I know what it’s like being in Mérida and unable to watch the latest House Hunters International program, especially when it’s about Mérida. You kinda want to know what the rest of the world is learning about your fair city. Well, I can tell you that Arturo Novelo has a charming television persona (having first cut his teeth on YouTube). We meet Betty and Karen from San Francisco, a city that has been informed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s former travel editor, a major advocate of Yucatán travel. Betty and Karen want to find a home and start a restaurant, something that will feature the cuisine of the American South.
If Betty looks familiar, you may have seen her earlier on one of Arturo’s videos, one in which he instructs his new friend how to get utility bills in her name at Japay and CFE. I have become a big fan of Arturo’s videos, and you can see their increasing sophistication compared to his early uploads. Now, he’s starting a resource called “Real Life in Merida,” Remember the tiendita video? That was just the beginning.
Anyhow, HHI follows the three around to view three houses, hopefully not guided by the fanciful HHI map that’s gotten even more divorced from actual geography. It may even worse than the map I remember a year ago.
I am disappointed that HHI borrowed so much b-roll from previous episode — the workers hanging the garage door, the view along 68 from Casa Chablis. I would have loved to have the public see more angles on the city. They do, however, quickly show a visit to a hacienda and a swim in a cenote. They also stop a restaurant where a chef demonstrates a local dish, Lomitos de Valladolid, which is chunks of pork loin and savory tomato sauce. HHI doesn’t tell viewers which restaurant they were in, which is a shame because the chef at Manjar Blanco, on Calle 47 across from Santa Ana Park, was gracious enough to participate. I remember seeing that place under construction and I had a good feeling about it. Now that I’ve seen it on TV, I’m all the more eager to try it.
Anyway, this time around the budget is $250,000 and they want three bedrooms. Everything we see will be familiar to those of us who spend too much time browsing the real estate listings. House No. 1 is in Santiago, next to the place where Arturo grew up. It’s on Calle 76, and seems spacious and has good bones, but the clients want a larger pool. Betty, the cook, objects to the uneven surface of the tiled counter tops. House 2, a few doors down from Hotel del Peregrino on Calle 51, has a water feature in the dining room, but not enough water out back — again, the pool is too small. Its design is the most finished of the three. House 3 (I can’t find a link to it, but I remember seeing it somewhere, some time ago) is back in Santiago, and lacks the Colonial features and kitchen space they aspired to, but the pool is large enough and is distinctively designed by architect Roger Reyes, who was also behind the restoration of House 2.
And the house they choose… (SPOILER ALERT!)
…is No. 3. (Cue Calypso music.) I love the pool on the house they chose, but I am indeed surprised that they didn’t choose the first one, only because the kitchen seems salvageable. The modern design of House No. 3 shows how well concrete, the building material of choice in these parts, lends itself to modern, minimalistic design. The tiny galley kitchen is fine, they reason, because Betty will be building a professional kitchen in the restaurant they open in this space. The complaint about the small kitchen is, as in the previous Mérida-centered episode with Casa Chablis, a red herring.
Next up is HHI-Mérida No. 6, which was shot in April with two guys being led by Carol Kirby Williams of White City Properties. No word yet on when it’s airing.