Let’s review. First there was “Living in Mérida.” Like I said before, the 2008 book, just recently updated, has a generally sunny tone, with nary a negative thing to say about anyone. It includes informally gathered lists of recommended people, places and agencies to pave your way. Proceeds benefits two charities.
Now there is new a guidebook, much more opinionated and accusatory. It offers no fairy dust, in some chapters taking on the tone of a consumer advocate.
The book arrived yesterday, and I tore through it, skimming past the typical historical and cultural sections, the ABCs on driving or flying, the descriptions of the colonias, and the mores of everyday life. I went straight to the dirt. Mainly, I was promised a list of the three real estate companies to avoid.
Finally, after a long list of recommended agencies, there was a little box with the Big 3. One of them I hadn’t even heard of. The other two I had. Their presence on the list was explained only in the most general of terms, with nothing to substantiate it.
Later in the book, more poison darts are thrown with very little explanation. This adverse list is explained to be populated with prominent folks in the service industry who “have been known to have complaints filed against them” and “they have been known to leave their customers unsatisfied.” Well, that’s a little vague. The list is also surprising, not least to the bed and breakfast whose No. 2 ranking on TripAdvisor came as a result of 325 guests who bestowed them with five stars on average.
Elsewhere, dirt about the “scoff-law” Mérida English Language Library and the AIDS charity Brazos Abiertos — stuff that was brought up earlier only and strongly refuted by a huge chorus of supporters — is rehashed. A call to boycott Yucatán Today brings things way over the top.
Neither book has lists that are based on surveys or research of any kind. They are both the results of very personal biases, pro or con. The authors don’t feel the need to substantiate their findings.
Here’s the rub. The original “Living in Mérida” could get muscled out by this newcomer, mainly because it is not on Amazon. (In fact, if you type “Living in Mérida” on Amazon, this newer book with its similar title comes up first.) I can only find the first book on a PayPal link on this obscure website, and I really had to hunt. Worse, the PayPal link didn’t work today when I tried it.
The new book is much larger and more robust, cheaper (it’s been reduced on Amazon, now $14.96; it was $22 when I bought it), more accessible, and is more provocative. What if this new book became the dominant guidebook to the White City? Think of that.