I realized that most of my clothes were in one of those cases. As a result, I spent eleven days with one pair of jeans, six pairs of yoga pants, two tops, and enough teeshirts and unmentionables to require doing laundry every four days! Sometimes I have to question my sanity – for example, why would I have six pairs of yoga pants and why on earth did I bring them with me!

Maxine packed to the gills before leaving South Carolina.

This week, we completed two very important items on our list: pay property taxes and finalize health insurance. We assumed (silly!) that the tax office would be in the same place that it had been the last time we were here. That was not the case. The office had moved to a more central location. We finally managed to find it but only after a very kind City of Mérida employee led us out of the wrong building that we had gone to, walked us across the street and into the treasurer’s office. The people are so helpful and kind in the office that paying taxes was actually a pleasure. For those of you who may be interested, the tax bill for the year was $104 USD.

About 18 months ago, we were fortunate to be introduced to a wonderful lady who owns her own insurance company. Her name is Julieta Morales Vera and she is simply amazing! Not only does she sell insurance, she and her staff also represent the interest of their clients in all matters. For example, it is not unusual for Julieta to contact a hospital or doctor and negotiate on behalf of her client. She makes herself available 24 by 7 and the service she provides is unequalled in my experience. The fact that she speaks Spanish and English flawlessly is a huge advantage. If you live in Mérida, I would strong recommend that you have Julieta as your insurance advocate.

Without a doubt, Hennessy’s Irish Pub is the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day. The pub is located in an impeccably restored Colonial mansion on the fashionable Paseo de Montejo. This was our second time celebrating Ireland’s patron saint at Hennessy’s. The owner, Sean Hennessy, who hails from Co. Kilkenny is passionate about delivering a genuine Irish experience on all days but especially on St. Patrick’s Day. He extends a warm Irish welcome, a Cead Mile Fáilte, to his guests who are a delightful mixture of cultures and demographics. There are local people, visitors from elsewhere in Mexico, and expats from all over the world. I continue to be amazed at the variety of countries that are represented in Mérida: on St. Patrick’s Day, I talked to people from Mexico, the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria and, of course, Ireland.

The courtyard at Hennessy’s Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day festooned in the green, white and orange of Ireland’s flag

Sean chose only the best Irish foods when he developed his menu. He selects the freshest ingredients for his meals and it shows. The Guinness Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, and Chicken Curry are my absolute favorites. The combination of great food, drink and music makes St. Patrick’s Day at Hennessy’s a magical experience. Sean caters to those who want to hear traditional Irish music and song and to those who want to hear more contemporary Irish and Mexican music. This year, I had the honor of delivering a few old Irish ballads that were handed down to me through the generations of my family. While it was daunting to sing in front of a packed house, it was a pleasure to be able to share a little bit of Ireland with this diverse group. The local bands were simply amazing.

The Twangs, a local Mérida band

It was an honor and a pleasure for me to sing with Reuben, a talented singer and guitarist from Villahermosa and Tom, an experienced violinist from upstate New York

Each year, Sean designs and sells teeshirts to support a charity. He absorbs the cost of the design and manufacture and donates 100% of the proceeds to the charity. This year, the money is going to educate local children. The designs are always fun and sometimes a little cheeky! You have to appreciate that Irish humor!

One of this year’s teeshirts designs

I have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in many places around the world but there is nothing that compares to the experience of doing so at Hennessy’s. If you get an opportunity to join us next year here in beautiful Mérida, I am sure that Hennessy’s will roll out the welcome mat for you. Feliz Dia de San Patricio!