It’s too bad only I see my WordPress dashboard because often it is more interesting than my blog. I see what topics “catch on” because I can track the popularity of different posts. Posts about money or that hint at sex are most popular. Ponderous ones like the one you may or may not be about to read tend to tank.
Even more fascinating is the dashboard module that reveals what readers typed into Google before it pointed them to this blog. People are Googling “siestas,” “pasta tile floors,” and “House Hunters International fake.”
Today, someone in the early-morning hours rose from bed, wandered to their computer and asked Google for the “truth about merida mexico.” Very early in the morning, someone got down to brass tacks. This is what it all comes down to: What is the “truth” about this city? And why does it always feel like some larger reality is being concealed from us? Maybe it’s those fortress-like walls that line the streets in the historic district. Houses north of the border have open yards and big glass windows, and hold no mystery, but in these old colonial cities, you find yourself asking: What goes on over those walls? These inscrutable buildings are good at keeping secrets.
But even if you tear down those walls, or install plate-glass windows onto every facade, the “truth” about Mérida won’t be revealed. Oh, those unanswerable questions:
Is coming to Mérida the best idea or the dumbest thing we’ve ever decided to do? Have we fallen prey
to a giant cosmic prank? Maybe all the expats there are just pretending to be happy to keep up the property values. I’m kidding here, but don’t think the notion hasn’t actually flashed across my mind. This Casa Nana project is either sheer genius or pure folly. I don’t think there’s an in between.
Am I Mia Farrow and is El Centro the Dakota? Everyone’s so nice and friendly, but there’s always that feeling of mystery in the air. If you’re under 40, you’ll be forgiven for missing this reference.
What is the “authentic” Mérida? What is a “good” expat? (Certainly not someone who moans about bitters.)
Is there a viable rental market in Mérida, or are all those VRBO listings placed there by a bunch of wishful thinkers, like a fishermen casting their lines? No official numbers exist, and I haven’t found anyone willing to share even anecdotal data.
We expect that living in Mérida will be more affordable, but it’s not necessarily a place to establish new careers. But then we have to ask ourselves, what remunerative opportunities await the expat who’s not really ready to retire?
If we sell our house in 10 years, will we as much as break even on the deal? Does it matter if we’ve enjoyed our time there? Will we have the luxury of being so philosophical about losing money?
Will my octogenarian parents, who think of paprika as a wildly exotic seasoning, become anxious and declare that they want to go back home after a day or two?
Will I blow up like a panucho or get slim and fit after living in Mérida for a few years? I guess that’s up to me.
Why did we decide to move here in the first place? Oh, wait, that I can answer. We can’t find any place in the U.S. where we’d rather be as we head past mid-career, with both our jobs in peril. Lots of people move to Florida, but Tallahassee politics make a move there less and less palatable. And although we’re paying much more for Casa Nana than we ever dreamed, that same budget would still buy only a mediocre property in the U.S. cities we’d have chosen. And even in the U.S., there are no guarantees of happiness and success.
And besides, what’s the “truth” about New York? Des Moines? Albuquerque? What do I really know about the people there, and what goes on behind their walls? What does that question even mean?
About the above photo: I took that last year. Last I checked, that wall is still in a beautiful state of decay, at 47 and 64. Given its prime location, expect it to be “improved” someday soon.