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Grocery Shopping in Merida

Shopping for groceries in Merida, even after four years, is not the mindless but somehow comforting activity we used to take for granted back in California.

As the Mexican economy has improved and Mexican corporations have begun to join the 21st Century, grocery shopping in Merida has gotten easier and less strange.

Note we said “less” strange… but not NOT strange.

First of all, there’s the all important choice of where to shop. For some reason, there is no one place that has everything we need on a regular basis. If we weren’t fond of some of the foods that we grew up with and now feel we would rather not do without, we might be able to get by with the more local choices for grocery shopping: the downtown mercado (market), the neighborhood mercados, the ISSTEY, or the corner tendejones.

Mercados, Tendejones, Oh My!

The downtown mercado has great fresh local vegetables and fruits, as well as all sorts of exotic things made and grown locally, and a wide assortment of things everyone needs like socks, underwear, shoes, birds, pirated CDs, hammock hooks, flowers, huipiles, votive candles, pig heads and Christmas lights. It’s incredibly picturesque, alternately charming and squalid. The problem with shopping in the mercado is we mostly want to whip out our cameras all the time, and very little shopping gets done.

And we can’t find black tea or cinnamon Pop Tarts in the mercado to save our souls. On top of that, each neighborhood market is different. Our local mercado in Parque Santa Ana is good for fresh vegetables and fruit in season. Fresh squeezed jugo de naranja and toronja (orange and grapefruit juice) is cheap there, and for a quick panucho or a plate of cochinita pibil, it’s the perfect place. But again, no Pop Tarts. And we wouldn’t shop there for meat. Meat is there, out on the counter, but we just can’t bring ourselves to buy it there.

Let’s get something straight. We really don’t eat *that* many Pop Tarts… consider “Pop Tarts” a literary device, a metaphor, to indicate any number of things that we want to buy that were widely available back in the States, but not here. As time goes on, the list of these products is less and less, or we care about them less and less… but there’s always something!

Another shopping option is ISSTEY, the government-subsidized grocery store that is on Calle 60 at Calle 49. It’s a great place to buy packaged goods manufactured in Mexico (mostly) and the USA. We can buy Ritz crackers, hot dogs, rice or toilet paper at ISSTEY, but no fresh fruits or vegetables. And, you guessed it, no Pop Tarts. If we’re in the office whipping up a quick lunch and suddenly realize we don’t have any mustard, or perhaps the hidden stash of potato chips has been invaded by marauding ants, then we dash down to the corner tendejon. In the States, long before 7-11 convenience stores, there were little mom and pop grocery stores. Remember those? They sold a variety of things you need just to get through the day, like mustard and potato chips and ice and aspirin and votive candles and little bags of colored balloons. Those stores still exist here in Merida. There’s one on every corner, or so it seems. The tendejon near our office really outdoes itself by offering over 20 flavors of potato chips, along with freshly made salbutes and tortas. You can also get every kind of soft drink you might want, as long as you might want a Coke. Increasingly, the food offered at these stores seems designed to add to the increasing obesity problem, a sad development. We like the stores that still sell fresh food and some fresh vegetables or fruits, and we try to frequent them when we can.

Grocery Stores

So, that brings us to the next tier of grocery store choices, which we organize into three categories: Mexican chains, multi-national chains and bulk-item chains. The Mexican chains that have stores in Merida are Chedraui, Soriana, MEGA (Commercial Mexicana), Superama (owned by Walmart) and Bodega Aurrera, a Mexican-flavored lower-income version of WalMart (also owned by WalMart). Each have multiple locations here and all seem to follow the same model, which is similar to the WalMart here. Each store has groceries, a pharmacy, clothing, toys, a garden section, a hardware section… y tanto mas! Um, a word about Superama… it really is in a class by itself. Though owned by WalMart, it does its best to be the most upscale grocery store in Merida. It’s located in the North, naturally (on the way to Gran Plaza on the right… you can’t miss it). It feels the most like a US grocery store. And it has higher prices. Sometimes it even has better merchandise… but honestly, not often enough that we shop there all the time.

Of the three Mexican chains, we have come to prefer the newly-opened and architecturally-challenged, garishly- orange MEGA store. While we decry the way the store looks (those big orange letters give new meaning to the term “eyesore”), we love the fresh-baked bread, the occasional foreign foods (at Christmas we found our favorite Dutch cookies there!) and the extensive meat and vegetable departments. We can buy most of what we need there on a weekly basis, though not all, and sometimes we even find an item of clothing we like there. Yes, we shop for clothes at Mega sometimes… now you know one of our dirty little secrets. Other local grocery store chains include Soriana, Chedraui, Bodega Aurrera (owned by WalMart) and Superama. Superama probably deserves a mention. It is an upscale grocery store that is also owned by WalMart. At this writing, there is only one in Merida, on Prolongación Paseo Montejo in the north (before you get to Gran Plaza, on the right, parking underneath). You can find gourmet items at Superama that you won’t find at other grocery stores here. You can find more expensive cuts of beef, better cookies, cheeses, breads and organic vegetables. You will pay for the privilege, but sometimes what you are looking for is at Superama.

If you want to shop for groceries at a multi-national chain store, you have one choice: WalMart (photo above). Suffice it to say, WalMart has Pop Tarts. We cringe as we shop there, hating ourselves for supporting the cheap-labor-exploiting, local-culture-destroying, domineering corporate monster that WalMart is. But sometimes, it’s the only place to find really important stuff, like… you know. (And to be fair, WalMart is a better neighbor and employer here than in the States. No credit due WalMart. It’s Mexican law that makes them that way.) The most popular (with expats) Merida WalMart is located at the busy intersection of Paseo de Montejo and Avenida Colon, across from the Hotel Fiesta Americana. It opens early (7 AM) and stays open late (until 11 PM). It doesn’t seem to close for holidays either. There are more WalMarts around Merida… at last count, we think there are three. One in City Center to the East and one just past Plaza Dorada to the West, and probably one has been built since you started reading this article.

A Tip about Tips

Before we go on, and while we are on the subject of employee relations, a word about propinas (tips). In your grocery shopping experience, you will regularly come across two kinds of service people that expect and deserve (usually) a tip. The first is the young man or woman who bags your groceries. In most stores, the grocery baggers are students, some of whom seem very young, but all of whom probably really value this opportunity to contribute to their family income. On rare occasions (and only if you ask) the baggers will actually bring your bags out to your car for you. But most people just let them bag the groceries and tip them a few pesos for the service (we usually tip 5 pesos or more if they did a good job). One of the things we love about Mega is that they also employ senior citizens as grocery baggers. Those seniors have carried a bag or two in their time and they tend to bag more carefully and thoughtfully. We always tip them at least 10 pesos. The second kind of service you will need (even though you wonder why you never needed it before) is the man who picks you up in the parking lot, pushes your cart to your car, unloads your groceries into the car and then navigates you out of your parking space and on your way. We must admit to feeling put upon by these (mostly older) men sometimes. But we pay 5 pesos usually for being waited upon as if feminism had never happened. And in all fairness, these men need to earn a living and there are probably plenty of people that love having their groceries carried out and unloaded for them. We find it rather unnecessary most of the time, but when we’ve done a lot of shopping at Costco or bought large and unwieldy items, those men do come in handy.

Big Chain Stores That Are Not WalMart

The bulk-item chains here are Costco and Sams Club. Sams Club is on Prolongación de Paseo Montejo, on the left before you get to Gran Plaza. Costco is on Avenida Tecnológico, which is Calle 60, only more north. They are both pretty easy to find. And once you are inside, you have to pinch yourself to remember you are in Mexico. A lot of things are missing that would be in Costco or Sams Club in the States, but they come pretty close.

Moo!
Wal Mart and Costco are the only stores that have fresh milk. Sometimes we are able to buy milk from the traveling milk man who drives a little cart that goes “Moo!” (photo at right). His milk is fresh and pasteurized, produced by a local hacienda south of Merida. It used to be that Wal Mart and Mega were the only places that regularly carry organic boxed milk, but Superama at least also does now too, and now we can’t always find it at Mega. WalMart and Superama have a growing contingent of organic fruit and vegetables. Wal Mart, Superama and Mega have the cat food our cats like (Friskies canned salmon), but Mega now carries it more often than not and has the special cut of meat (complete with marrow bone) that we buy for our dogs, URL and Mali. In fact, we asked for bones so often, Mega now usually has them packaged and on the shelf. Mega has butter from New Zealand and Denmark, and has even started to carry balsamic vinegar and English Breakfast tea in their special foreign foods section. And just when you think you have it all figured out, our favorite place to buy steaks has become the Covi liquor store (it’s from Argentina… the steak, not the liquor store).

Farmer’s Markets

Do you miss those farmer’s markets back home? And organic produce? Aside from the local mercados, which are essentially always farmer’s markets, you might want to try the Slow Food Market, held on Saturdays on Avenida Reforma on the northwest corner of Avenida Colón. Here you will find vendors selling things like organic vegetables, honey, home-made Korean and Peruvian dishes, cupcakes, organically-raised chicken and fresh bread. This Saturday market has become very popular with many expatriates and locals alike, and has become a time to shop and visit with friends for many of us. The Slow Food Market is part of the global Slow Food movement and you can join the local Merida chapter to be a part of this increasingly-popular event. If you want to know more about it, call 999-913-8674 for more information in English or Spanish. If you are a fan of organic foodstuffs, you might also want to try the lovely (and tiny) natural foods store on the Prolongación de Paseo de Montejo (just south of the Office Depot corner) called Ya’axtal Eco-tienda y Café.

