Paul and I spent Saturday with another Mérida blogger, and we didn’t have to fly to Mérida to do it. We drove 90 minutes to the Hudson Valley and met with Melissa, of Two Dogs in Merida, a single woman with a singular drive: to remake her life in Yucatán. After taking time to weigh beach or city, Melissa bought a house in Santiago. Almost immediately, with help from her brother and sister-in-law, she decorated and dragged in a patio table and chairs from the local Home Depot. The house was party-ready in a day. I bought my house at the end of 2011 and, since it’s under a contractor’s control, I still don’t even have a key to the place. Color me jealous.
Melissa and I have gotten to know each other gradually, first through the comments section of our respective blogs, and then finally at a casual get-together poolside at her hotel in Santa Lucia. We brought Chilean wine from the Minisuper Pronto around the corner and she brought a platter of shrimp from Marlin Azul. That’s when I knew we were in the company of one smart cookie. She knew the best place for shrimp in el Centro. It went down great with what turned out to be a very respectable bottle of $100-peso mini-mart red. That was evidence that we were suitable matched!
We checked out her neighborhood and then spent the rest of the day chatting and wandering around Cold Spring, N.Y., a funky little river town with shops and galleries. With its wide majestic river and steep hills, Hudson is almost the opposite of rocky, flat Yucatan. What it has in common is the humidity. Meeting someone close to home and talking about Mérida is so refreshing because around here in the northeast, hardly anyone knows what Mérida is. Everyone knows Puerto Villarta or Cancun. Most know Playa del Carmen and Tulum. But Mérida often seems like a figment of my imagination. Colonial cities in Mexico don’t grab most people like the resort towns do, I guess. After six House Hunters International episodes and countless glowing reports in the New York Times travel section, most people in our region are unaware of Mérida.
The blog has opened doors for me again and again. We’ve met a lot of people in Mérida who we would never have known otherwise. I’m sad that a lot of the other blogs don’t seem active anymore, and that really is a loss. This is the second time the Mérida bloggers’ network has connected me to someone here in the States. The first time was a couple years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Pat from Casa del Gato Azul. We had lunch in St. Louis, where I was visiting for a conference. Aside from the information and perspective gained when comparing notes with another future expat, it was reassuring to meet and chat with an obviously sane, smart person who also decided to risk our nesteggs and build something in a faraway, challenging place like Mérida. Maybe we’re not crazy after all.