You Know You’re Acclimating to Merida When….

by Beryl Gorbman

  • The chorus of birds you hear in the morning becomes more interesting as you begin to identify the distinct birdcalls.
  • When walking outdoors, you automatically cross to the shady side of the street.
  • You are no longer intimidated by the visa renewal process at Immigration.
  • When you visit your city of origin, you sometimes get lost.
  • You get angry when you see foreign tourists throwing garbage downtown.
  • You order home delivery from Messina’s pizza. And you like it.
  • You barely glance at iguanas of geckos in your yard.
  • You can walk through the “fresh” fish section of the mercado without gagging.
  • You can distinguish which vendors are passing by on your street from their sounds. The mechanized ”moo” for the dairy guy, the flute tune from the knifegrinder, the calls of “paletas” or “naranjas dulces.”
  • You start feeding the feral cats, or better yet, adopt one.
  • You know that ceiling fans have a right way and a wrong way.
  • You know the name and chisme about the Governor of Yucatan.
  • You learn to take naps.
  • You no longer dash out to see every parade and celebration in the city.
  • You actually buy dirt from the guys with the mules and flat carts.
  • You know your neighbors.
  • You don’t say no when a guest asks to smoke in your home.
  • You don’t go out of your way to avoid glorietas. (traffic circles)
  • You know where to join the line on Sunday morning to for the best cochinita.
  • You can pay your real estate taxes and fidecomiso without a lawyer.
  • You have a Mexican driver’s license.
  • When the electricity fails, you open your door, look at the neighbors who have also opened their doors, and join them in a shrug. Oh, well.
  • You know the names of at least six types of peppers.
  • You learn the beauty, entertainment value, and art of gossip.
  • You, as a man, will realize you will never have to wear another necktie.
  • You, as a woman, are thrilled to know you will never again have to wear nylons. (Remember nylons?)
  • You are comfortable sleeping in a hammock.
  • El Diario is delivered to your door.
  • Your favorite event at Carnaval is the children’s parade.
  • You become less compulsive about the perfection of the walls in your house.
  •  You aren’t ashamed to ride in a calesa, even by yourself.
  • You give money to old women begging without considering whether or not they really have fat bank accounts.
  • You integrate the soul-stanching effort to be polite at all times, no matter what. (I’m not there yet.)
  • You are chilly in temperatures below 75 F.

Know some more?

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
This entry was posted in Merida Expat Life, Writing Projects. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to You Know You’re Acclimating to Merida When….

  1. Alinde says:

    “You learn the beauty, entertainment value, and art of gossip.” Really?!

    Here I take exception. I must admit, I’m not familiar with any Mayan influence here. However, as a person brought up a Catholic, I am fairly certain that any “art” of gossip is not a sign of acclimation to the Catholic side of the culture. Gossip is a sin in the Catholic Church, and there is even a distinction as to whether it is a mortal sin or a venial sin. But I am pretty sure, as well, that the gringos here have perfected it. It’s probably a result of themselves feeling isolated, and hence at times, petty.

    Who knows! But I don’t see this as a Mexican custom to which one is acclimated or not.

  2. jonna says:

    It’s too late at night for me to think of more but I can relate to all of those.

    A couple exceptions. I don’t buy the dirt from the dirt guys because it isn’t good dirt, I’m a dirt snob. I don’t always give to the women begging either but not because of their supposed bank accounts, I’m just from San Francisco and I don’t like giving to beggers. I do it sometimes but I’ve decided that it will be a whim kind of thing, not a customary thing.

    It’s a good list. Have you really ridden in a calesa alone? That has never occurred to me as something to do.

  3. Debi says:

    I’m actually surprised in that I do or can relate to most of these, although I still say No to smoking in my house. My fav Carnaval parade is the Regional, although I do go to the kid parade.

    And ike Jonna, I don’t buy dirt fom the horse cart guys, and I don’t give money to vendors…

    other than that, I’m home!

  4. Hugo De Naranja says:

    You really know you’re acculturating when:

    * You view the lurid full-color photos of narco-violence, traffic accidents, and village mayhem in “Por Esto” as merely of forensic interest.

    * You can swear effectively and fluently in both Yucatec Maya and Lebanese.

    * You’ve given names to the geckos living in various rooms in your home and, more importantly, the geckos respond when called by name.

    * When you talk with friends in Mexico City, they overly explain their references to popular culture and current events as if you were living in North Korea.

    * You can spot the high-speed erratic driving of a Campechano at a distance of 1.5kms.

    * When talking with Mexican friends living outside the peninsula, you find yourself overly explaining your references to local culture and politics as if you were living in North Korea.

    * When visiting parts of Mexico that are 500 or more feet above sea level, you grow nostalgic for those times in your life when you got out of the shower and weren’t immediately covered in thick, syrupy sweat.

    * You no longer regard as “quaint” those meticulous diaries kept by Victorian-era British housewives who lived for decades in the Empire’s tropical possessions, but see these diaries as chock-full of practical tips and advice for day-to-day living.

    * You finally grasp that, in this part of the world, any question beginning with “why” is necessarily beside the point.

    * You knowingly and willfully and sincerely accept the fact that there is a very good reason why “tropical medicine” (or, increasingly, “Geographic Medicine,” and even “Third World Medicine”) is universally recognized as a valid and worthwhile discipline.

    * You discover that your most satisfying bedtime reading consists of the fiction and non-fiction of Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul that most directly addresses the themes of post-colonial dislocation, alienation, foreboding, ennui, nihilism, anxiety, and dread.

    * You understand, for once and for all, that ice cubes are not a native handicraft.

  5. suk says:

    Do y think Walter needs Mexico drive license?

  6. LG says:

    I know I am acclimating as I listen to the bells of Santa Ana church and know what signals they impart to the faithful. And when Ican recognize the various styles of bell ringer. Like the gecko watcher, I have given them all names.

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