Got Milk? Uh… Not Really

Speaking of milk, when we first moved here, shopping for groceries at WalMart was strange in itself. WalMarts with groceries hadn’t come to our town yet. We got over that easily… but then there was the milk issue. Some of us drink milk every day… and every other time we went grocery shopping, there was no fresh milk at WalMart. No fresh milk! How can that be? Fresh milk at the grocery store is just… well, a given. Its like air or something. Years later, we still cannot count on fresh milk at WalMart, but now we have the milk man with the truck that goes “Moo!”, or we have boxed milk. Boxed milk has a slightly different taste, but it stays fresh a lot longer, we can buy it anywhere and those boxes fit in the refrigerator better. And frankly, now we’re used to boxed milk and don’t care as much about fresh milk. When in Rome…

Mayans apparently don’t get along well with milk, so milk is not a priority for them. But yogurt… that’s another story. Every grocery store in Merida sports an amazingly long and well-stocked yogurt aisle. Not a section, an entire aisle. There are more kinds of yogurt and liquid yogurt and yogurt flan and yogurt with granola and yogurt with nuts… you get the idea. Yogurt is big here. And while the yogurt in the grocery store isn’t appreciably different from yogurt in the grocery store back home (thank you, globalization), we’ve had delicious fresh homemade yogurt in restaurants around the Peninsula. One word of caution: if you like plain yogurt, check the ingredients. Most yogurt sold as “plain” here in Mexico has sugar in it.

Bakery Etiquette

In the bakery section of most grocery stores, there is a large selection of breads and pastries. All the offerings are laid out on open air shelves for maximum exposure. You, the shopper, are expected to go to the bakery’s central counter and pick up a large round silver platter and a pair of tongs. Balancing your plate in one hand while you push your cart around, you pick out the baked goods that you want and bring them back to the counter, where they are bagged and weighed and returned to you, ready to pay for at checkout. The variety of baked goods is quite astounding. WalMart, Chedraui, Soriana and Mega all have their own bakeries, so everything is fresh. They don’t seem to bake with preservatives here (that’s a good thing) so bread goes stale quickly. We’ve learned to buy just what we need for a few days.

Fruits and Vegetables

The same is true, by the way, of fruits and vegetables. (We have read that fresh fruits and veggies in supermarkets back home are for the most part “radiated for freshness” i.e. exposed to radiation so that they don’t rot as quickly. The jury is out on whether this is good for humans or not). Fruit and vegetables go bad faster here as well. Partly, we think it’s the climate. But even in the big grocery stores, we think they don’t “radiate for freshness” here. (2009 update… sadly or not, we aren’t sure, this isn’t as universally true anymore. Some fruits and veggies are looking just like the ones in the States and lasting just as long. The locally eaten and Mexican-grown ones, not so much.)

Fruits and vegetables in the mercados are actually available based on the season in which they are grown, just like in the “olden days” in the US. They don’t have mangos all year round… only when they are in season. But when they have them, they’re locally-grown and delicious!

The fruits and vegetables are increasingly fresh and available all year long in the grocery stores (unlike when we moved here). When we first moved here in 2001, we had a hard time finding good lettuce, and celery was sold by the stalk, but only occasionally. All that has changed now. There are bags of celery and choices of lettuce. The choice of chilis is astounding, as well as lots of veggies and herbs that you don’t find easily in the States (epazote, anyone?). WalMart and some of the other stores sell fresh fruit and vegetable juice in the mornings (it’s fresh, and it’s usually sold out by noon). The meat is mostly good, and the pork and chicken are delicious here. There’s a wide variety of good fresh fish and shellfish. And as we mentioned, we can get Argentinian beef, which really does taste better than any other kind. We’ve found the pork chops are the best at Costco, but we prefer the steaks from Mega. Your mileage may vary.

Ordering Meat and Other Details

By the way, if you find yourself wanting sliced turkey or ham, you’ll probably have to go to the meat counter and order it. The packages of pre-sliced meats are not plentiful in any of these stores (although Costco is starting to carry quite a selection). When you order your meat, you have to tell them how much you want in kilos. Un cuarto is a quarter of a kilo, un medio is a half. We’ve found that two people have a hard time eating through un medio of sliced meat before it goes bad. You can also buy tocino (bacon) this way, though pre-sliced bacon packages are easier to find. We generally prefer the San Rafael brand (silly us… because it is more expensive we think perhaps it might be better) and we generally stay away from the FUD brand, because we think it’s a very silly name for meat.

Usually there is only one brand (maybe two) of cat or dog food at a given supermarket. There is a slightly bigger selection of pet food at the pet shops and at your vet’s office. Organic foods are starting to show up more at WalMart and Mega and Superama. Until recently, really good bread was practically impossible to find. We tolerated Bimbo’s Mulitgrano (multi-grain) and still like it for sandwiches. Some of the stores have fresh-baked french and sourdough baguettes, though ‘sourdough’ seems more of an suggestion than a reality. And on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, Costco has four different kinds of whole-grain baguettes (pumpernickel raisin, whole grain, etc), as well as a La Brea bread, all of which are truly delicious. For great local fresh-baked bread, you must try Monique’s Bakery. Her breads are all fresh-baked, organic and totally wonderful… and she definitely bakes sourdough bread. The emails she sends out every week are literary gems most of the time too! (email Monique at moniqueduval [at] aol [dot] com)

Shopping Styles

Beyond the contents of the stores, there are differences in the “style” of grocery shopping in Merida compared to the States. The reason the balancing act in the bakery department doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people is that no self-respecting Meridano would dream of going grocery shopping alone. Families shop together, turning the chore into an event. Saturdays seem especially targeted for this activity. Most expats we know avoid Saturday afternoon shopping because they don’t seem to like crowds as much as the locals. It’s a definite cultural difference. We often run into friends and acquaintances on Sunday mornings, which is a quiet time to shop because most of the gente decente are in church.

In the States, most of the ‘behind the scenes’ work of stocking shelves and pricing in grocery stores is done in the middle of the night. You rarely see that sort of activity when you are grocery shopping during waking hours. Not so in Mexico. In Mexico, the stores don’t stay open 24 hours a day. The ONLY thing that is open 24 hours a day are some farmacias (pharmacies) and the little convenience stores, like 7-11 and OXXO. So the aisles of every grocery store chain are often crowded with employees, pallets and boxes. They don’t seem to think that shoppers should have the right of way, either. Ask us, go ahead, if we find this incredibly annoying. No, on second thought, don’t ask.

Often sharing that crowded aisle are food company representatives anxious to stick something in your mouth. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes there will be a little table set up in every aisle, with a lovely young woman handing out little cookies or tiny cups of yogurt. On a good day, someone is handing out tiny cups of vodka. This from a State that won’t sell you liquor before 11 AM, after 9 PM, on Sundays and on voting days. And, as we discovered when Wilma was bashing Cancun, if a hurricane is anywhere in the neighborhood.

Easier Every Day

We have found it is getting easier to find almost anything in the grocery stores here. When we first moved here, the tea selection was limited to menta (mint), manzanilla (chamomile), canela (cinnamon) and negra (black… but no self-respecting tea drinker would bother). Now we have English Breakfast and Prince of Wales and Chai, but still not the same incredible selection we are used to in the States. The all-important Pop Tarts (the product, not the metaphor) came along about 2003, and then mysteriously disappeared. Now you can get them at Costco, sometimes. Real maple syrup is only available at Costco, and only sometimes. We don’t do frozen dinners or frozen foods much anymore. What would be the point? Most locals agree, so consequently the selection is small. The only American brand of ice cream is Haagen Dazs and they must hide diamonds in it because it costs a fortune. (Though we admit, sometimes it’s worth it…)

(Haven’t found a diamond yet though…)

Grocery shopping is a microcosm of the world we live in, wherever that happens to be. Mexican grocery stores are catching up with American grocery stores by leaps and bounds, while not replacing the traditional mercados. The worst thing about grocery shopping in Merida is those darned employees crowding the aisles (don’t ask!). The best thing is the incredible range of choices from the downtown traditional mercado to Mega… y tanto mas!


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152 Responses to “Grocery Shopping in Merida”

  1. Wow– this is piece is exhaustive in the level of detail provided!… was this piece by chance fueled by more than a couple of Pop Tarts (the product, and therefore the metaphor)? Truly, a tour de force of shopping advice for Merida newcomers, and highly entertaining to those of us already here. Gracias.

  2. Great entry. These discriptions of the nitty gritty of daily life really convey a feel for what it is like to live there. Here’s a question for you…we are advised to avoid eating raw, unpeeled fruits and vegables in Mexico. How do residents deal with this? It is not sufficient to wash with tap water, is it?

  3. Hola, KAT! Como te va en Oaxaca? Tienes mucho diversion en los lugares de scattering? Nunca nos hemos estado alli (todavia). Gracias por tus comentarios.

    Joe, for the real poop on this issue, see our most recent post, called Montezuma’s Revenge, under the Yucatan Survivor topic. We wrote it with you in mind.

  4. Well, thanks for the info – although I must say it was nittier and grittier than I expected.

  5. I must say I enjoyed immensely your posts on tirix tá, which is the Mayan term for runny poop, and the groceries. If I could add my 2 cents, I would like to remind you of the fresh meat offerings that the Comercial Mexicana lays out each day, on a table, near(!) the refrigerated cases… Yum!

    I would be honored to have be on your link list!

    Saludos

  6. Did I just write have be? hmmm…

  7. Joe: Maybe next time we should soak our articles in Microdyne to remove the nits and grits.

    William: We just thought “have be” was a Yucatanism for the Mayan “ha beh”, which could be “loosely” translated as watery trail…

    On a completely similar subject, when we were driving around the Yucatan outback, we ran into a Mayan pueblito called Poop. Ever heard of it?

    A link to NotTheNews by El Maloso has been our honor to add to the link list. Now who the heck is William Lawson?

