Banking, Mobile phones and Fun Times in Chem Bech

It has been a long time since I updated you on what is happening in Mérida. Suffice it to say that we have been very busy and have accomplished part of the long “To Do” list.

First things first …. Jack says hello to everybody. He is adjusting well to his new home. He loves going to the pub and particularly loves when he gets lamb chop bones,

Jack at Hennessy’s Irish Pub enjoying the iced water that the staff so kindly provided


So let’s talk money! The final part of getting Maxine home to the USA was receiving the refund of the deposit we paid when we brought her into the country. Thankfully, everything was done properly at the Banjercito office in Progreso and we received the credit on our American Express card about two weeks after Maxine sailed.

Since we got to Mérida, we have been getting cash from our US bank accounts through local ATM machines. This works well in the short term but we really needed to establish a bank account here in Mexico. Getting cash out of the hole in the wall for miscellaneous purchases is fine but there is a daily withdrawal limit of 5,000 pesos. It would take us forever to withdraw enough cash to pay for a car and I am not exactly excited about walking around with a Walmart bag full of pesos!

We really did not know where to start when looking for a bank but consulted our friends here and got good advice. We finally decided to open two accounts with Intercam Banco. The first is a US dollar account and the second is a MXN peso account. To open the account, we needed our passports, our residency cards and a utility bill that proved that we lived at our address. As long as we maintain a balance of $2,000 USD, there are no bank fees. We were issued a debit card that we can also use as an ATM card. If we withdraw cash at Intercam or Scotia Bank ATMs, there are no fees. They provide a robust online service where we can check balances, pay bills, etc. I was particularly pleased with the security setup. Coming from an IT background, cyber security is a priority for me. Intercam provides two-factor authentication through an electronic fob similar to a SecurID.

We were assisted in setting up the account by a gentleman called Ruben, who is the Executive Banker at Intercam. Ruben was fantastic to work with and speaks perfect english. His contact information can been seen on his business card below. We have really enjoyed working with him. I would recommend that you contact him via email and set up an appointment. As you might guess, everybody wants to work with the REALLY good guy and, as a result, Ruben stays very busy.

Ruben’s business card


The second topic of this blog deals with something that I admit I am emotionally attached to – my cell phone! We had been using our US numbers with Verizon service since we got here. Most of the communication with our friends and family is though WhatsApp, which works well. But it was time to ditch Verizon and get Mexican cell service.

We decided to go with Telcel and visited their main office in downtown Mérida. Unfortunately, we visited on a Monday. Apparently, Mondays and Saturday are the absolute worst days to visit. We certainly can attest to that. The place was packed with people, most of whom were standing. The office provides only two benches that can seat about eight people. Everybody else has to stand. We had to stand for 2.5 hours. It was excruciating!

When we finally got to talk to somebody, things moved relatively quickly. The gentleman who helped us spoke english well. We had to provide the standard documents (passport, etc.). We bought new SIM cards for our existing phones. The plan we bought provides unlimited calling and texting in Mexico, the USA and Canada. Use in Mexico of social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Uber, WhatsApp, SnapChat, Instagram, etc. is free. For everything else, we bought just 1.5 GB of data each. This plan cost $15 USD per month for both of us. I was so happy to call Verizon and tell them to cancel my service. We are getting better service and more functionality for $15 than we did for the $155 we paid Verizon each month.

Since we have bank accounts in the USA, we needed a USA telephone number to validate against when signing into our accounts online. We accomplished this by getting a Google Voice number. Unfortunately, we cannot forward our Google Voice number to our Mexican phone because the full functionality of GV is only available in the USA. However, we can receive text messages and that is all we need for validation purposes.

We still needed to solve the problem of calling people who live outside of Mexico, Canada and the USA and who do not have WhatsApp. We chose to use Skype, which works very well and allows us to call land lines and cell phones anywhere in the world for a small fee. This is our chosen solution for calling our family in Ireland.


Our friends, Colleen and Kent, visited from the USA for two weeks. During their stay, we went to Chem Bech Cantina. The cantina is only a few blocks from our house and is a fun place to enjoy a cold beer and meet friends. One of its unique attractions is the urinal in the men’s room. As you can see from the photograph below, the tiles are rather special. To those of you who hold Mr. Trump in high regard, I would suggest averting your eyes from this photograph.

Peeing with presidents in the men’s room at Chem Bech Cantina

On this particular day, 4 July, we had much to celebrate: it was USA Independence Day and Colleen and Kent’s 20th wedding anniversary, the World Cup was still on and still exciting even though Mexico lost to Brazil, the weather was lovely and it was Wednesday. All great reasons to celebrate! We gathered with other friends from Mexico, England, the USA and Canada and had a lovely time. Below are some photos.

Standing is Susan (California). Sitting are Colleen (South Carolina), Renee (Texas), Adam (England), Kent (South Carolina), Josue (Mérida)

Jerry (Vancouver, Canada) giving his best “Jerry’s Gang” sign!

Renee having an “OMG” moment with Susan

Getting down to the serious business of tequila shooters. (Once again, I must apologize for not knowing how to present the video so it is right-side-up. If you play it, however, it works just fine.)


Look for upcoming episodes of this blog that will tell you of our experience buying a used car. I will introduce you to a terrific man who specializes in finding you just the right car. Also, I will do a review of El Palacito Secreto, a beautiful boutique hotel that provides superior accommodations and a really great breakfast.

