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Starbucks & Others Come to Merida

13 November 2007 News

The Sweet Smell of Starbucks

Working Gringos Report: Yep, Starbucks opened their doors in Merida this week, just as we predicted a few months ago. The old Wendy's location at the entrance to the Gran Plaza parking lot has been transformed into a very spacious and efficient Starbucks store with a lovely drive-through window, complete with well-trained order takers. We drove right up and paid the big bucks for our usual coffee drinks, and they tasted just as good as we remembered...better, actually! Because we were drinking them in Merida! Those drinks have joined our idea of "comfort food" and we must admit, those two pricey drinks in those familiar cups made us almost giddy. But a caramel machiatto and a cafe mocha wasn't enough to mark the occasion. We also bought ourselves matching Merida Starbucks cups! Expensive? you bet. But a cup with those two words on it? Priceless! Apparently, our friends at Dropped-In were right behind (or in front of...) us, having a similar experience! Now if we can only figure out a more legitimate reason to drive up to the Gran Plaza every morning...

The State Fair

There's not a lot of news this week because all eyes are on the State Fair. Working Gringos hope to get to the fair this week...for the first time ever! So stay tuned this week and next for news from the State Fair in Yucatan!

Numbers of Extranjeros Growing

INM (Institute of National Migration) reports that they handled 3,817 requests to remain in Yucatan for a total of 4,131 extranjeros between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2007. They had, at one time, reported as many as 500 applications per month and are, evidently, approving more than 400 a month. The tone of the report is quite tolerant, implying that all the extranjeros seem to want to do is extend their stays indefinitely so they will have time to decide if Merida is the place in which they want to settle. What we find interesting is those extra 314 people in the report. If there were 3,817 requests to remain in the country, and if this benefited 4,131 extranjeros, then maybe that means our population of children is growing at the tidy little clip of about 35 per month. That seems like a lot of kids. But if it's true, what a wonderful experience they have ahead of them!

The Black Christ of Sitilpech

Cristo Negro (the black Christ) is the patron saint of laborers and is highly revered in both the Mestizo and Mayan populations of Yucatán. Every year, on the morning of October 18, the Catholics of Izamal walk 4 km to the small pueblo of Sitilpech, which is the home of Cristo Negro. There is then a procession which brings Cristo Negro to Izamal, where he is installed in the convent for approximately one month. At the end of that time, which was this past week, the procession is in the other direction. The citizens who worship the Cristo Negro go out to meet the statue on the outskirts of Sitilpech and joyfully bring him home. This year, there were 8,000 Catholics waiting to bring Cristo Negro back to join the Virgin Mary in Sitilpech. Mark your 2008 calendars for this festival next year!


It seems that there is a statue of Ricardo Palmerín in Tekax and the statue has quite a nice size concrete base. The citizens are in an uproar because some people have been using the base of the statue as a local bulletin board by sticking all manner of little signs and posters on it. This week, matters got worse… It seems that some malvivientes have taken to painting graffiti on the base of the statue. Our sympathy is with the citizens who do not want to see their monument defaced, but we have to admit that we just love that word… malvivientes … (loosely translated: lowlifes). And the Working Gringos want to add that they actually love well-executed graffiti too...

Old Folks Dance in Tekax

Well – its official – the elderly folks in Tekax have, at least temporarily, given up the concept by which old folks have been formally defined for generations. This past weekend, they took up dancing the jarana in the municipal plaza. They are making all kinds of noise about joy and life… and even have their own club now, named “Color and Hope.” To add to their statement of their new identity, they even had some friends over for the day, another senior citizens' club, The Club of the Older Adults of Dzemul. What a joy to see the older Yucatecos having just plain fun – while leaving that “old folks” image far far behind. Yucatan Living wishes them all the best.

Traveling in the Southern Part of the State

If you decide to have an adventure, and head off for the southern part of the state, please be very careful. Many of the outlying towns and villages have been completely cut off due to road erosion following heavy rains that just don't seem to want to quit. This is not to say that you shouldn't head south, just try to stay on the main roads that go to major cities. Save that exploring trip for the dry season.


In recent months, Motul has put on a new face and is rapidly becoming a destination for those who are looking for a little less traffic, a little easier drive to a little less crowded beaches, but within minutes of the city of Merida and all that it still has to offer. Motul has good schools, its own newspaper, and is moving forward with all deliberate speed. There, you'll find country living near the city and even the beginnings of horse country. If you are a history buff, Motul was the birthplace of Governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto, also known as the Apostle of the Indians and the Red Dragon with the Eyes of Jade. He was murdered in 1924, but leaves a rich legacy behind that still exists today. Last time we were in Motul, we bought some great live plants from a few Mayan ladies selling them on the street. We walked through a lively mercado, sat in the equally well-attended central square and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Yucatan has something for everyone, so do visit Motul before you make the final decision of where to live.

