Here I am on a beautiful summer weekend, spending time in Hudson, N.Y., a historic small city (pop. 7,500) that big-city people escape to via Amtrak.
Like Mérida, it’s a popular second-home spot. Once an extremely wealthy city, it has since fallen on hard times. Scores of beautiful buildings, designed in a European tradition, are left behind. They were forgotten for decades, but in recent years they have been snapped up cheaply and restored — some more successfully than others. Part of the year the city enjoys wonderful weather and clever locals know all the tricks to cope with extreme temperature in the low season. Despite aching poverty, tripping on its crumbling sidewalks is your biggest safety risk downtown. Some restaurants and coffeehouses offer dining in small rear courtyards with fountains and lush foliage. Gay couples have been buying homes in the region for years, and they have found a tolerant, even welcoming atmosphere. Many have started businesses. People dote on their pets here: dog rescues, dog shops and dog walking is a prominent part of life here for the many happy transplants. Does this ring a bell for those of you already in Mérida?
Right now, the weather is hot but not overly humid. We are in a guesthouse with a friendly owner, but who is also sort of a messy bachelor type. The large Victorian house is in OK condition, but not that well decorated. We found dust and cookie crumbs on an end table in our room, and someone’s leftover jar of salsa in the mini fridge. But we take things in stride here in laid-back Hudson. Across the street is a much fancier guesthouse run by Musty Chiffon, a well-known drag performer who sometimes performs locally. A big lady with a deep singing voice, Musty will never have to lip synch for her life: she’s a real performer.
Many New York City art and antiques dealers have set up shop in Hudson, and some of the stores here are impressive. Hudson boasts the largest collection of antiques stores in the Empire State.
Hudson is one of those cities that first got us thinking about a second home, but we never seriously pursued ownership in the Hudson Valley. Happily, we have found a piece of Yucatán that shares many traits with our beloved upstate New York haunt, and none of the snow.