  8. Love your articles.

    One question which would help me:
    Can you tell me what I might spend on average
    for buying food each month ?

    Thanks

  9. Hi Steve,

    How much you spend on food depends on the kind of food you eat and the lifestyle you want. You can shop at the local mercados, spend less and eat like a local. Or you can go to any number of modern grocery stores and spend like a gringo. Or some combination of the two (our preferred method).

    You can eat every meal at a local restaurant or a cocina economica and still not spend more than $12 a day. Or you can go whole hog at a tourist or upscale restaurant and spend well over $120 for dinner.

    If you go the less expensive route, you will still be eating well. The food at cocina economicas is healthy, home made and fresh. Lunch at the cocina economica around the corner costs $25 pesos (a little more than $2 USD) and is often more than we can eat. For an extra $6 pesos, you can get a horchata or an ice cold Coca Cola. At the corner tendejon, Salvador’s wife makes great panuchos. They are $3 pesos each. Three of those with a little habanero sauce on top is a great lunch… or Yucatecan breakfast. Tacos at Wayan’e are $7 pesos each. Four of those are our usual lunch.

    A meal at Burger King is over $50 pesos. And it doesn’t taste good! That’s why we never eat at those places anymore.

    You get the idea.

    The nice thing about Merida is that you have a lot of choices. Hope this helps!

  10. I got a few laughs reading your article. I am Yucatecan and lived in California for 30 years. I truly miss the mercados of merida and the lifestyle of the city. Shopping in supermarkets in the US is a lonely task and most of the time a dreadful task we don’t look forward to. I love fresh food and cook everyday as fresh as possible. My husband (an american) loves my cooking and he used to live on frozen foods and pollo loco, now when I don’t feel like cooking, he would ask for at least a home made sandwich rather than going out to dinner. I cook half yucatecan, half mexican with the american ingredients. Find the calabacita frita con pork, delicious. My husband and I will be visiting in October. I will be showing off my hometown! I commute 110 miles each day, spend 2 gas tanks a week, hate the traffic, love my air conditioner, love the dry weather, Merida is too humid. However, I love Merida and I wish I could retire there! Yucatecans are very friendly and kind people. You don’t find friendly people in California. If you smile and say good morning to a stranger they look at you funny! there must be something wrong with you!
    Bomba!

  11. Hola, Leticia!
    It’s so funny that you say that shopping in the US is a lonely task. As gringos, we sort of expect it to be that… but of course we have noticed that the local Yucatecans turn grocery shopping into a family affair. Dare I say, even into a party!

    And about friendly people. When I moved to NYC in 1976, I was struck by how unfriendly people in NYC were compared to those from my hometown, Los Angeles. But the last few times I’ve gone home to California, I’ve noticed that people in California don’t smile and say hello anymore either. Of course, living in Mexico, I have become very accustomed to this. It seems downright RUDE now to pass someone on the street without saying “Buenos dias” or “Buenas tardes” and smiling. But if you do that in California, you can just see their little brains saying to themselves, “Do I know her? Why is she bothering me?”

    I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time in Merida showing your husband around!

  12. Your web site is great and has given us a lot of information and answers to some of the questions we had about retiring in Mexico which is our plan. One question which is still unanswered is approximately how much would be the monthly expense for food for a couple?(cooking at home), we have been told that with about $1000 – 1500 US a month we could cover normal household expenses, is this true? We would appreciate if someone could answer these questions. We are planning to visit Mexico before year end to look at some properties or a lot to build our home since the area of Yucatan appeals to us. Thanks!

  13. OK, OK!! We think it’s time to write something about the cost of living here. So we will take on that task… but keep in mind that it’s *very* subjective. We could easily eat here on $5 US a day and not go hungry. But we don’t, because we like our wine from California, our Parmesan from Italy and our beef from Argentina, etc. So, we’ll do our best. But please take it all with a grain of salt (or maybe, a pinch of salt, in the case of the beef from Argentina…) and understand that no matter how many assurances you get from other people, moving to another country is a risk… which is what makes it an adventure!

    In general, most things in Mexico are cheaper. But some things aren’t. And everything could change tomorrow (or rather, the day after you leave everything behind and move here). If you didn’t learn it in the 60′s, living in the Yucatan has a way of teaching you to “go with the flow”.

  14. Here is something that came to us because we have mentioned that WalMart carried organic food now:

    Wal-Mart Charged with Selling Nonorganic Food as Organic; Group Asks USDA to Fully Investigate Organic Product Misrepresentation

    CORNUCOPIA, Wisconsin – November 14 – The Cornucopia Institute, the nation’s most aggressive organic farming watchdog, has filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA asking them to investigate allegations of illegal “organic” food distribution by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Cornucopia has documented cases of nonorganic food products being sold as organic in Wal-Mart’s grocery departments.

    “We first noticed that Wal-Mart was using in-store signage to misidentify conventional, nonorganic food as organic in their upscale-market test store in Plano, Texas,” said Mark Kastel of The Cornucopia Institute. Subsequently, Cornucopia staff visited a number of other Wal-Mart stores in the Midwest and documented similar improprieties in both produce and dairy sections.

    Cornucopia notified Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott in a letter on Sept. 13, 2006, alerting the company to the problem and asking that it address and correct the situation on an immediate basis. But the same product misrepresentations were again observed weeks later at separate Wal-Mart stores. Fines of up to $10,000 per violation for proven incidents of organic food misrepresentation are provided for in federal organic regulations.

    Earlier this year, Wal-Mart announced a sweeping organic foods initiative and declared that they would greatly increase the number of organic offerings for sale in their stores — at dramatically lower prices than the competition. The move by the giant retailer has been under close scrutiny from members of the organic community.

    “This is disturbing and a serious problem,” Kastel said. “One can question whether Wal-Mart has the management and staff expertise necessary to fully understand organics and the marketing requirements essential to selling organic food. Given their size, market power, and market clout, this is very troubling.”

    A number of other organic food retailers throughout the country, including Whole Foods Markets and many of the nation’s member-owned grocery cooperatives, have gone to the effort to become certified organic in terms of the handling of their products and have invested heavily in staff training.

    This past September, The Cornucopia Institute also issued a white paper, “Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products — Market Expansion or Market Delusion?” The report accuses Wal-Mart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory-farms and Third World countries, such as China.

    For the full news release and more on the Wal-Mart legal complaint and white paper, visit http://www.cornucopia.org
    _____
    If they aren’t being honest about it in the US, chances are they aren’t in Mexico either. I think we can still be sure of the organic milk and a few other things, but perhaps the organic apples and other fruits and veggies are a little suspect now.

  15. Hi,
    Enjoyed all the info. We will be passing through Merida on the way to Telchec Puerto. (Our first time to visit this area) We were told that the best place to stock up on groceries for the week is the Walmart in Merida. Can you tell me what the address is and how late they are open.
    Thank you so much,
    Kris

  16. You ask a great question… so we’ve added the info into the article (above). In case you miss WalMart, there is now a Bodega Aurrera (not sure if this is the right spelling) in Progreso, right at the corner where you turn right to go to Telchac Puerto. This is a Mexican chain that is owned by WalMart. It is geared more to the Mexican pallet (probably doesn’t have as many US products) but would certainly have things like coffee, milk and other staples. You just might not find your particular brand of PopTarts there.

  17. I loved and can relate to the article but, somewhere, in your article, you should have mentioned that the grocery baggers work soly on tips (propina). This is valuable information for gringos to know before they hit the grocery stores.

  18. Thank you so much for mentioning that. We have amended the article with that information.

  19. I loved your article. My son and I go to Cancun almost every year. We love to go to one of the grocery stores downtown and loose our minds in the bakery. I swear they have the most wonderful bread, and it’s always hot,fresh from the oven. We cook most of our food while we are there. I’m looking forward to a trip to Merida soon. I’m starting to look at a retirement destination in Mexico. by the way how humid does it get in Merida?? Any breezes?? I’d be happy to send you some pop tarts!! Thanks for the great info!!

  20. Hola Cynthia,

    Best of luck finding your spot in Mexico.

    Yes it can be quite humid in Merida, but yes, there are those lovely afternoon rains and breezes from the Gulf. After living here several years, we’ve grown accustomed to the humidity and feel rather dry when we visit up north. For more on the weather here, read our article, called Hay Calor

  21. Here is my experience in grocery shopping in Merida. Working Yucateca’s favorite store is Chedraui in Plaza Americas. Cheaper ($$). Mega Balconies on Circuito Colonias…too expensive for this TexMex ($$$$). Since I worked for WalMart here in Texas for 13 years (1991-2003), I supported the WalMart in Merida and the WalMart owned Bodega Aurrera. That’s my experience. I also had to get use to the Metric system at the stores. lol

  22. Just to add. My wife, Working Yucateca, Ariadna (100% Yucateca) told me the small Mom & Pop stores are expensive. They are just for buying small snack foods. Oxxo is 1 of my favorite convenient stores. The 7-11 is not like the 7-11 here in the US. You can’t get different size coffee with all the variety of flavored creams like here. No slurpees. Working Gringos is right about eating habits, what you eat determines how much you spend on food. I told my wife. As a TexMex, I had an advantage over the average Anglo-Saxon gringos. I grew up with eating beans, rice, and tortillas. Granted, texmex beans are pintos, not black. Our tortillas are flour, not corn. Our rice is what some call Spannish rice. My mom being the anglo-saxon gringa, I grew up with Meat Loaf and mashed potatoes too. :-) Thanks to my wife. She helped me find the bargins at the grocery stores and the mercados. My appreciation to Working Gringos for their informative articles. Perhaps they may interview Working Yucateca. Knowing Ariadna, she’s too shy to do an interview. lol.