Please Remember Tabasco

Many of the people in Tabasco are still in shelters in other states, but even more have gone home, rolled up their sleeves, and started the hard, physical labor of rebuilding their lives. We know that, as extranjeros, we are not supposed to become involved in politics, but we do not know the Governor of Tabasco, nor do we even know his political party. What we do know is that, during the floods, he was on the levee with a shovel, working side by side with the people in an effort to save Villahermosa. Today, he is still in his shirt sleeves, working with the people to rebuild the State of Tabasco. Many have commented that this is the first governor they have ever seen who would do such a thing. We suggest that other politicians, throughout the world, take a page out of this man's book and pick up a shovel for the sole purpose of helping their people until the job is done, and not simply for the photo-op. In the meantime, the people of Tabasco are still in need of many basic supplies and of money. We are assured that the aid that has been sent by all organizations has been combined and then given out to the people so that equity could be preserved. You can see more on this tragedy on the website of Estado de Tabasco. And of course, if you want to help or send money, you can find out more on our article about the Tabasco flooding. We want to thank the many people who have sent money for the Tabasco victims through Yucatan Living, and encourage any others to please be generous.


  • barry peters 7 years ago

    Read up on how Starbucks do business and you´ll better understand the implications for local competitors.

    For example, anyone notice their choice of second and third locations in Playa? One is a few doors from Cafe Sasta, the other a few doors from Cafe Corazon.

    Coincidence? Of course not. Starbucks is a very aggressive corporation. Sometimes they open two shops near an established coffee shop so as to make their business marginal. Over time local operators go out of business and a town sees less choice not more.

  • vincent 'alamo' 7 years ago

    m moguel,

    starbuck's is immensely popular and the coffee is far superior to MCD. You really have to know a bit about coffee and the process. I now only grind and french press my starbuck's espresso roast daily. As an Italian-American coffee is an essential part of our heritage and family comraderie..lol... I will agree, that MCD looks like a good trade now. And the chart is fantastic...i would be a buyer of MCD here with a stop at the 50day moving average..SBUX has also offered a great trade and i see a cup and handle pattern on the daily...i think they both make for good trades. I must be upfront I am an independent trader and also am involved with a newsletter for traders. I am currently searching for a property in Merida and will be offering a trading boot camp or trading lessons to show people how to empower themselves thru trading...I will be inviting U.S. clients, but with so many ex-pats in Merida this may work well here too...what i do is not investing...long gone are the days of holding stocks for decades like my grandparent's did. I speak spanish and will be married to a woman from GDL within the next year. Ive travelled thru much of Mexico and have been involved in helping some remote mayan villages post-hurricane troubles of a few years ago. I will be arriving in Merida Tuesday to continue my search for a property.

  • M. Moguel 7 years ago

    I don't enjoy Starbucks because (I believe) people just drink there to look "cool" and show off, "Look at me enjoying my overpriced coffee, I must be cool and successful."

    The Starbucks Company in the U.S. is doing horrible! Why? Part of the reason is because McDonald's (ticker symbol, MCD) is now offering better tasting coffee (including delicious iced coffee) for a fraction of the price.

    Do the McDonald's in Merida offer Iced Coffee yet?

    *McDonald's is also another great company to invest in.

  • jb05 7 years ago

    oh! i forgot, i really do think it's great that americans and canadians come here and fall in love with merida and all the surrounding cities, but as an insight from a Yucateco, starbucks doesn't have the same quality as in canada, us or even mexico city, it might have the flavour, but the quality just isnt there, and sadly, people here in merida don't go to starbucks because it's "good coffee", they go there for the same reason most yucatecos do things: show off. next time some of you happen to be there look every time someone enters thru the door, the first thing that person/persons will do is look arround to look for someone that might know him/her, OH and god forbid if they're not wearing at least 1 designer brand clothing or sunglasses or something else, because what would people say about that..

    so to sum up, starbucks and big franchises is not a real problem here, because with or without them, the real issue is the way people think and act, the way gossip is perfectly acceptable and even necesary.. anyways.. go to EL HOYO (downtown on 62nd street)

    ps. the mug they made (the one you show at the top) it's the most horrible mug i'd ever seen, there's no design to it, it's.. it's.. it almost makes me puke every time i see it.

