YL: When did you move to the Yucatan, where did you move from and why
did you move here?
Chris: I arrived in Merida on October 1, 2005, after about a year of considerations.
I moved from the Elma, Washington area where I lived amidst 30 acres lying along the East bank of the Stasop River, where I settled 30 years ago during my back-to-the-land hippie days.
I left my home as, out of the blue, I was presented with an offer to buy my home and acreage at a price I couldn’t refuse, at a time I was feeling a need for a change in my life.
I chose to leave the U. S. as I was fed up with its McDonald hamburger, gotta have it right now culture and cookie cutter commercialism. Additionally, I am disgusted with the might-makes-right approach of the U. S. government toward the rest of the world.
YL: Why did you choose the city you live in over other places in the world?
Chris: I chose Merida as it is not in the U. S.; I like Mexico; melons, tomatoes and other warm weather crops may be grown here; I had read that Merida is muy tranquilla; it is near to and geographically similar to Western Cuba, which I like very much; I can drive here from the U. S. with what few possessions I have retained should I choose to stay; and it is an easy flight from Merida to the U. S. should I ever choose to go back for a visit.
YL: What did you plan to do after you moved here?
Chris: I planned to learn to speak Spanish better, explore the Yucatan, and decide if I might want to live here. I also planned to research and chronicle a century and a half of U. S. misdeeds in Latin America. Other than that I’m trying to not make plans.
As for fantasies, I have entertained a number. One, which is a complete clich?, was to operate an inn on a tropical shore. Another, which a very good friend consistently pooh poohs, was to carry tourists around the Yucatan in a Ural motorcycle with sidecar.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here?
Chris: Yes. My Spanish is getting better and I am doing a bit of exploring.
I have promised myself to live here for at least one year before deciding if I wish to stay, so that I may experience the weather year around.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the
Chris: I am renting an apartment from a most wonderful landlord. I am very fortunate as I had made arrangements for the apartment over the Internet last August, sight unseen and with no idea of its location in the city.
My landlord offered to pick me up at the airport, an offer I gratefully accepted; and has been very good to me since. My apartment is conveniently located within walking distance of the Santa Ana market, Chedraui (YL: a local grocery store chain), and almost everything I need or want; and the other folks living in the 4 unit complex are great.
YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?
Chris: I like it a lot
YL: Would you ever return to your former location?
Chris: No. I have no desire to ever again live in the U. S. Though it is possible that I may decide in the future to live somewhere other than the Yucatan.
I sold or gave away just about everything I owned in the U. S. and am now doing my best to keep all options open.
YL: What are the most striking differences between living here vs. living where you lived before?
Chris: Other than the obvious differences, I don’t feel as though I’m living in a nanny state; and after having lived for 30 years on a fairly large chunk of acreage in a very rural area I now live in an apartment in the middle of a large city.
YL: What do you love about living here?
Chris: I love the fact I can grow vegetables in the “Winter” months, I love that one hears music just about everywhere, I love that almost everyone is in business, I love that if I trip on the sidewalk and hurt myself it’s nobody’s fault but my own, I love walking the teeming sidewalks in the central market area, I love the honesty of the folks here, I love that I can conveniently walk almost anywhere I need to go, I love the safety of the City, I love riding the buses, I love that shops are located in every neighborhood, and much, much more.
YL: What do you miss from your “former life”?
Chris: I can’t think of a thing.
YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?
Chris: I’m in the fortunate position of not having to make a living.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Chris: Residents and tourists have such different purposes in being here that I don’t really know how to answer the question.
The residents aren’t herded around by tour guides as it seems are most tourists that come here and tourists are generally found in one small area of the City.
YL: How is your Spanish?
Chris: Mejor y mejor.
YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?
Chris: I arrived here speaking Spanish well enough to get by so there hasn’t been a significant barrier. Generally when I’m not sure how to say what I want in Spanish, I begin by asking for forgiveness for my poor Spanish. Almost everyone assures me that it is not a problem.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?
Chris: I would only presume to give advice to those from the U. S. and it would be to always remember that you are a visitor here. Consequently treat all Yucatecos with absolute respect, happily wait your turn, and if you’re one of the many arrogant, “ugly Americans,” stay home.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?
YL: If you aren’t, do you think you will become one?
Chris: I don’t know.
YL: Why would or wouldn’t you?
Chris: I would to make it a bit easier to come and go and to enjoy the other benefits citizenship affords.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans?
Chris: I am treated well. I believe, as the Beatles put it in one of their songs, that “the love that you get is equal to the love that you give”, or something to that effect.
YL: Do you feel resented or welcome?
Chris: I feel welcome.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Chris: For the coming 8 months, or so, I will apply for an FM 3 visa, continue improving my Spanish, continue to explore the Yucatan, and decide if I want to make it my home.
Other than that I have no plans. I’m trying my best to not make plans.
YL: Do you see yourself staying?
Chris: At this point I do. But I’m sticking to my promise to myself to live here for a year before deciding whether to stay.
YL: You can follow Chris’ adventures in Yucatan by visiting his blog at Ruminations of an Expatriate. Yucatan Living will be bringing you more expatriate interviews in the future. We welcome your comments and any other questions that you have for the people living in the Yucatan.