The Mérida offshoot of Oaxaca’s Amate Books is in a large yellow building on Calle 60 x 51. Walking between Santa Lucia and Santa Ana, I have passed it many times, wondering if they were ever open. Apparently they were open the whole time, they just look closed. So a couple of weeks ago, we walked in, and we immediately recognized the friendly face behind the counter.
It was Jorge Fichtl, whose hospitality (and honesty) we remembered at the former Café Libertad. (My blog must be the death knell for coffeehouses, because El Hoyo is gone as well.) I say honesty because back at Liberdad last May, I was bleary after a long day, and the whole currency situation still taxes my little brain, so I mistakenly left about $100 U.S. for coffee and quiche. I could have stumbled away never the wiser, but Jorge brought back the money, and we then had a nice, long conversation about the coffee house and the city. Even then, he emphasized the space’s potential for conversation and debate, and not just the consumption of caffeine and carbs.
I’m glad to report he’s still on Calle 60 and managing Amate now. He says he’s working on buying the place, and is introducing elements of a social or community space with art, live music and conversation. The bookstore was attractive and spacious, and had a fantastic selection, filled with Yucacentric selections at good prices. Behind that is a large room that opens up to the patio, a space suitable for any kind of function. I’m really pulling for this new Amate to pan out. (Update: Be sure to read comments from some helpful readers.)