  • jb05 7 years ago

    joseph.. taco BELL isn't the same as taco INN, el fogoncito used to be taco INN and went broke after several succesful years and it wasn't because of the kind of food they used to serve (that wasn't mexican-american food by the way, it was mexican all the way) it went broke due to sanitation issues.

  • Elsie 7 years ago

    To me it's quite a culture shock to see Yucatecos paying 40 pesos for a cup of coffee. More than most people here pay for an entire days worth of food. Two or three cups is more than many make in a day. Just to put it in perspective.

  • kathy 8 years ago

    I totally agree with Jackie. Although I do appreicate "el cafe de la olla"; it will be nice to run into a starbucks and enjoy a double tall non fat latte.

  • Jackie 8 years ago

    Starbucks is comforting for Americans when traveling abroad...and It's nice to have a cup of Joe we so enjoy while visitng new places.

  • Jackie 8 years ago

    Yes it's ture that we 2nd generation Yucateco Americanos love to visit our authentic Yucatan, with it's papzules, salbutes and crystal negras...but come on? we have to Admitt..Starbucks in Merida is SO COOL !!! hope they have soy latte ...TOO COOL!!!


    @Steve - Carol doesn't live near Hank Hill. But, I do. lol :-) The fictional cartoon is based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. You would love Texas Steve. Like I said, it has the best of both worlds and cultures. The Mexican culture is from both the Mexicanos who are coming here and the TexMex's or Tejanos of Mexican decent. I invite you to visit the Lone Star State. I'm afraid though if you seek Yucateco food, you must visit Houston. The DFW area has no Yucateco resturants :-( . We do have a resturant that make Salvadorian tamales (maya) and tamales from Oaxaca. I will be in Merida January 23-27. If any one of you from Merida know a good place to stay 5 days for $100.00 usd or less, let me know. ;-)

  • Joseph 8 years ago

    Oh and yes, I'm pretty sure those are mating noises... those naughty birds should be put in jail 8-)

  • Joseph 8 years ago

    Jaime Luis:

    True... True...

    Me, being the average middle class Yucateco that has lived here all his life and has rarely left this country (MX), I do appreciate new things and new choices from time to time, which I guess some people from the USA are sick of, they just want the peace and tranquility they deserve after working hard all their life. And the beauty of Merida (among other Mexico cities I guess) is that you CAN have both.

    If I was to relocate to New York or Washington, maybe the last thing I'd wanna see is a cochinita stand on every corner, or being offered a plate of "Relleno Negro" in Italy.

    Oh, and sorry about the misspellings and typos, but I get so excited that I type too fast and screw up :D ... also, the fact that my written english is not very good doesn't help! :(

    I'm gald the bairn is so pwfloeurl it olny nedes the frsit and lsat lteter of ecah wrod to ursenadtnd the cnoetnt ;)

  • Steve 8 years ago

    I feel a need to clarify....

    Jaime Luis... I think you get my drift, but for the record, I didn't intend for my thoughts (misspelled as they were I see now) to be a commentary on global cultural changes and US economic imperialism - only that: a) I personally like zocalos (and cities that host them) as they are... I'd rather not have a Home Depot on Piazza San Marco nor a Chuckie Cheese at the Vatican (even though those fine establishments proffer quality goods and services which I have availed myself of from time to time); and b) I do truly find it bizarre that Starbuck's coffee and related paraphernalia (particularly unspiked) makes anyone giddy. By the way, it's the BIRDS that are making those mating noises?

    Carol... should you have been thinking of MY comments when mentioning "negative attitudes" towards the US, nothing could be further from the truth; it should be plain to any thinking person (and it is to me) that Starbucks is an excellent representation of America's culture and its provision of jobs to people "down here" should only be seen as an excellent contribution to Mexico and her people. By the way, do you live anywhere near Hank Hill?

    Now hmmmm.... which shall it be: the red, white or blue pill???....

  • Carlos Daniel Gallegos 8 years ago

    My wife, Working Yucateca, concerns about outsiders to the Yucatan is expressed in many of the comments here. I tell many that the calle Paseo de Montejo should be called the Avenue of the USA. There are so many U.S. businesses on this calle. I agree with Khaki though. As long as the Culture is kept alive, especially among the youth, it can never be touched by outside influences. The dance La Jarana in Centro during Merida en Domingos is one good example. My young hispanics in the USA are pushing their culture away. Do not let that happen in Mexico or the Yucatan. ;-)