  23. I’ve been looking at this article for over 3 months – and knew something wasn’t quite right. It’s the milk cart! MY milkman has black “cow spots” painted on his cart. Makes it ever so much more believable when it goes “MOO!” You do know that the folks back home think we are about a half a bubble off plumb, don’t you? I don’t care. What do they know? They don’t even have a milkman with a cart that goes “MOO!”

  24. Hola, soy de Chetumal Q. Roo, pero actualmente estudio en la UADY, solo quiero decirles que su blog (pagina, diario, whatever) es muy interesante e incluso útil para cualquiera que no sea de Mérida.

    Saludos!

  25. Oh, well, i don’t know if you have good spanish, i just want to say that your blog it’s really interesting for the people that’s new in this city.

    Oh, I am really bad for writing in english =(

  26. Question: Does anyone have any information on a mega plaza being built, which is to be larger than Gran Plaza? Where is it going to be built? How large is it going to be. Will the Camions Urbanos go there from Merida? A friend of mine told me about it, but, do not know all the details.

  27. Just to add in this section for readers. Pan Dulces. There are many panderias in Centro. Yet, I found the way pan dulces that are made in Merida is diiferent from Mexican pan dulces made here in Texas. Even the taste is different. Don’t know if it’s the flour used or the baking process. Empanadas here in our Mexican stores have different fruit fillings. Not able to find these in the panderas in Centro. I did find fruit filled empanadas in the Bodega Aurrea. But, only Pina or pinapple filling. Mexican sweet bread here has a variety of fruit filled empanadas. Also, the Cakes that are baked for cumpleanos was a surprise to my tase buds. Tasted kind of watery or wet. No, not the moist texture cakes baked here in Texas. I mean a watery or wet texture. Ariadna says it is made with milk. Yet, the baking process is different. The Mexican food here in Texas is much different than Yucateco food. The taste and ingrediants. Some resturante and stores do have what we call TEXMEX or MEXICANO NORTEANO foods. Just wanted to add this bit of info. When you visit or live in another area of the world, never expect to find the exact foods you are use to back home. Even what is called Mexican Food may differ.

  28. I am wondering if anyone knows if you can buy bisquick or any such mix in Merida.. My father retired there.. and has been looking for some. Thank you.

  29. There doesn’t appear to be a date on this story, but i’m assuming it’s up to date. What is the cost of groceries in Merida compared to the US? Also is there anywhere I can go that gives an up to date monthly cost of living? I’ve looked everywhere and have been unable to find it. I’m talking about things like internet, utilities, food, restaurants, etc. Thanks for any help you can give.

  30. Hola, Casey…
    No, there’s nothing like that here…yet. We’re working on it, really we are. The real answer to your question, though, is that you can live as cheaply or as extravagantly as you want here. Like we said in the article, the best thing about this place is the incredible range of choices, which are growing all the time.

  31. And Victoria, if you dad is having a hard time finding Bisquick, suggest he look either at Costco, Superama or Walmart. Those are your best bets for those hard-to-find only-in-North-America kind of foods.

  32. Fantastic blog, very informative, well written and inspirational! Wondering, have you ever seen soy milk offered? We’re leaning toward vegan and know that may be difficult, but can’t wait to see the fresh fruits and vegetables and already love beans and rice! With any luck we will be moving to the Merida area from Minnesota, and are eagerly awaiting the new adventure!

    Thank you Working Gringos!

  33. Hola, Mary…
    Yes, there is now plenty of soy milk offered here. It can sometimes be a challenge to find it without flavoring or sugar, but it exists. The Mayans are famously intolerant of cows milk, so we think that may have something to do with the rapid deployment of soy milk in these parts.
    On the other hand, almost every local dish involves meat of some sort. There are a few vegetarians here, but it isn’t easy.

  34. great info, but can you tell me where these stores are; addresses or blocks, or do we just drive around looking for them?

  35. Allen, here are a few tips. WalMart is across the street from the Fiesta Americana on Paseo Montejo and Avenida Colon. There are Chedraui’s everywhere… at least four that I can think of. The big MEGA store is on Calle 60 where it intersects with Avenida Itzaes. And Superama is on Paseo Montejo Prolongacion, north of the Centro. Yes, a map will be good and we’re working on one for you…

  36. Fresh milk? In Oct. 2007, we saw fresh milk available in the several OXXO convenience stores we stopped at. And the milk was good (though not organic)!
    PopTarts? Hey, you deserve WalMart! I just wish OXXO would expand to outside of Merida within the Yucatan.

  37. Thank you so much for this! As an insulin diabetic taking my first trip to Mexico, the question of how and where I would find the groceries I need to keep my special and sometimes rather narrow diet in line was such a worry. You’ve solved the mystery of how to deal with this in Merida and for that, truly, I thank you.
    Anxiety free,
    Shandra

  38. Diabetes is a pretty common disease in the Yucatan (unfortunately), so we think you will not have any trouble finding the supplies you need. Every grocery store we’ve been in has a “diet” section which includes a lot of products with sugar-substitutes.

  39. Hello,

    Thank you for such an entertaining yet very educational piece! My husband and I had quite a few laughs, and we got answers to most of our shopping related questions. As we will be relocating to Merida from the States in a few weeks, we wanted to offer to bring you a couple boxes of Pop Tarts. If you are interested, please let us know within a week or so (today is January 1, 2008).

    Lana

  40. Seriously? For months, years we could actually find Pop Tarts here. Now they have disappeared again. Well, sometimes they get strawberry ones at Costco, but…

    Let’s just say, if a box of brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts showed up on our doorstep, we would probably let it in.

    :-)

    Thanks for the offer… have a safe trip down here.

    -Working Gringos

  41. Hi!
    As part of my husband’s job we are being transfered to Merida in March from Acapulco. My husband is English, I am Israeli and we have to girls ages 4 and 2.
    Your web site is great. I still have so many questions though (typical…) Are there any Montessori schools, afternoon activities for children and are there any expatriate families with small kids?
    Thanks a lot,
    Vered

  42. Hello Working Gringos,

    You are very welcome! It will be a pleasure to bring you a box of brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts. Don’t be shy to let us know if you want something else. Our movers are scheduled to come on January 22. We’ll be travelling at the end of that week. How can we get in touch with you once we arrive to Merida?

    Lana

  43. Just call Yucatan Living at 999-928-0747. We wish you a safe and uneventful move, though the “uneventful” part is highly unlikely!

  44. Love the article, love the website.

    I think that you have the streets mis labeled on our Walwart image.

    I think the street that comes in at an angle is Avenida Cupules, Avenida Colon hits the same traffic circle an a 90% angle to the Paseo de Montejo. So I think you have labeled Ave. Cupules and Ave. Colon.

  45. Sorry, I should have said “I think you have labeled Ave. Cupules as Ave. Colon.”

  46. I would like to know if they carry pillsbury bisquits or heavy cream or cool whip in cosco or sam’s club in merida mexico

  47. I love this web site and blog. I just want to share a tiny bit of how things are the same and different.

    The moo moo carts are a hoot and I look forward to buying milk from them. Somewhere on my computer I have a picture of me buying goat’s milk from a little lady on the street in Cotacachi, Ecuador. I paid $1.00 for a tiny cup of milk that was milked for me as soon as I handed the lady the dollar. It was warm and foamy!

    Grocery shopping is always a priority for me and, like one of the other responders here, I worked for a grocery company in Texas – H.E. B out of San Antonio, a huge competitor of Wal-Mart. In Cotacachi, Ecuador, we had a fabulous mercado that was bustling on Sunday with fabulous organic fruits and vegetables from the area. Roses at a couple of dollars a dozen was a necessity ever week.

    In order to get “normal” groceries, including milk in a box or cold milk in a strange little bag, we had to take the bus for 35 cents each way or a taxi- a whopping $25 round trip to go to the next town where there was a Super Maxi.

    Merida sounds like a breeze to shop in and I look forward to trying all of the shops, big and small.

    I do have one question – Can one simply swipe an American ATM at Walmart and get cash back?

    Thanks,

    Jimmie

  48. The last time I was in a Wal-Mart in Mexico I could not find any instant rice (minute rice). What about can goods like soup? I could not find any. I hope to be going to Merida for the winter. I also had a hard time finding breakfast cereal. I live on frozen food here in the US. Could not find any in Mexico.

  49. Hi Bill,
    Last time we looked there was minute rice here. Also Campbell’s Soup, though in many different flavors than you are used to (Chile Poblano, Elote, etc.) And there are aisles of breakfast cereal….seems they have most of the favorites, as well as kinds of granola and other healthier things. You live on frozen food? You probably do that because it is convenient. When you are here, you will find a lot of freshly cooked, homecooked food that is very convenient at cocina economicas…. we predict you might break the frozen food habit. If you don’t however, there are more frozen food choices at Costco.

  50. By the way, in answer to Jimmie’s previous question, you can use your ATM at WalMart, and yes, they will give you cash back.

  51. Thank you Working Gringos for that reply. And Jammie I lived in San Antonio for many years. However, I was never able to use a ATM machine in Mexico. I have a Visa & a MasterCard but the machines just would not take them. I never did try using it a Wal-mart. One of the biggest problems I had in Mexico was getting money. In fact I had to come back home because of it.

    I have been thinking of getting an American Express card, but I can’t get anyone at AE to answer any of my questions about the card. All they seem to have is sales people who only know how to sign you up.

  52. An AmEx card is great for charging at deluxe places, but a Visa, MasterCard or one of their affiliated debit cards through a bank is more widely accepted. Just a credit card without a bank account (checking or savings) usually charges an enormous rate for a Cash Advance. So, a debit card at an ATM is — today — one of the easiest ways to get money at a fairly decent exchange rate.

