Interviews / Sharon Helgason Email & Share

Sharon Helgason

Sharon Helgason

20 October 2015 Interviews 3

YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and from where did you move?

Sharon: I am an “oldie” having moved here in November 2000 from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

YL: Why did you move?

Sharon: Initially it was for the lovely climate but it has become much more.

YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?

Sharon: I chose to live at the beach because it is such a beautiful peaceful place. Living here, I am only 35 minutes from Merida where I can always go if I need a big city “fix”. The location is great for doing trips around the Yucatan Peninsula and other parts of Mexico.

YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?

Sharon: When I retired to Mexico it was with the idea of simplifying my life big time. For me, that meant not buying a house or vehicle but renting, walking and using local transportation. I believe I made the right choice!

YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here? If not, why not?

Sharon: No way am I doing now what I thought I would be doing. With a health care background I thought I might be able to open a store front clinic and provide preventative care to families in the area. What a wonderful dream that was but it quickly was put to rest.

That was impossible to achieve! I learned that my Spanish needed to be much better and I needed deeper pockets than I had, so I focused on learning the language.

What I am doing is very satisfying and continues to push me into many areas where I am constantly learning and every day becomes/is an adventure.

I began running the Chicxulub Food Bank in 2005 and what started as one idea has grown into so much more and responding to identified needs is exciting and challenging.

YL: What are the most interesting things about living here for you?

Sharon: Every day is an adventure! I always find myself saying “Just when I think I have it, I don’t.” To live and thrive here, I think one has to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things and constantly reassessing the decisions one has made, and constantly asking yourself, "is this still what I want?".

YL: What do you absolutely love about living here?

Sharon: I must say the climate is still the best. Waking up in paradise every day and being able to walk the beach is an incredible gift. But after the climate it is the people of the area, the rich customs and history of the area keep me looking for exciting places to explore, and with that I meet lovely people.

YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?

Sharon: Nothing

YL: What don’t you miss from your "former life"?

Sharon: Nothing

YL: What is your favorite local food?

Sharon: Shrimp ceviche, flautas and cochinita pibil.

YL: What is your favorite time of year here and why?

Sharon: I enjoy September to December when everything is quiet and Mother Nature is working her magic. In an area where the rainfall is so minimal it amazes me to see the beautiful trees, flowers, and shrubs that grow here. I love their cascades of colours.

YL: Where do you take guests who visit you here to show them something really special?

Sharon: There are so many places it really depends on what my friends want to do. There is so much to choose from and many areas of interest.

Last season I spent a lot of time at the wonderful Parque Cientifico in Sierra Papacal. It is an incredible place to visit with much to see.

If it is ruins, then I take them to Uxmal and the Caves of Loltun, with a side stop at the Pickled Onion where the food and hospitality is great. For tranquility and beauty, I'll go to Xtambo. The eco sites I love are the mangroves and El Corchito. The food is always good at Sol y Mar in Progreso and Merida has such an array of food you can never be bored.

YL: The last time you went out to dinner, where did you go and why?

Sharon: At Mamma Mias Pizzaria in Chicxulub. I was there for a number of reasons: Ciro makes good food, it is the place where the Chicxulub Food Bank works out of when distributing the monthly despensas and I wanted to show a group of interested people where the film El Mar was filmed in the Chicxulub area in 1977.

YL: Do you have friends from the local community or do you pretty much hang with the expat crowd?

Sharon: When I moved here, it was my intent to become as assimilated as possible with the community and so I have lots of friends in the local community. I also spend time with many expats while they are here in the winter. If you want to learn the language and become a part of the community, then you must participate in the local community.

YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here? How is it different from doing the same thing in your country of origin?

Sharon: I know when I began the Food Bank it was relatively straight forward. I would never have been able to do the things I am doing while living in Canada.

YL: Do you find it more or less difficult to make a living here than in your country of origin?

Sharon: Not an issue for me.

YL: Are your work habits different here?

Sharon: No, my habits are a part of me, no matter where I am.

YL: Did you speak Spanish when you moved here? Where did you learn Spanish (if you did)? Is the language barrier a problem for you in your daily life?

Sharon: I thought I knew Spanish when I arrived but was quickly disabused of this belief. I had taken lessons in Canada in preparation for the Pan Am Games and not using it on a daily basis so those lessons didn't help much. The barrier becomes less and less, the longer I am here, thank heavens! As I said earlier…just when I think I have it, I don’t. My friends are great at helping me out.

YL: Are you a Mexican citizen? Do you plan to become one?

Sharon: I have my residente permanente and am happy with it.

YL: Have you traveled much within Mexico? If so, where and what has been your favorite location to visit? What did you see there that you liked so much?

Sharon: I have traveled a lot in Mexico and have to say my favourite place is Mexico City, with its rich history and lovely architecture. I like travelling around but it still feels good to come home to Chicxulub.

YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?

Sharon: I am very fortunate to have many Mexican friends and am treated quite nicely. I find people treat you as you treat them.

YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico? Of the Yucatan?

Sharon: I don’t feel I am in a position to comment on this topic.

YL: What are some changes you are hoping for in the city in which you live? Do you see any progress towards these changes?

Sharon: I would like to see a successful garbage service and better control of the animals, along with a solid tourism plan. Unfortunately these three issues are difficult to resolve and other than the animal shelters and clinics, little has changed in the time I have lived here.

YL: What are your plans for the future here?

Sharon: More of the same.

YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone buying property and/or planning a move to the Yucatan?

Sharon: Visit, visit and visit some more. Research the area and know what you are wanting here.

YL: If you could say something to all the people of Mexico, what would you say?

Sharon: Thank you for allowing me to live in your beautiful country and teaching me your history and customs.

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Comments

  • Terry Barbert 1 year ago

    My wife and I are very proud to count Sharon as one of our best friends, lovely lady and helped us so much when we first moved to Chixculub. Unfortunately after 5 years of wonderful living we made a very bad decision to move out to Spain and have regretted it ever since. Sharon bless you and keep up the good work, looking forward to seeing you again when we get back. Love to you. xx Terry n Maureen

  • John Green 1 year ago

    Sharon is a very special lady doing a worthwhile job in Chicululub.
    She is a pleasure to work with.

    John Green
    Orangeville Ontario Canada

  • Barbara Shumeley 2 years ago

    Sharon is a nursing colleague and friend and I commend her moving to a new country and embracing all that her new "home" community has to offer. We have had the pleasure to visit Sharon several times and remain amazed at how involved and supportive she is with local residents as well as many "snowbirds". Her vision for the Food Bank continues to blossom and she engages volunteers with her quiet but passionate commitment to assist her community. We extend our sincere congratulations and will continue to offer our support from our home in Winnipeg. Barb and Avi Shumeley

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