YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and where did you move from and why did you move?
Elayne: I moved from New Orleans, after 12 years living and working in the French Quarter. We bought our home last August in the same month as Hurricane Katrina, but earlier in the month. I suppose it may sound strange, but I had a really strong feeling it was time to leave New Orleans. And we feel very unhappy and uncomfortable with the current Administration and political climate in the US.
YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?
Elayne: This might sound a little odd too, but it seems like Merida chose us! We were talking about moving out of the US. I was researching possible locations in Mexico. Heading south sounded good because we like a hot climate, and we didn’t want to move too-too far away from the US. A friend’s brother has a house in Centro and one at the beach here, though he lives most of the year in California. When my friend heard I was researching moving to Mexico, she suggested I look into Merida. So, that was how I initially found the city (I’d never heard of it before). After many, many hours doing research on the Internet, I knew we were moving here—before we’d ever even visited. We found the house on our first day house hunting (I had seen it online)!
YL: What did/do you plan to do after you move(d) here?
Elayne: I planned to open a B & B & P (Bed and Breakfast and Piercing) venture, which I’m doing. And I planned to finish my book, which I’m also doing. And, I still have another business. It is a shop online and in New Orleans, called Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga; A Small Store for Dinky Dogs (www.chiwawagaga.com).
I have a business partner there who runs it in the French Quarter, and I work on the Internet from here.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here?
Elayne: Yep. See above.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?
Elayne: Yes, we bought right away, and we are very happy with our decision.
YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?
Elayne: WE LOVE IT! Couldn’t be happier!
YL: Would you ever return to your former location?
Elayne: I find it hard to imagine ever living anywhere in the US again after enjoying life here.
YL: What are the most striking differences between living here vs. living where you lived before?
Elayne: Hahaha. It is SO different it is almost like being on another planet! One of the most striking differences is the lower crime rate. New Orleans had become very scary. There is so much violent crime there. Another is the cost of living. The quality of life here is great for us. Also, we lived in the French Quarter and didn’t have any yard or outdoor space, except for a small balcony. Here we have a big yard and trees. There’s food growing out there that we can eat. It is amazing after all that city livin’!
YL: What do you love about living here?
Elayne: The people, the culture, the cuisine, the architecture, the sights—ruins, cenotes, haciendas, playas. And, of course, we love our home in the “country.”
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
Elayne: Some friends, but they’ll visit. And I miss good Thai and Indian food. But my favorite restaurants in New Orleans were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, so I didn’t have access there to that food any more.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here?
Elayne: Well, I haven’t formally opened yet. But I will be catering exclusively to my previous client base—the same folks who traveled in to see me and be pierced by me in New Orleans are the ones I’ll be piercing here. I won’t be “open to the public” per se, or have a studio like I used to. It will be pretty low key.
YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?
Elayne: I’m kind of semi-retired, really. I’m taking a lot more off time here than I did in New Orleans.
YL: Do you work as much as you used to "back home" or are your work habits different here?
Elayne: My work life is quite a bit different. I’m very relaxed here, and I have more free time and more leisure time.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Elayne: Well, there aren’t any tourists where we live in a small pueblito outside of Merida. Our area is not a tourist neighborhood at all.
YL: How is your Spanish?
Elayne: Considering I didn’t really speak any before I moved here, I feel very good about my progress. I’ve learned a LOT in a few months. I have a Spanish/English dictionary in my cell phone, and every spare minute I’m looking up words and learning as much as I can. We also have a housekeeper who is terrific, and she has been teaching me so much.
YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?
Elayne: Not usually. Every now and then I end up in a situation that is a little over my head, but not often. The resolution to that is to keep learning and become fluent. I’m not concerned about it, though occasionally I find myself in a somewhat frustrating situation.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?
Elayne: Three words: research, research, research! Make sure you know what you want and what you’re getting into.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?
YL: If you aren't, do you think you will become one?
Elayne: I don’t think so. I would need to learn more about it.
YL: Why would or wouldn't you?
Elayne: I still have family in the US, and I’m not sure how changing citizenship would affect my ability to travel freely back and forth.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
Elayne: We feel very welcome. The people here are lovely. It was the one thing I couldn’t research via Internet: how would the people react to us? My husband and I are both heavily tattooed and I have a lot of facial and ear piercings. Oh, and I’m a woman and I shave my head, too. Suffice it to say we stand out in a crowd. And, anywhere we go, people look at us. But here, when you smile, it is a doorway to friendship. The folks here have been very welcoming and kind to us.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico?
Elayne: For us, it is a great situation, though for someone who plans to come from the US and look for a job, I’m sure that would be an entirely different matter.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Elayne: To live happily ever after.
YL: Do you see your business growing?
Elayne: Not if I can help it. That is, after 12 years of running my own shop, and years of running someone else’s before that, I’m very much enjoying taking it a bit easier.
YL: Do you see yourself staying?
Elayne: Absolutely. We travel fairly regularly, but as far as LIVING goes, we plan to do that here!
YL: Any last words?
Elayne: If you intend to move here from elsewhere, plan on learning to speak Spanish. I’ve heard of expats expecting Mexicans to speak English, but, that isn’t the local language here...
Elayne runs Angel's B&B&P, what is probably the only B&B&P (Bed & Breakfast & Piercing) in the Yucatan.