Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Luck of the Irish

KINGSBRIDGE, ENGLAND. Lucky, at least in my case that is, to live in Yucatan, where winter weather is something that happens somewhere else. Since my last dispatch from Dublin, the weather deteriorated. I relocated to the UK, where cool temperatures, heavy rain, and strong winds have prevailed for the last 2 weeks. As I write, the sun is shining, but it is cold, and once again is the proverbial calm before the storm, since tonight, more heavy rain and winds of 50 km/hour are expected, with similar conditions continuing over the next few days. Temperatures will range between 2°c at night, to highs around 9°c or 10°c.

A glance at the weather forecast for Merida for the next few days shows sunny conditions, lows around 20°c and highs around 28°c. More perfect conditions are hard to imagine, and once again I find myself thanking providence for bringing me to Yucatan, and wondering why more northern Europeans haven’t realized what a great option our state represents, both in terms of weather and cost of living. I was reminded of this last week, when taking a 15 minute bus ride in Torquay, a resort town on the Devon coast. The cost was £2.90 (approx. $62 pesos). In Bristol, the one way journey (of around 30 minutes) from the airport to the city center is £7.00 (approx. $150 pesos). In Dublin (again around 30 minutes), €6.00 (approx. $110 pesos). Bear in mind, we are talking about public buses here, not private transfers. Housing and utility costs in the UK are also astronomical, with heating costs taking up a large part of many household budgets. Again, I encourage anyone looking for a cheaper, more pleasant or warmer lifestyle to look towards Yucatan!

Meanwhile, back in Merida, people are recovering from the festivities of ‘Noche Buena’ and looking forward to New Year’s Eve. Over in Tizimin, the Feria de Reyes runs until January 19, and is well worth a visit, as is the city itself. More information is available here:

In Merida itself, the Merida Fest (formerly known as the Festival de la Ciudad) will run from January 5 to 31, and the program is available here:

Since this will be my final dispatch of 2013, I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to my readers, and to wish you “Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh”, or, more commonly used in Merida, “feliz año nuevo!!” I’ll be heading home to Merida myself next week, looking forward to an excellent year ahead.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

In Dublin's Fair City

DUBLIN, IRELAND. In September this year, Ireland officially exited from the recession that started in 2008, the year when the ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom suddenly came to a grinding halt. The following years were brutal for the country, which fell deeply into depression. That, it seems, is all behind them, and if the activity seen on the streets of Dublin this week is anything to go by, the economic picture is looking a lot brighter. Vast crowds fill the streets, shopping crazily. Even the typical Irish weather (mainly gloomy, with frequent drizzle - at least once per day seems to be mandatory) isn’t keeping them at home. Prices for hotels, food, and other tourist related services, which fell dramatically after 2008 are climbing again. Things, at least on the surface, seem to be improving.

Eager to escape the wildly shopping crowds, I made the short trip by DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train to the coastal village of Howth, a short distance to the north-east of the city. A large marina, fishing fleet, and gorgeous coastal scenery await the visitor, although at this time of year, the icy wind off the sea meant that the views were better enjoyed from behind the window of one of the many pubs and restaurants.

In Dublin, as in any major city in northern Europe or the USA, I am reminded of the rushed and hurried lives that people lead in these places. I need only step outside to see people literally running; and they are not doing it for exercise. There are business men in suits, business women in smart skirts and heels, all running for buses, running for trains, and presumably running to, from, and between appointments. They look stressed, they look harassed, and they look tired. Such is life in the rat race, and seeing it once again reminds me how happy I am to be living in Merida. The Mexican habit of arriving late can sometime be annoying, but it sure beats having a stress related heart attack while running to catch a bus in order to arrive on time. To my ‘paisanos’ (countrymen) in Ireland, I invite you to come and visit Merida, to experience the peace and tranquility of life in Yucatan. Oh, and need I mention, the weather is better, too?

What else this week? In the entire country of Mexico, December 12 marks the ‘Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe’ – a major religious event, which is fascinating to witness, whether or not you are a believer. In Merida, the events center around the ‘Iglesia de San Cristobal’, at the intersection of Calle 50 and Calle 69.

Any Ricky Martin fans out there? If you didn’t already know, he will be performing at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, on December 28. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

From the chilly city of Dublin, I wish you all ‘Feliz Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe’!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Transatlantic Reporting

I’m coming to you this week from the beautiful town of Kingsbridge, in Devon, England, where I will be based for the next few weeks. It’s not the best time to be in the UK, at least from a weather point of view, nor to be away from Merida, where of course the cooler sunny winter weather is starting, and we are welcoming back many of our seasonal residents.

I traveled from Merida via Mexico City and Amsterdam, on a ticket booked with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. From Merida to Mexico City, the flight is operated by AeroMexico, connecting with KLM’s service to Amsterdam. While I am no great fan of AeroMexico, KLM offers one of the best economy class products across the Atlantic, with good food, friendly service, and a wide selection of entertainment, and is always a pleasurable way to cross. Amsterdam is a great airport to use as a connecting point, with quick transit, and a wide selection of onward connections to Europe, Asia, and further afield.

For the next few weeks, I will be bringing you some observations from this side of ‘the pond’ as well as continuing to feature Merida and its events. Next week, I will be reporting from Dublin, Ireland, home of course to the world’s most famous pint.

Today, the internet is overwhelmed with expressions of grief for Paul Walker, an actor, who died in a car crash in his Porsche in Los Angeles. It would seem that vast numbers of people are in mourning. Apparently, I am one of the few people on the planet who had never heard of him, yet I consider myself fortunate that my life in Merida keeps me occupied enough that I don’t know the current ‘celebrities’. Keeping some perspective, I also read today that according to the United Nations, 21,000 people die of hunger every day in the world. For sure some of them are in Mexico. Strangely, no one feels the need to express their grief for them.

What else this week? The Feria Yucatan concluded yesterday, hopefully if you are in Merida, you managed to visit at least once.

Have you visited Canada Burger yet? Rave reviews continue to pour in, so if you haven’t tried this culinary treat yet, check our article here: and then go taste it for yourself!

And it’s the last week for Chaud Devant, at UVM. If you haven’t been, make the effort before they close! More details in our story here:

Saturday December 7 will mark the second ‘Noche Blanca’ in the centro of Merida. Did you attend the first one? It was a great success, and all indications are that the second one will be even better. A wide range of cultural activities will be taking place in locations in centro, including free entrance to museums, and many discounts at restaurants and bars. The event runs from 8pm to 2am, so come along and enjoy.