    An old friend who has since moved back to the US from Merida, once told me that some people’s stomachs are frequently upset by the change in minerals in the water and food in new places — that it wasn’t always bacteria. And, that lots of rest was one of the best preventatives. Interesting advice. There’s often more to life than meets the eye.

  53. Thanks for the reply. Yes I have heard about the enormous rate at the bank for a cash advance. However My MasterCard & Visa do not work in any ATM’s I tried in Mexico . I was thinking about using the American Express card at their offices which are all over Mexico and Central America as a way of getting cash or travelers checks. But no one at AE can tell me if you can do that with one of their cards. Nor can they tell me how you can pay your bill from Mexico. They will not take a Visa or MasterCard at any of their offices.

  54. AmEx does not regularly dispense a cash advance. If you have an AmEx card – and a check from your US Bank Account, they will cash your check for you. In an Emergency – if your wallet is lost or stolen, they will give you an Emergency Cash Advance, but it is not cheap.

    An AmEx account can be paid from Mexico via the Internet.

    If your MasterCard and/or Visa’s are also Debit Cards and they do not work, perhaps you need to request that your issuing bank — where the Debit is applied — “open” the account/card for International use. Many US banks “lock” the accounts so they will not function overseas, in case a card is lost or stolen.

    (most of the above is from personal experience, but things can and do change)

  55. Thank you for that reply CasiYucateco. Can you use your Visa or MasterCard to pay your American Express card from Mexico via the internet? They could not tell me this at AE. Also I have heard that it can be a bad idea to use your credit card at a internet cafe in Mexico. Is this true?

    I hate to spend the money on a laptop but for security reasons it might be the only way to go. I was more or less thinking not so much of a cash advance from AE, but buying travelers checks with their card at one of their offices. But they could not tell me if you could do that or not. Nor could they tell me if their were any charges to do so.

    I will check with my bank to see if my cards are set up to be used in Mexico. Thanks again.

  56. Hello – really enjoy your website and all the advice however, I am desperately trying to find out what kinds of dog food I can find in Progreso or Merida. We are driving to Progreso from Canada in January ’09 and staying for 3 months in Chixulub. Our 13 year old cocker is on a special diet that we purchase from our local vet. I understand we will not be able to bring his Medi-Cal dog food across the US border or the Mexico border. Can anyone please provide some information. This will be our first trip to the Yucatan and we are really looking forward to it. Thanks for any info you can provide.

  57. Ginny,
    There are many kinds of dog food available here, but not as many as in the US and Canada. We suggest you try calling a local vet to ask about what might work for your dog that is here (we don’t think Medi-Cal is here). The two vets at Planned Pethood both speak English. You can find their contact information on this page:
    http://www.yucatanliving.com/yl-our-sponsors.php
    Ask for Tony or Nelson.
    Good luck!

  58. Bill, Buying travelers checks is considered the same as a cash advance, since travelers checks represent cash.

    I pay American Express via the Internet (my own laptop). It is done through a link to my bank that I set up. You can do this yourself now, in the USA, via American Express’ website. If you can accomplish the bank account link in the USA, then you will have no problem paying your account from Mexico.

    Internet cafes are reputed to be full of viruses, etc. While it is probably fine to send a few Emails, I personally wouldn’t enter any bank account, credit card or other information in most of them. No important passwords, etc. You just cannot be sure what kind of security is in place.

    A laptop suited for Internet and Emails costs as little as $400 to $500 new. Or you could find a refurbished or used one for less. Watch the Best Buy, Circuit City, and other ads for a good sale in the US and just bring it down with you.

  59. Thanks so much for the information. I’ve e-mailed Planned Pethood and will look forward to a positive response from them. Muchos gracias! Ginny

  60. Thanks CasiYucateco for the reply. I was wondering if American Express charges an exorbitant rate for a cash advance? The last time I was in Mexico I tried to get a cash advance via my Master Card and they wanted 30%

  61. Hi, love the blog! I worked as a tour rep at a hotel in Yucalpeten (Fiesta Americana back then) on the marina back in – god, I’m aging myself – 1989. I used to sneak away on my day’s off and take the bus from Progreso into Merida and just walk and walk and shop and take horse drawn carriages around the city.

    I loved Merida and always tell people going to Cancun to try to get to Merida. But lately I’ve been looking into restoring a colonial downtown. It looks uber-inexpensive compared to the rest of the world.

    Is it hard to get a long term resident visa in Mexico?

    I’m a writer and read that you can get an FM3? Also, I own 2 passports – could I use one for 6 months – then leave the country and come back in for another 6 months on a separate passport? It’s just a thought… a desperate one!

  62. Hi all, my wife and I are currently travelling in the Yucatan (and really enjoying it), but unfortunately we can’t use our Australian ATM card down here. Does anyone know of a location in Merida that does cash advances on VISA? We’ve tried a few banks (HSBC, Bancomer, Banorte) and a couple of independent casas de cambio, without any luck so far. Would love to get some advice!

  63. One thing about shopping in Merida and I found this very funny, is that you can find a bunch of random stuff at the supermarket and I dont mean it in a Target kind of store, but in a way where you find motorcycles for sale at the cashier register. If you go to Chedraui there’s always a DJ by the meat department, also little senoritas offering samples of everything you can imagine (most of the time yogurts, you know how Yucatecans love our yogurt), sweet bread being marketed by life-sized characters from a soap opera, etc.
    and 30,984,039,430 people talking on the intercom.

    I hope soon we learn how to measure kilos and grams, that’s a headache!

  64. i don’t know who william lawson is but i did know a man named lawson williams and his brother meril williams who built a super market monopoly for several yrs . by cashing all cks and EVERY bag was carried out to your car always even in the rain… and this gimmick worked.. and the co. made a fortune… anyway i though this was well written and like your way with words… you have a great style… my wife has a 4.o journalism fresno state university … and we have written many articles for many papers and such on the central coast.. so i know good writing when i see it.. and all your articles are looking great.. keep up the good work… ow now i remember who lawson was.. he was the owner of williams brothers markets.. the best on the central coast it was sold out to vons.. that is not so good at all … anyway great writing.. love your style and you are very informative… gosh you make me want to look for land down there someday.. so yes its working… love the way you get back detailed info… and real info.. not sugarcoated… but down to earth and honest.. that is good writing.. report what happened .. on reviews.. not shamed up.. we both have done allot of reviews here on the central coast for lots of company’s and businesses .. no more papers though.. we wrote for 3 of them , anyway all your articles are great… very informative… ty.. anyway back to the slo..w life.. enjoying the air… have a good day.. j

  65. Dear Friends, it is great to know that many Americans are in Merida. We will have lots of friends to meet with! I would be interested to have the full address of an Employment Agency for Managers and of Chamber of Trade in Merida. Any other suggestion will be welcome. My husband is a top manager and does not want to stop working. We would like to know which possibilities there are around. We are Italians; my husband would be happy to be an independent consultant. Hhe is a Commercial manager or should I say Trade Manager. Maybe a company which sells in Europe might need him. We speak English, Italian, French and Spanish. Thank you very very much!!

  66. Hey, what about the other Wal-Mart locations?, the Wal-Mart located at the new CityCenter has everything.

  67. I am afraid I did not understand the message of Joaquin. Thank you anyway.

    The question is: which is the best Head Hunter in Merida? Which are the companies in contact with Europe which need a Commercial Trade Manager?

    thank you very much for any kind suggestion.

    love marcella

  68. Marcella, we don’t know of any headhunters in Merida, to tell you the truth. Though there must be some. The truth is it is VERY difficult to get a job here… Mexico is very protective of its jobs and tries to fill them with Mexicans. Most expats seem to start their own businesses, which Mexico heartily supports.
    We think to find out what companies here need Commercial Trade Managers, you will have to do some intense research. Might we suggest starting perhaps with the Customs Agents?
    Good luck!

  69. Hi, I am waiting for the ferry to start up again. I heard they are working on it. Just as soon as the maiden voyage is announced, we will be on it. It is scheduled to run 2x’s a week from Tampa, Fl. to Progresso. It is an overnighter with all the amenities of a cruise ship. I need to move to a warm climate as I have scleroderma. Tell me a bit about health care. I plan to take the ferry twice a year back and forth. I will take about 6 months worth of my medication with me and then come back for my next supply and a stamp on my passport. I am a retired senior and in my 70′s. The ferry does auto transporting. As a first timer, will I need to bring a car or can I ride public transportation and how do I get to Merida from Progresso. What can I expect from the medical community. I will get my checkups in the U.S. But in the event of an emergency, what should I expect from the medical community. I know my medicare will not be recognized there. Can I buy Mexican health Insurance or is it cheap enough to pay out of pocket. Also what can I expect to pay to rent an apartment or house per month. Thank you, Dolores

  70. Dorothy,
    This recent Yucatan Living article should answer your questions about health care and insurance here in Yucatan:

    http://www.yucatanliving.com/yucatan-survivor/insurance-for-expat-life-in-yucatan.htm

    And please don’t just wait for the ferry. They have been “working on it” for about five years now…

  71. Could someone check if walmart has a toy called orbit balls I need them for a project as many as possible Thanks Bob

  72. Buenas tardes working gringo! i’m from merida but i live in nj for the last 20 years. I was a chef at La Tratto and Panchos in Merida. I have a culinary question for you. I need to get Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, have you seen it around, maybe at sam’s club? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Another question. I’m married to an American citizen and i have two daughters that i would like to register as a Mexican citizens. What do i need, do you guys know?………thanks Jose

  73. I loved the article, (but I wouldn’t go anywhere to find pop tarts), and was disappointed not to find any prices. can anyone tell me what it may cost to rent someplace for a month; I want to come down to the area in the spring and check out housing, etc.
    Thanks.

