YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and where did you move from and why did you move?
Ellyne: My husband is a Yucatecan. I started visiting in 1976. The “visiting” continued until 2004, when work on our Bed and Breakfast, Cascadas de Merida, was almost completed. We moved here in July, 2004.
YL: Why did you choose the city you live in over other places in the world?
Ellyne: My husband, Wilberth was born here.
YL: What did you plan to do after you moved here?
Ellyne: Operate Cascadas de Merida and live happily ever after…
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here?
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?
Ellyne: We rented while we were rebuilding. There was really no decision involved. This was home to my husband’s family for 6 generations.
YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?
Ellyne: All in all this was a good decision. I still visit the states, and of course friends and family. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. The latter really enjoy visiting us here. I find it easier to stay current if I want to. Our guests help to keep us in “the loop.”
YL: Would you ever return to your former location?
Ellyne: Only to visit. Nothing is life is written in stone, but we have no plans to return.
YL: What are the most striking differences between living here vs. living where you lived before?
Ellyne: I miss big shade trees, front yards and the four seasons. But Merida offers a less pressured life style. Pedestrians don’t seem to have the right of way. This city should make it easy to walk, but doesn’t. There is much more trash in the streets than NYC. There is more beuracracy here than the states, and a finess to dealing with it. Diet coke is more expensive. Too few people are empowered to make decisions in stores and government . We watch less TV and visit each other more. We take time to swing in our hammocks, and one of my favorite striking differences is our long leisurely lunches, even when we’re working. We notice that our guests at Cascadas de Merida begin their vacation with every hour planned. They adapt so quickly to a more relaxing version of life, that they often “scrap” whole days of their plans – opting to just “hang out”.
YL: What do you love about living here?
Ellyne: Friendly people, smiling children. People here take the time to offer help, directions and pleasantries. Merida has enough of everything to maintain a decent quality of life. I use the library, listen to classical music and enjoy the arts. These activities are important to me. I also love the ability to make new friends. My prior lifestyle was cocoon-like. I insulated myself with my “group and interests”. Here I try new things and meet new people. I love shopping in our local open air market, and being able to go to CostCo or Sam’s to get US products. I also like being the “go to guy”. I make new friends just by answering questions. After thirty years I’ve gotten pretty familiar with Merida, though it has grown fivefold since my first visit.
YL: What do you miss from your “former life”?
Ellyne: I miss my job and my students. I miss understanding all the conversations I took part in. I miss my son and my friends.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here?
Ellyne: My husband and I loved planning and building Cascadas de Merida together and it’s been years since we were able to work together. Running it together assures us that we will never run out of conversation or dreams of the future. It’s keeping us young. Even though there are challenges to get a business going here, I don’t know if it is more difficult than the states.
YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?
Ellyne: As a family, yes, we supplement our income here. But we did more than one thing in the states.
YL: Do you work as much as you used to “back home” or are your work habits different here?
Ellyne: We work less, and feel less pressured.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Ellyne: I’m not sure it’s much different at all, other that tourists don’t make enough use of siesta time, and are out in the heat of the day. It seems to me that so many tourists feel so at home in Merida that they investigate moving to Merida. Many of our guests have bought houses or are returning to look.
YL: How is your Spanish?
Ellyne: Good. I speak it well, though I don’t write it well.
YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?
Ellyne: No, though at times I get confused or “turn off”. I am delighted to be able to speak English often.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?
Ellyne: Don’t move here because you think it’s a lot cheaper. Living here is less expensive, but by no means cheap. Come here because you want to combine a new “flavor” with your traditional diet. Remember you are a guest in Mexico. Respect for Mexicans is essential.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?
YL: If you aren’t, do you think you will become one?
Ellyne: Not sure.
YL: Why would or wouldn’t you?
Ellyne: Pros: My son and husband are Mexicans, so it’s not as difficult for me. I can own more, and not have to do as much paperwork. Inheritance is easier and less “taxing” if I was a Mexican. Cons: I’m not sure if there are any, but I am proud to be an American.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico?
Ellyne: Better than ever. A new government can change that, but I’m pretty positive.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Ellyne: This is my home. I think about new projects daily, but I am less pressured to act on them. It’ll mean that I’ll miss some opportunities, but I won’t act rashly, and I have the time to think things though!
YL: Do you see your business growing?
YL: Do you see yourself staying?
YL: Any last words?
Ellyne: Merida is not a place to be idle. The heat offers opportunity for lots of “down” time, but we welcome folks who don’t dwell on the past, don’t live for gossip, and do try to make themselves at home here.
Ellyne and her husband, who is known to all of us as “Chucho”, own Cascadas de Merida, a bed & breakfast where each shower looks out onto a stone wall with its own flowing waterfall! It’s unique in Merida… and so are they!