  • Carlos Daniel Gallegos 8 years ago

    When I mentioned earlier the concerns of Working Yucateca and her family and friends about outsiders in the Yucatan, is what many of you expressed here. I often tell people when you visit Merida, go to the Paseo de Montejo and the Prolongacion de Montejo. I call this the U.S. Highway in Merida, because of all the U.S. businesses on this calle. There is a McDonalds in Centro. Not in Plaza Grande, but a few steps south of there. There is also Burger King, KFC, and Subway in Centro. Glad to Janine wants to move to Texas lol:-) Texas has the best of both worlds, the USA and Mexico. the Border to DFW (where I live). Khaki is right too, as long as each one keep Yucateco culture alive, nothing can wipe it out. The Spannish tried and failed to completely wipe out Maya culture. Teach your young ones the traditions. I'm afraid though many hispanics in the USA are allowing the modern culture to wipe out the hispanic culture, even in not learning espanol. Many are trying to be African-American hip hopish than hispanic. Keep Yucateco Culture alive! ;-)

  • Michael 8 years ago

    After 5 years I finally am ready to start using my house in Merida. I have been anticipating the time when I would be able to spend time there. There aren't many places anymore the world over that remain untouched by the western idea of 21st century civilization. Seven years ago I went to Bejing, China. There they were against Starbucks being added to the pantheon of businesses that detracted from local ones. Yes it was good for the tourists because they were afraid of everything foreign. Seeing something familiar helped them choose what they were used to and the difference was a Chinese person who spoke no English was helping them. That was their idea of a China experience.
    I think Merida will suffer the same thing. One hopeful idea is that locals and expats will continue to frequent their old favorites and maybe suggest to the owners how to spruce up and try to attract new people in way that promotes their businesses. Maybe get more Yucatecan not less. Offer something for guests to remember. We can do them a great service by this. It will make them be able to compete with the ones to come in and try take away what local small business owners are hoping one day to benefit from, Merida's new-found fame as a destination to world travelers. That is what is not fair to Merida and Meridanos, the potential loss in foreign tourism's pesos.

  • jaime luis 8 years ago


    OUCH! i guess i deserved that...you are right on several fronts. i believe in "live and let live", too. i DO find it a tad BIZARRE (steve's word), if not downright stunning, that anyone might find starbucks mugs and drive-up window a reason to be "giddy". oh well, WHATEVER BLOWS YOUR SKIRT UP!

    p.s. a little tip/advice: if you're planning to continue slapping people into shape, you might want to learn how to spell, DUDE! (or just get spellcheck.)

  • Khaki 8 years ago


    What is perceived as a “negative attitude” toward the U.S. often is the outgrowth of extreme disappointment in the nation many expats believed the U.S. would grow to be. In addition, it has often been many years since some expats have been back to the States for any length of time. So what they see there, on visits and in the papers, compared to their peaceful reality in Yucatan, is shocking. I remember asking one 85+ year old, gringa if she would be returning to the States and she immediately replied: “Oh NOOoooo! I would be too aFRAID!” So we have expat “attitudes” toward the U.S. that are all over the map, and based on as many different circumstances as there are expats to have opinions. Because of that, it may take some expats a few minutes to get over their fears and realize that the appearance of Starbucks does not herald the end of Yucateco culture – nor does it foreshadow “it” coming from a troublesome U.S. to destroy the safety of their new homes. Just give everybody a second to adjust and they’ll all be fine. And Joseph is absolutely correct. They won’t stay if nobody buys from them. After all… business is business.

  • Joseph 8 years ago

    Jaime Luis:

    Remember dude, Taco Bell has already been here (on Prolongacion Montejo where "El Fogoncito" is now) and it closed its doors after a while because people didn't like it.

    If it's good, it will stay, if it's not, it will go... that's the way it is, anywhere...

    If you pay more for a mediocre product, then it's nobody's fault but yours, they didn't crawl in the middle of the night into your home and took your wallet out of your pocket. You don't HAVE TO go and spend your hard earned money there.

    I think some people call the arrive of Starbucks "progress" because well, progress brings both opportunities and choices, and Starbucks created a handfull of jobs and people have now one more expensive-coffee-place to choose from.

    On the other hand, anyone who really thinks that Merida is or was retrograde because it didn't have a Starbucks needs to be slapped into reality.


    You make it sound like if Starbucks came to REPLACE the zocalo and its coffee shops in the centro. I don't think it's a replacement, I think of it more as an adition, the only thing you have to do is make a choice.

    If you like to spend $4 USD for a coffee (not me!) that was excreted by a machine that sounds like that small robot from Star Wars, then drive north and go to Starbucks, if you want your coffee "home made style" while sitting outside listening to birds making mating noises, then stay in the zocalo.

    Chances are anyway, that most (if not all) of the people who will go routinely to Starbucks to get their coffee, would never go to the Zocalo to do the same thing.

