YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and where did you move from and why did you move?
Paula: I moved to the Yucatan from New York City. Brooklyn to be exact, in August 2002. Why I moved here is still an unanswered question for me. I am, or was, one of those New Yorkers who just saw no reason to cross the Hudson. On a quick trip with my brother to Merida, I saw the error of my thinking. Lights began flashing, bells began ringing and the next thing I knew it was two days later and I had purchased a house.
YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?
Paula: I don’t really have an answer for that. The bells rang, the lights flashed and the force took over? Magic of the Yucatan?
YL: What did/do you plan to do after you move(d) here?
Paula: I wasn’t quite sure. A big consideration was to open an art gallery, which I did. However, it took almost one year to renovate and explore the art world here before opening the gallery.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here?
Paula: Yes, only on a larger scale than first anticipated.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?
Paula: I bought my house before I moved – before I really knew the city. My decision for me was right – visit a city for two days, buy a house, and move six months later. I never recommend that anyone ever be as compulsive as I was!
YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?
Paula: I absolutely love Merida. Now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else!
YL: Would you ever return to your former location?
Paula: I still love New York and would live nowhere else in the States. But to return to live permanently? Not in this lifetime.
YL: What are the most striking differences between living here vs. living where you lived before?
Paula: Peace, tranquility, quiet, and safety are several descriptive words that come to mind.
YL: What do you love about living here?
Paula: What do I love? What’s not to love?
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
Paula: A good cup of deli coffee, a bagel with a schmear and the Sunday Times.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here?
Paula: Fun. The people I interact with are wonderful. Even the government offices are pleasant to deal with (believe that!). Regulations and licensing is much less constricted and easier to deal with.
YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?
Paula: No, running the art gallery is sufficient.
YL: Do you work as much as you used to "back home" or are your work habits different here?
Paula: The amount of work is equivalent, but the tranquility of the work is much greater.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Paula: Lucky for us – we get to stay!
YL: How is your Spanish?
Paula: Not as good as it should be. I came with a smattering of New York “subway” Spanish, which turned out to be absolutely useless .
YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?
Paula: Not so far. A few words of Spanish go a long way particularly since almost everyone speaks some level of English. Shame on me for not being more fluent!
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?
Paula: Forget everything you think you know about real estate, construction and what else you may have read on the numerous websites about Yucatan because very little of it actually applies.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?
Paula: Not yet.
YL: If you aren't, do you think you will become one?
Paula: Yes, it’s a matter of one more year.
YL: Why would or wouldn't you?
Paula: I’m fortunate to be allowed to live here. To be a good citizen, you have to really be one.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
Paula: The people of Yucatan couldn’t be friendlier.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico?
Paula: It’s an emerging economy. The belief that you can do anything in the States is a reality here. The ability for me to open a successful art gallery in New York is out of the question. But here, I can and did.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Paula: To continue selling art and exporting outside the peninsula.
YL: Do you see your business growing?
Paula: My business has outgrown its current space. We have purchased another building and are in a transitional phase.
YL: Do you see yourself staying?
Paula: Yes, for a very long time.
YL: Any last words?
Paula: Every morning I awake and thank the forces that rule the universe for directing my path to paradise.
Paula Sievert owns Galeria Merida which is in the process of moving to its new home in the Mejorada district of Merida.