  74. Barbara,
    You will find prices on food and housing in our Cost of Living article here:

    http://www.yucatanliving.com/yucatan-survivor/the-cost-of-living-in-merida-yucatan.htm

  75. Jose,
    We actually DON’T know what you have to do to register your daughters as Mexican citizens, but we understand that it is a fairly simple process. We recommend that you call the Mexican Consulate in New York (or anywhere) and ask them. We’re pretty sure they will be able to help you.
    As for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, we don’t have any info on that either… but we’ll look for it now!

  76. Hi, I’ve reading some articles in the past half hour, and i have to say, I really really like it , it’s another point of view of our Mérida, I must say, I was born here, and I have lived here my entire life, I really liked the way you describe things that I (as a local person) haven’t even realize, and I’m so used to those things. Well, great job, my dear Working Gringo, you’re doing awesome, but not only helping another English-speaking people, also helping native people to realize the wonders of our city.
    By the way, this guy, the one who “navigates you out of your parking space and on your way”, that’s the world-known as the “viene viene” (in english it would be something as “come come” probably, I don’t know) because that’s what they say when you’re coming out your parking space “viene, viene, quebrandose quebrandose”

  77. I loved your article. We were in Playa de Carmen in Dec 2008…we loved it. We are planning a trip in Dec this year. We are staying in Merida for few days and then it’s off to Playa again.

  78. I have tried to find out where I can buy art supplies in Merida before I arrive so that I won’t have to carry all the stuff from the US. I’m not having any luck online with finding anything other than sites for artist’s work. Have any ideas?

  79. Ellen, you’ll find that most local businesses in the Yucatan do NOT have websites. There are art supply stores here, but they don’t have the large selection that you may be used to. For instances, good paintbrushes are hard to find here. Paints are limited to a few manufacturers, mostly from China and other countries (NOT the US). What are you looking for in particular?

  80. I really enjoyed your article. We are coming to Merida in December and will be staying in Chicxulub for 3 weeks. This is our 1st (of hopefully many) to this area. We usually go to Cancun once a year. We are planning to get our basics in Merida when we arrive but what can you tell me about buying groceries and liquor in Chicxulub? Should we buy everything in Merida before going to the rental in Chicxulub? Also, we have never had problems getting cash from ATM’s in Cancun, so I assume we won’t have problems in Chicxulub (or are there any banks?).

  81. On the way to Chicxulub, just as you enter Progreso, there is a Bodega Aurrera. At least for the first night, you should get your cash and groceries there. There are ATM;s in Progreso (and at the Bodega Aurrera) but no, we’re pretty sure there are no ATM’s in Chicxulub. The whole area is VERY different from Cancun…

  82. Do you have a map you can email me that shows Walmart, Costco, Holiday Inn and the Airport? Please send to morrison [dot] family [at] comcast [dot] net

  83. Is walmart across street from Holiday Inn also?

  84. Yes, it is catty-corner to it.

  85. “We cringe as we shop there, hating ourselves for supporting the cheap-labor exploiting, local culture destroying, domineering corporate monster that WalMart is.”

    You are soooo California snobby elitist.

  86. On picking a check-out line at the store:
    Do not necessarily avoid the lines with the most people. Often there are six members each of several families in the lines. Count the carts instead.

  87. Wow Kantil that was unnecessary and mean spirited.

    Thanks for all the detailed info and updates, VERY informative and appreciated.

  88. I agree with Butterlove, Kantil was mean spirited in the comment.

    I cringe when I go into a WalMart here, as it is having the same effect in the United States. I don’t view it as a good thing, but as one which abuses its’ workers, trades with China and supports a Communist nation and destroys jobs here and in Mexico, and one which has far too much power and influence, wherever it is.

    All of us have to care about those issues in the States and in Mexico.

    I agree iwth Beryl about counting the carts…we see the same thing here. Shopping for some families is a multi-generational thing and the shopperd often have several people with them.

  89. items i would like to find….but haven’ t yet….
    1. tea. and i mean TEA, not teabags…..where???? anybody with a suggestion?
    2. now the second item i couldnt find, and even though probably most people will laugh their head off , is ordinary taco mix bags…:!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    yes, i am ashamed, I use them…..and i cannot find them here….anywhere! i KNOW its a tex-mex thing and I shouldnt expect it in Yucatan, but nevertheless, i would appreciate if ANYBODY could tell me where to look for this item, so I don’ t have to put my friends through the awkward situation of showing taco mix bags at the airport to laughing immigration officers (it has happened…..already )!
    thanks for the good tips about bread….I HATE bimbo bread and I am longing for rye bread the Northern European style
    fabio

  90. My name is Love and I’m a single parent looking for a change in life, a better life for me and my son. I read an article about living in Merida Yucatan, it sounds like a place I would like to live. I want to know are there any jobs as an American I could get in Merida or a city close by to make a living. I also have dogs can I transfer them with me? My son is only 13yrs. old and needs to go to school can he continue his education there? There’s so much for me to consider,I’m planning on taking a trip there around april to see if this move is right for us. Please anyone that has any suggestions for me please respond. I want to move and have a change in life for the better. THANK YOU
    Love

  91. Merida is a lovely place to live, but it is difficult (not impossible) to move to a new city without some financial resources to work off of while you get acclimated and find your place. Merida is a large city, but not necessarily the best place for an American to find work. Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the leading tourist destinations on the Peninsula, might have more opportunities. We suggest you contact the owner of this website for ideas in those areas: http://www.cancuncanuck.com/. However, Merida is a better and more peaceful place to raise a child. We suggest that you contact the people at Yucatan Expatriate Services (YES) who might be able to help you look for employment here (www.yucatanexpatriateservices.com or info [at] yucatanyes [dot] com). You can transfer dogs with an international health certificate that you get from any veteranarian. There are very good schools here, some of which are bilingual. At 13 years old, he will probably learn Spanish quickly once he starts immersing himself in the school environment.
    We suggest that you meet with the YES people when you come in April… they could probably show you some schools, etc. while you are here.

  92. Has anyone heard what is going on with the ferry that is going to leave from Tampa to Progreso? I would love to travel on it when I go.

  93. I am a 59 year old man who is somewhat disabled. I am on Oxygen 24-7 and can only walk short distances. Is there a place to get Oxygen there? My brother and I are thinking of coming down there this summer and driving there. Thank you for any advice.

  94. I would also like to know about a ferry service. And please, to make the search process easier, could you date your articles? I’ve tried on numerous occasions to find things I read about here, but the Search function is no help, and having knowledge of approximately when I read it doesn’t help either without a date. Lastly, does anyone know who might be growing or selling lemons? Or Cream of chicken soup?

    Thanks.

  95. What web site do I go to for a good job? i have my GED AND MY MEDICAL DIPLOMA. I also like working with children…..I want to move out there in 6 mnths, but not until i find a good job. I’m coming from San Francisco California. I have two boys, so I need a place that will allow children. Thank you and God bless.

  96. Thank you for this great information. We will be in Chixculub for the month of March 2010 and would appreciate any information on purchasing red wine in Progreso-Aurrera.
    Cheers,Carole

  97. Ferry service… there is none yet. They’ve been talking about it for years, but for now, it’s not happening.

    We don’t date the articles… instead we update them as often as possible to be accurate. You can get an idea of when they were written by looking at the dates on the comments.

    What were you searching on exactly? We’d like to know so we can help optimize the site…

    There are lemons here… often they are the small, round ones. They grow here. The large, lemony-shaped lemons seem to be seasonally available at CostCo and other stores.

    Cream of chicken soup? We don’t know about that….

  98. Jasmine,

    You don’t say what kind of medical degree, but what we are about to say pertains to almost any kind of medical profession. It is VERY difficult to find a normal, paying job as a gringo here in Mexico. Those jobs go to Mexicans, and they pay a lot less than you would be accustomed to.
    The good news is that there are many places to rent that accept children… Mexicans love families and children and that is rarely a problem.
    We suggest you contact the good people at Yucatan Expatriate Services and see if they can help you with your employment situation. You can find them at http://www.yucatanyes.com

    Good luck!

  99. Good afternnon and thanks again for your wonderful web page. My husband Dale and I are here for our annual Merida “fix”. Renting a home – Casa de la Rana y el Durazno” – Calle 48 between 55 and 57, in the Mejorada .

    We have spent most of this day trying to locate a store to buy a coffe grinder! Not at Walmart, a restaurant supply house across from Olive, Chedraui. Any suggestions? The blender is doing a poor job!

    Deborah Hamilton

  100. Deborah, there is a restaurant supply store on Paseo Montejo, roughly across the street from Scotiabank. They have everything from capuccino machines to, we’re pretty sure, coffee grinders.

  101. Thanks, but we checked that as well and “nada”.

    Liverpools had a Krups for $100US!!!. No way! We will bring a $10US one the next time we come.

    On another note:
    1. We zipped down to Campeche for an overnight trip. Lovely what has been done with the historic center, but the town still doesn’t hold a candle to Merida. It was nice, however, to see a few small hills.

    2. Do you still have your book for sale?

    Thanks again for the fabulous web page!

    DSH

  102. Working Gringos, is there any possible way we can email you and ask you specific questions?
    me and my dad are about to move to Merida.

  103. We can always be reached at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com

  104. THANK YOU YOUR A SWEET PERSON…..I MEANT FOR MEDICAL ASSISTING GENERAL MEDICINE,,,,WORKING FOR PEDIACTRIC’S FRONT OR BACK OFFICE OR GENERAL…..IF NOT AVAILABLE I ALSO DO CAREGIVIN TO THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED…..IF NOT I CAN WORK FOR A DAY CARE TOOO….. I LOVE CHILDREN I HAVE 4….. THANK’S AND GOD BLESS YOU…..