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Farewell to the Car and Colin Gow’s Ode to Trump

Those of you who have been following this blog will know that we purchased a van specifically for the purpose of driving our dog, Jack, from South Carolina to Mérida. Yes, I know it seems a little extreme but we love our dog and have become those old people we used to laugh at. You know the ones – they treat their dog like a child. Well, we love him very much but we do have our limits. For example, we do not buy him clothes and dress him up for every holiday. That would be too much. But we did not want to put him through the trauma of airline cargo transportation and we think our decision was a correct one since a number of dogs have recently died in airplanes. It is not so long ago that United Airlines killed one by forcing the owner to put him in the overhead compartment.

Jack getting ready for bed in Mérida

We called the van Maxine and got a Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) to bring her to Mexico. Maxine served us well during the 3,000 mile journey but we needed to get her back to the USA before the TIP expired on 1 June. We pondered how to do this without spending nine days driving, which is what we did on the way down. We thought we could drive a more direct route that would take only three days. However, that route was extreme and we were looking at 13-hour driving days. That seemed like a tough option so we searched around for alternatives.

Expats in Mérida are very kind and share information freely. Mike happened to mention our dilemma to a man from Tennessee who suggested we look into returning Maxine via sea. And that is exactly what we did. We drove Maxine to Progreso, which is about 35 minutes from Mérida, put her on a ship and off she went to Panama City, Florida. If you are thinking about doing something similar, here are the details:

  1. We used Linea Peninsular as the shipping company. We dealt with their Panama City, FL office and their Progreso office. Both were helpful and responsive to my many questions. We were helped enormously by Mary, Mesha, William and both Javiers.
  2. We used Page & Jones as the freight forwarding company in Panama City. We did not use a freight forwarder in Mexico but chose to do things ourselves. Jenna at Page & Jones did a fantastic job for us.
  3. We handled all the questions, quotes, form completion, bookings, etc. through email with both companies.
  4. Before we left for Progreso, we went to Bancomer in Mérida and put money in Línea’s account. This was to cover the cost of having a licensed person lead Maxine onto the pier in Progreso.
  5. We made sure that Maxine met the requirements for traveling on board a ship: she was clean inside and out, she did not have any personal belongings, and she had no more than a quarter tank of gas.
  6. The day before sailing, we visited the Linea office in Progreso and received from them a letter stating that we had booked passage for Maxine. We also had to sign some additional forms.
  7. In order to comply with Mexico’s laws, we needed to have the TIP removed from Maxine front window. To do this, we visited Banjercito in Progreso. This is a branch of the same bank that we visited in Houston, TX to get the TIP on our way down. We presented to Banjercito the letter from Linea, our passports, residency permits, the title of the car, and the original TIP paperwork. Plus the obligatory copies. They reviewed everything and physically removed the TIP sticker from Maxine’s windscreen and gave us a receipt that showed that the car had left the country.
  8. We returned to Linea, presented them with the receipt from Bancomer and the TIP release from Banjercito.
  9. A Linea employee met us outside the office to guide us onto the pier. I travelled with him in his truck (because it was kind of cool and I got to practice my spanish) and Mike drove Maxine behind us. We passed the armed Marines at the entrance to the pier and drove the seven kilometers to the end.
  10. The Linea employee went to the Customs office and had a customs officer examine the car. Various stickers were placed on Maxine and she was driven by Linea into a container.
  11. We left and made our way back to Mérida. Later that day, I received a copy of the Bill of Lading from Linea via email.
  12. It takes two days to sail from Progreso to Panama City, FL and it can take anything from one to three days to clear USA Customs. To allow adequate time, we waited a week before Mike flew to Panama City to pick up Maxine. She had travelled well and the only problem that needed to be handled was to reconnect her battery. Apparently, it is necessary to disconnect the battery to reduce the risk of fire onboard.
  13. After picking her up at the Linea office and reconnecting the battery, Mike drove to CarMax in Jacksonville, FL, thanked Maxine for her service, kissed her goodbye (fondly) and hopped on a plane back to Mérida.
  14. The cost for this was $885 USD for the shipping, $325 USD for the freight forwarder in Panama City, $415 MNX (about $21 USD) for guiding Maxine onto the pier. Airfare, hotels, Ubers, etc. to and from Florida was about $900 USD. Total: just over $2,100 USD. Hassle factor in comparison to driving back: very low.

A Customs Officer tags Maxine while Javier from Linea looks on

We could not have done all of this craziness with the car if it were not for the many people who helped us, those who are mentioned above from Linea Peninsular and Page & Jones and three people from CarMax – Linda Kalinowski and Richard from Columbia, SC and Linda Minney from Jacksonville, FL. Linda Minney promised Mike that she would find a good, loving home for Maxine. I hope that Maxine will provide her next owner as much adventure as she provided to us.

And so Maxine has left us. We will miss the comfort and the cargo space she provided. We will not miss the fact that she was wider than every other car on our street, was a nightmare to park, and gobbled gas. Our next quest will be to find a replacement for Maxine. We are going to look for a used CRV. My last two cars before Maxine were CRVs and they were great. Stay tuned for more fun as we try to figure out how to do that legally and handle a complicated car registration process.


Colin Gow hails from England and has lived in Mérida for many years. He is a song writer, a singer and plays the guitar and ukulele. He is a popular and frequent performer at fairs, festivals and in bars around Mérida. He is also an extremely funny person who has that British wit that makes us roll with laughter. He performed one of his own compositions recently at the benefit in Hennessy’s Irish Pub that I must share with you. If you are an avid support of President Trump, I must warn you that you will not find this song to your liking but if you are a person who enjoys a good laugh, I think you will find it hilarious. And, finally, if you are somebody who is less than enthralled with Donny Two Scoops, you will delight in the words and the sentiment.

Colin sings “The President’s Demise”.

(Unfortunately, I have no idea how to make this video upright. When you click on it, it will play correctly, however.)

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

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.)