    I think that anyone that is made uncomfortable by the fact that Merida is becoming more "global", maybe should try moving to a smaller colonial city like the gorgeus Izamal, and when Izamal grows as more foreigners move in and new businesses open up, just move out to other small city and so on.

    You can have the red pill, or the blue pill... it's all about choices...

  • Carol 8 years ago

    Why do so many of you have this "negative" attitude about the USA? I live on the border in Texas, and we have learned to love both the US and Mexico- get over it people- Starbuck's is giving people jobs down there! Be happy!! Carol

  • Steve 8 years ago

    Guys - Seriously... get a life. I find it hard to understand how the arrival of Starbucks and any other American chain store can be viewed as a positive impact anywhere - even in American, let alone cities like Merida, which is wonderful precisely because it's not like Seattle. Starbucks has great coffee - but not as great as the little place on the zocalo, and its drive-through window is the diametric opposite representation of what a coffee or cafe experience should be. In just about every other blog post you've made, we readers appreciate your sensitivity - even passion - for the experience that is Merida... that is Mexico. I find the idea of you guys giving even a passing thought to a Starbucks - much less buying a mug and blogging about it - absolutely bizarre. What's next? Drooling for when the Golden Arches arrives on the zocalo? - And, I guess, why not - It fits right into the Spanish Steps... why not there - and at Chichen Itza?

  • Khaki 8 years ago

    Re: I can see the days of the chocolate caliente like my and many other Chichis would make slowly fading away and being lost in history. I just would hate to see the ojaldra being replaced over a lemon scone or rice crispy square.

    Then we must all work very hard to preserve the culture that we found here and first fell in love with - Yucatecos and gringos together. Yes? Chain stores can't destroy cultures - only forgetting can do that. So we must remember and celebrate... deal with local merchants as much as possible and only go to chain stores when there is no other alternative.

  • jaime luis 8 years ago

    more "progress"? ! hey, why not bring TACO BELL to merida, so that those irritating little taco stands can be displaced, and we can pay more for a mediocre product! and replace those crowded outdoor mercados with huge air-conditioned grocery stores...or, if you're impatient, just move to any american suburb! OUR POOR MERIDA!
    bumper sticker seen recently: FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS GO TO STARBUCKS!

  • Janine 8 years ago

    So true about the love/hate relationship...I am planning on relocating to Merida sometime next year to escape the crazy American scene, but maybe I should move to Texas instead! ;)

  • Carlos 8 years ago

    Should have seen that one coming. There is Wal-Mart, Costco, McDonalds etc. If we really wanted all that we could have stayed in the good old USA. (double Yuck!)

  • Larry 8 years ago

    Migrating as we did last year from the Seattle/Tacoma area, the arrival of a new Starbucks doesn´t thrill us that much. Besides, we alway found the coffee at Tully´s (a major Seattle competitor) or Seattle´s Best much better. I do have to admit the mugs are verrrry cool!

  • RJMoguel 8 years ago

    Such a love hate relationship. I hate the fact that the Merida that I remember as a child is changing and becoming more like the America I would escape from every summer. But as an adult now, I sure do love my commercialized American coffee!

    If I had to put in my two cents I would say, BOOOOO. I can see the days of the chocolate caliente like my and many other Chichis would make slowly fading away and being lost in history. I just would hate to see the ojaldra being replaced over a lemon scone or rice crispy square.

  • Jack 8 years ago

    Starbucks in Merida: Wow! Speaking of growth...Yuck...There is already three in Playa and it changed the landscape forever.

  • Carlos Daniel Gallegos 8 years ago

    1. Starbucks - Another Yankee company for the rich Mexicanos and gringos. Yuk. Give me the modest everyday life of the simple folk.

    2. Extranjeros growing - Got to tell Working Yucateco to lock her door. lol She, her familia, and amigos are already concerned about the growing number of outsiders in the Yucatan. Maybe we should trade countries? All the Mexicanos can have the USA and the gringos can have Mexico. From the way many gringos here in Texas sound, we already live in Mexico. :-) There is a large Mexican population in Texas. I welcome many more to our state. I love the foods and the musica.

  • DiegoLuego 8 years ago

    When I studied in Mérida last year, the single biggest adjustment was not being able to find good coffee. The week before I left I finally found a good (actually, pretty darn great) cup at one of the cafes on the zócalo. I rarely hit Starbucks here in Asheville, but I'll be glad to see that mermaid the next time I'm in Mérida. Plus I must have one of those awesome mugs!

  • Malcolm 8 years ago

    Ha! Couldn't agree more on the Starbucks front! Is it worth driving in from Progreso each morning? Maybe...

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