  105. So much very useful information, thank you. I will soon be living in Merida for about 6 months prior to my wife joining me and am looking for the Mexican equivalent to ‘Trader Joe’ in the US. They are great for catering for the single person, I think the pigs head in the local market may present a few problems for me. Many thanks for any advice and by the way I will not have a car and would like to rent a studio apartment close to a park (for my small dog) and within walking distance to grocery shops, is there an area you recommend?

  106. Tony, as far as we know, there is no Trader Joe’s here… but we’ll be first in line if someone starts one!

    As for neighborhoods, we suggest you read this article which might give you some ideas: http://www.yucatanliving.com/destinations/the-neighborhoods-of-merida.htm. We have a little house ($650 a month plus utilities) that you might consider renting in the Santa Ana district of Merida, three blocks from Santa Ana park. It’s a perfect place for a couple with a small dog. If you are interested, email us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com.

  107. Cream of Chicken soup (Campbells) – Walmart. They also have Cream of Chicken with Mushroom. ATMs at Walmart accept debit cards from Canada/USA. The charge is Cdn$5 plus a nominal fee depending on the card – maybe Cdn$0.50 at some Walmarts – nothing. Anybody who likes nice fluffy rice can get Basmati rice at Superama – definitely not the artificial Unlce Ben’s.

  108. Hi :) well I just happen to be in this page for accident, but I see its very interesting xD

    I was born here in Mérida Yucatán, and so it is pretty fun to see how the foreigners see my born place. I used to love pop tarts when I was a kid (like…1995) but suddenly there were no more pop tarts! D: since 1999 (I guess) costco stopped bringing them. And I remember the first time I entered Costco, it was such a experience! such a big place with a lot of unknown things, the lights, the movies, all the boxed things… the salami!! oh gosh, since then salami is a tradition in my family, every week or so we go there to buy it, since it’s the only place we can find it.
    Yeah, there are a lot of things I love of the modernization, the new cinemas (when I was a kid there was only a decent one), the food, the malls, but also I’m a afraid of losing our culture, since the world seems to become an American world. The United states are invading latin-america, with their culture and their customes. Many places are just two-faces, the rich part with an american style, and the poor part that keeps little of its traditions just to survive in this new world.
    I’m happy that here in Yucatan we still look to conservate our traditions, to promote the maya lenguage, to teach the dance “jarana”, to visit the local markets and remember that we, as Yucatan people, are full of tradition, life and culture. The mayas left but we still hace their legacy. This land, the land of maya (that originally meant “ilussion” since the mayas thought this life was an ilussion), is alive and the magic remains.

  109. I just got back from Merida a few weeks ago. I really had a tough time finding breakfast cereal. Oh yes, several stores like Wal-mart had a lot of it. But it was all loaded with sugar which I can’t eat. Are their any health food stores in Merida? I found two in the centro area but no cereal with out sugar. Anyone know where you can find some?

  110. Ah, yes… Mexicans do like their sugar! We have two suggestions: look in the department that sells products for diabetics (Mega has one, right next to the health food department to the right towards the back as you walk in… we’re sure the other stores have one too).

    Also, you might try the Saturday morning SLOW Food Market… find the times and directions in this Events listing, under Saturday.

    http://www.yucatanliving.com/events/merida-events-fiesta-time.htm

  111. What I miss more than anything is organic (and crisp) leafy green lettuce. I find it sometimes but it always looks wilted and sad. And kale. I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. Any suggestions for either of the above?

  112. Hola Gringa,
    Does Covi liquor still sell beef from Argentina? Where are they located?

  113. Hola, Nancy… Covi does still sell frozen beef from Argentina, I believe, but not at all their stores. The one where we would buy it was on Prolongación de Paseo Montejo, on the east side of the street, across from La Tratto.

    Superama also sells Argentinian beef now too.

  114. Also, for organic lettuce, most of us are getting that these days at Costco, in the cold room at the back.

  115. Have things improved in regards to being able to get “pop tarts” and other American and North American products in the shops in Merida? Also, are there video rental stores where English movies without dubbing or subtitles available?

    Additionally, are Chinese ingredients in the way of sauces and spices available in the area, as well?

  116. Good information in this article. Good to know about where to find real maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. My big question is this, I will be living in Progreso and Merida as of August/September this year and need to know if you found any “real health food stores” where I can buy a variety of supplements like we have here in Canada and the US? I would be keen to find a place that also sells organic foods, breads, milk (so I can make my own kiefer) or buy organic yogurt without any sugar. I suspect Walmart carries some supplements, but they don’t have the variety like the health food stores have here. I wanted to avoid having to order my various supplements on line or go to Miami every 3 months and stock up. I guess I could look into switching to homeopath, as I’ve heard there is at least one in Merida that is over 100 years old. Any news about this?

    Thanks
    Corrine Gogal

  117. Hola, Corrine… as for health food stores, no, there are not health food stores like we are used to in the USA and Canada. We do have a growing community of people holding a SLOW foods market with organic foods and other goodies every Saturday morning. Great whole grain and other yummy breads there. Monique, the breadmaker, also makes kiefer. Organic yogurt? no. But there is one brand without sugar (only one, out of THOUSANDS) in the markets. Every grocery store has a small (growing?) organic section nowadays, and there is one organic label of foodstuffs that comes out of Mexico. But you’ll probably want to stock up on those organic supplements in Miami (Houston is closer). Yes, there are homeopathic doctors here… homeopathy is more commonplace here, in our experience. Hope that helps. Suffice it to say that you don’t move to Merida for the organic food opportunities…

  118. Thank you for the details, spent the winter in Progreso and returning in January. Your article helped to prepare us to understand the difference from shopping in the US. Be sure to use the local corner stores and if they don’t have it, ask and they will get it for you if possible. Also in the local bakeries or stores go in and order what you want for a specific date or occasion. You will not believe the quality and amount of what you will get for the price. We found they truly cater to their customers. Also we found we only bought food for a maximum of three or four days to keep it fresh. Just could not bring ourselves to freeze fresh food and there is no need to. So you really get to know your grocer. As far as the workers in the aisles, you can ask them what is new coming in, or if they have that item you cannot find. Again, we find they really try to please their customer.

  119. Great article, and comments as well!! Having worked in various health food stores over the years before becoming a registered Nutritionist, I am especially interested in the sourcing of foodstuffs and ingredients in Mérida, Valladolid and the area… if the expat community indeed grows as expected, when I relocate myself, I would seriously consider opening a health food store, even possibly a Wholefoods branch, focusing on and encouraging local small enterprises!!! *cogs a-spinnin’ *

  120. Hy! I just found your Website and hope you can help me . I have a hard time finding Flax seed oil in liquid form.G N C have it sometimes. Would you know of other Stores who would carry this product? thank you Gerda

  121. Hi guys,
    Thanks for the great info. I have been living in Merida for a few months, and I have been looking everywhere for Frank’s Redhot Sauce. I noticed someone else asked about it a while back, but I haven’t seen any responses yet. I know that Costco in Cancun had it in a gallon size jug, and a couple of stores in Playa had it, so it might be worth a trip out there.
    I’ve looked in the Super Chedraui across from Gran Plaza, Superama, several Walmarts, and everywhere I could think of.

  122. I found Frank’s Redhot Sauce at Pascadeli! They are on Calle 56, between Calle 37 and 39. They also have basmati rice (the only place other than Superama that does), and lots of Thai, Chinese, and other goodies.

  123. We are from the East Coast (New York – Connecticut) area before retiring to Cozumel recently. The article about the grocery scenes is cracking me up. I can definitely relate to the grocery shopping experience. Living on the island here in Cozumel, I swear that what you can find on the shelves depend on what the boat brings in that day, or week! We quipped that the boat ‘did not came in’ when we cannot find something on the shelves that were there at one time. Counting this move to Cozumel, Mexico, I have been an expat 3x; so, all-in-all, I am taking in the cultural differences in stride, and am rather enjoying it!

    In Cozumel, we also have ‘supermercados’ such as Chadraui, Mega, Aurrera, and Sam’s (although the arrange of merchandize they carried is nothing like what I’ve some to expect from other Sam’s stores ). One of the things that struck me as amusing is this: while both Chadraui and Mega sell canned sodas, example, “Coke Zero”, Chadraui will stock and sold theirs as loose cans, while in Mega (which is just across the street), they’re selling theirs either in 6- or 8 packs (depending on the sizes of the cans).

    As a retiree with time now to enjoy cooking, I noticed that seasonings and ingredients are very limited. For example, I can find only one delicatessen (“Maharaja”) on the entire island that carries wonton/spring-roll skins. I thought I saw glutinous rice on the shelve in one of the stores (forgot which one, so I visited all of them)… but, nah, no luck. I am thinking about taking the ferry across to Playa Del Carmen and see what I can find there. So any information will be much appreciated if anyone knows of a store that carries Oriental ingredients. I see a lot of banana leaves in the vegetable aisle, but wonder whether Lotus leaves is something that’s thought of as only being sold in Mars?! Same thing with gluttonous rice. Is rice flour used in any Mexican cuisine?

    Oh, here’s another Mexican phenomenon that we’ve noticed: A lot of furnitures are sold in ‘a set’. Asked the shop-keeper or the attendant if a recliner, for example, can be purchased by itself, they will looked at you like you are trying playing a gringo trick to rip them off!

    Elsewhere in the blog, I believe I read somewhere in regard to the ‘cost-of-living’. While what one eats and ones lifestyle expectations are as personal as the shapes of individual snowflakes, let me throw in this info and see if it helps. In Cozumel, our house here is bigger than the house that we sold in the U.S. before our move. We just paid our annual property tax, US$87.00. Our comprehensive property and auto insurance for the year are about $780.00 and $650 respectively. Waste collections in the State costs us around US$21/mon. Here, we paid about US$14.00 for the entire year (and the conditions of the road upkeep shows it too!). Yet, we noticed that our trash is begin picked-up almost daily.

