We intended to connect with other bloggers on our last trip, and that’s what happened even before we knew it was happening. Our house manager sent a driver to meet us at the airport on arrival, and although it took a few minutes for us, Paul finally recognized him. It was Roger from the 2011 Blogger’s Conference! Not a blogger, but a blogger-spouse, the husband of Rainie of Totally Win at Love fame. He had given us a ride from the reception last year. Now here he was again, getting ready to hand us keys to the rental house. What a great, serendipitous way to start the week.
That was just the beginning. We actually saw Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado, who’s friendship and support has been unwavering, many times. (I’m reserving another post for more details on our week with our good friend. Ever the maestra, she introduced us to lots of new sights, sounds and tastes!) One morning Joanna took me to meet the members of the Yucatan Writers’ Group. Who should be on the opposite end of the sofa? Theresa! It’s always great to talk to her, but our conversations are always cut short. We had to leave for one of those new sights, sounds and tastes.
Another day, we met Yucatango for coffee. She mentioned something she later told the rest of the world: She’s offering a free e-book to download. It’s filled with some new expat stories and guidance, and some writing previously shared on her blog. I told her she could have self-published it for a little money on Kindle, but that didn’t interest her. (If Imagine Mérida ever becomes a book, how much will I be abe to charge? Not counting film rights, of course.) She led us to a modern, new coffeehouse, Punta del Cielo. Coffee and service there was OK, but prices were good and it was nice to know of an air-conditioned and comfortable place to hide out, and get wifi, when the Zocalo gets too hot or crowded. Its storefront is so small, you’d easily overlook it. When you drink coffee, and you’re discovering a new city, it’s great to have another coffee-lover on your side.
Halfway through our trip we met Darren and Wade for a beer at their rental house. They’re smarter than we’ve been about this whole venture, renting houses all along. They’ve avoided the costs of hotels and learned the ropes, while gauging their own temperaments when it comes to Centro architecture, floor plans and neighborhoods. This Atlanta couple is just like they appear on their website: friendly and engaging. They bought a mostly empty lot in the Centro Historico and will be building something totally new, which I think is part of an overall trend I’m seeing all over the city. (The other trend being building north of el Centro.) The golden era — of snapping up a lovely ruin dirt cheap and restoring it — has ended. The best properties are already snapped up, and if they come available, the ridiculously low prices are over and done. Most of our project will be new construction, too. The house was chosen mainly for neighborhood. Our architects continually tell us what an advantage new construction is to our budget and the home’s functionality.
At one point, we were taking a morning stroll in search of coffee, and I mentioned that it would be nice to see Nancy and Barry again. A moment later, who should come jogging our way, looking all fit and trim, but Nancy herself! We talked briefly, and she warned us about crossing the street up ahead(what could possibly go wrong when crossing the street where the hospital faces the Wal-Mart?) and off she went. Yes, that does count as a blogger meetup.
We showed our house to Marc Olson, who immediately spotted some old fixtures that we saw no value in, but were little treasures to him. It was a little toilet (stamped Chas. Hess Co. New York) and a tin shower spout. Of course, we let him take them. He came back the next day with a hacksaw and some tools, and put them in the back of his car. We were happy to see them appreciated and given a chance of a second life in a good home.
In return, he gave us a ride to Ellen Fields‘ tag sale all the way down in San Sebastian. I’m now in possession of several of her books, and a cunning little ash tray that doubles as a metallic sculptural piece (or is it the other way around). It was great to see the sprawling house up close, especially after following the story of its construction in her blog. The gardens, in particular, are amazing. That’s a small detail of it at the top of this post. And guess who I ran in to there. Jonna! We had a great talk, and I implored her to resume blogging. She said she’ll be back online sometime soon.
We hired a blogger to drive us to the beach. This is a topic I’m reserving for another post as well. But in the meantime, suffice it to say that we loved every minute with William Lawson. When I read his blog, my mind’s eye somehow formed a picture that is very different than reality. Now I have to go back and read his whole blog all over again. There goes my weekend.
Who’s missing from this roster? A lot of people! Debi and Tom are playing tourist in Spain and Portugal, and happily, they’re blogging up a storm from the other side of the Atlantic. I’d love to catch up with Sara, and see how her house is coming along. We wish we had her confidence in dealing directly with contractors. And I still have yet to sync up with Pat Q. without actually visiting St. Louis.
If we didn’t see them in person, we connected with other bloggers by pure snooping. We walked past the house of our friends John and Alan, who live fairly close by. Their house gets snapped up by renters fairly often, and this time, a car with Florida plates was in the garage. But it didn’t quite fit. Its tail overhung the garage just enough to prevent the door from shutting. I emailed John and Alan about it, to make sure that the open garage didn’t leave them vulnerable to any intruders. They assured us it was OK. Hey, just trying to be a good (if only a little nosy) neighbor. I’d hope someone would tell me if my garage door were being left open.
Recently I enjoyed a phone conversation with yet another blogger, Susan, who will someday live just a couple of blocks away from us. We compared notes and shared tips. When we checked out her casa last week, we noticed that we were being noticed from the lady across the street. She said nothing, but I could tell she was watching out for her new neighbor’s property. I emailed her that night and said that if you hear about a couple of gringos eyeing her facade, it was us. So technically, we didn’t meet up, but we did snoop around at her house, so that counts for something. Right?