    Separately, my husband had a lesion on his forehead removed. Now, he had this lesion for quite a few years dating back to when we were still living in the US. But this time, it grew as a blood-mole and bled when he scratched it accidentally. My husband was examined by the doctor (who turned out to be the surgeon as well) — no appointment; had the growth removed by laser within the hour; medicine and subsequent followed-up… US$280.00 total.

    We both brought our medical histories with us. After reviewing our medical histories, our Doctor prescribed the equivalent medications to us. We noted that prescriptions here can be re-filled without the “3 times only” condition. While in the States, refills translate to a trip to the doctors office (a guaranteed income stream for sure to them), which did nothing but jacking up the costs of health care for me. Straight-up, we are not rich gringos and did not retired with a ‘golden parachute’; just your average Joes who worked hard; believed in living within one’s budget; understood that life is short, but that enjoying the fruits of our labor is still possible. We truly love it here.

    So, thank you again for your most enjoyable article.

  124. I am still new to the area, working through not having a car. Not speaking Spanish has made things difficult to locate. I have been to 2 of the large Walmarts in Merida, and i have been to a few other large chain stores in Merida. I am looking for two things: Greek yogurt and Grape Nuts cereal. It does not have to be the name brand cereal. I used to buy an off brand in the states but i cant find it here anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find these things?

  125. Recently arrived. I’m looking for a desk and chair. I am a writer and I’m looking for cheap and comfortable. Any help is appreciated.

  126. Bill, you should consider advertising what you are looking for on YoListo.com.

  127. Very extensive — but please update to include the Slow Food market on Saturdays on Reforma between Colón & Cupules. I literally buy most of my groceries for the week there. There is also a lovely (and tiny) natural foods store on the Prolongación de Paseo de Montejo called Ya’axtal Eco-tienda y Café (http://www.yaaxtal.com) that could use more publicity.

    - JP

  128. Your wish is our command! It is done…

  129. Thanks for the great article! I realize it is a few years old but still very relevant especially as we have just concluded our first “long” trip to the Yucutan and become home owners while we were there! I got some giggles, some information and then more information from this article. I am glad it is archived so that when we get back to our new home – I can refer to this article and thus my shopping in Merida will not be such an “adventure” every time! But those adventures are always fun! Thanks again!

  130. Actually, we just updated it so its not really that old :-)

  131. I read this article before I came here and have just read the update which made me laugh as you seem to have a lot of the same shopping habits as us. One of the posters above asked for Greek yogurt – they now have a Nestle Greek yogurt with honey and cereal in Chedraui Selecto which is delicious.

  132. I always marvel at the resistence of expats to let go of the past. Pop Tarts, better cuts of meats, etc, etc. Have we forgotten that we have decided to live in another country, and among people who cannot afford Pop Tarts??? Imitation is the best form of flattery! Let’s imitate our neighbors and live the way they live.

  133. We appreciate the sentiment, Ed. But if you have lived here awhile, you know that there are plenty of people in Merida who can afford PopTarts… and a lot more of them than you or I can. This is a varied culture with many layers, many types and classes of people. Which Meridanos are you going to imitate exactly?

  134. Ed, you are right on some counts, but it’s not just about “letting go of the past”. And of course there are quite a few middle and upper class Meridanos with the money to shop regularly at Walmart, spending 1,000s of pesos, and often on things they could buy more cheaply from the local mercados, but I guess they don’t care to.
    I myself hate shopping at Walmart and I never did it in the States, however in Mérida I’ve found myself needing to go there to buy my favorite brand of Italian pasta, a specific Italian wine I like, and a certain brand of Italian canned cherry tomatoes.
    There are cultures in this world that possess deep and strong culinary traditions, and mine—Italian, and Southern Italian in particular—is one of them. As much as I am willing to modify my diet and “translate” my recipes by adapting to local ingredients—and I’ve been doing it for the past 28 years of living away from Italy—I am not willing to abandon my old-time recipes altogether.
    Besides, many doctors in the Yucatan are now trying to tell the natives that their traditional dishes rely too much on animal protein and sugar and are too low on vegetables, and the high incidence of diabetes in the Yucatan is a well-known fact. Therefore “imitating” your neighbors should always be practiced with caution and critical sense, not blindly.

  135. You submit that WalMart is a better behaving company in Mexico. Uh, no way! Bribery is just the start of the illegal and immoral activity that WalMart engages in globally. Perhaps when this article was written one might be able to say what you did with little possibility of rebuttal, but EVERYONE now knows what WalMart is up to down here in Mexico. Puhleeeeze, no more WalMart justifications!

  136. Really helpful article! Thank-you so much

  137. Thanks for the helpful hints, the chuckles and the new info. We are leaving our home in Puerto Aventuras to spend a week in Merida and will be looking for the mercado and the cute little milk man. BTW we recently found a wonderful box milk (after refrigeration it tastes like REALmilk) that the local Gelato store uses. From Costco it is Santa Clara in the red box. Of course it is 30% butterfat, but once in a while, it hits the spot.

  138. Hi – I’ve been living in Merida almost one year now. And I do have a Costco card although I have not used it yet. Just too busy to get there, I guess. But, I did wish to ask where can I get the very best prices on milk, bread and eggs? We eat a large amount of this stuff and I find more than a little money is being spent. And lastly, Mexican brand butter tastes weird to me. Is there anywhere I can get butter from Europe or America at a decent price? Last time I bought real butter from Walmart it cost about $7.00 USD.

  139. I am in Merida right now on a fact finding trip. Hopefully to move here soon. I have been to all the grocery stores you mentioned except Costco. Food all seems pretty much the same here as in Houston TX. Not much frozen meals as you said, but I can live without that stuff. I especially like Eggo waffles and they seem to be in most of the stores. Now, if I could find a realtor to call me back I would be so happy!

  140. Cheri… bienvenido a Merida! Who have you tried calling? We can get someone to call you back probably… email us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com

  141. Which store would you say has more organic foods? Walmart or Superama? Which has the most American food available? Will the fresh fruits and vegetables be safe for my 1 year old to eat? We are from Texas, and I have always been very careful to give him local and organic food.

  142. Erica, Superama is owned by Walmart and probably has more organic choices. The most “American” food? I think you will have to make that assessment for yourself. You can get local food in the mercados, much of it grown just outside of Merida. Whether it is organic or not… well, it just isn’t labeled that way in the mercado, so you are kind of on your own. The only way to be sure in Mexico is to grow it yourself probably :-) . There are no organic labeling laws that we know of, although we are willing to be corrected if someone knows differently!

  143. Erica, you might also check Chedraui Norte (across 60 from the Gran Plaza Mall), which has a lot of familiar brands from the US, including organic packaged foods, and has a different ownership from Superama & Walmart and so has a slightly different stock. For fresh organic food, there’s the Slow Foods market on Saturday mornings near the corner of 72/Reforma and Av. Colón in García Ginerés. It’s on the north side of a little strip mall, not visible from Colón. Your life will be simpler and easier if you develop a taste for local food, including the super-healthy chaya. If you like to eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, I’d recommend you peel them or treat them with one of the biocides available in the produce section of grocery stores.

  144. Can you recommend a store that would sell whole wheat flour?
    Thanks!

  145. We visited Mega in Cozumel last week. Have to say, we were very dissapointed. The bag broke before we walked out the store and broke a bottle of rum that we planned to take back with us. The cashier blamed it on us, but she was the one that pushed the bag to us after the bag boy finished placing the item in the bag. The manager was no help solving the matter. He took the cashier’s side, though he had not even been watching her from the start. I have been to Cozumel 7 times and visited Mega every time. Sad to say, I won’t return the next time I visit Cozumel due to their unfriendly staff and knowing the plastic bag didn’t support the bottle.

  146. Sorry for your loss, Mark. But if you have been to Cozumel that many times, you might know by now that things do not work in Mexico the same way they work in the United States and Canada. If you tripped and fell in a store, you couldn’t sue the store either. Mexico treats citizens and visitors as independent adults… you are responsible for looking out for yourself. The upside of this is that they don’t have courts full of unnecessary lawsuits. The downside is that if you buy it and it breaks, you have to buy another one.

  147. Joe, you might try the coffee store next to Platos Rotos (a cocina economica), which is behind the CFE office on the corner of Avenida Colon and Reforma (Calle 72). They have a lot of organic products… if they don’t have the flour, they might know who does.

  148. Helpful article, thanks. Wondering whether anyone knows whether any where in Playa or Cancun sells produce from California. My wife has an incredibly sensitive stomach and even some produce at high-end hotels causes havoc. We are wondering if we can just buy our own from CA, which hopefully has not been washed with local water.

  149. Not sure why all of you are so concerned with organic food in Mexico as organic foods have caused a lot of illness in the U. S. Locally raised and sold at the farmers markets and safely raised and sold at Costco or WalMart would seem to be more sensible. Treating any or all of it with bio dyne or other treatments would seem to be the most important.
    I was looking for limeade in the freezer section – it is probably right by your pop tarts!
    Anyone ever find frozen juice concentrates here?
    Also, thanks for your tip on tips. Shopped at the Mega yesterday and had just learned from you about that.

  150. Thank you for such a beautifully written and informative article regarding grocery shopping in Merida. As I will soon be moving to the city of Merida this has given me a jump start on what to expect.

  151. I am not worried about organic – least of my concerns eating produce in Mexico. I am just trying to find a place that sells produce not grown or washed with water that will get my us sick!

  152. Anthony, you can always wash the produce with lime juice or any of those products that are sold for this purpose.

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