Editorial / The Dark Side of Yucatan

The Dark Side of Yucatan

The Dark Side of Yucatan

19 May 2007 People & Interviews 39

At the insistence of some of our more pragmatic readers, we've been working on an editorial we were going to call, "The Dark Side of Yucatan". We thought it might offer some balance to our Merida Moments article. But the truth is, we've given up. We just can't think of any useful and original negative observations.

Many others have written about conditions in Mexico that they find unpleasant. It seems there are whole websites devoted to the subject, and the major media certainly seems fond of reporting bad news about this country. Their list of criticisms ranges from the ridiculous to the profound, including: loud music, crazy drivers, lazy or careless workers, crime, poverty, trash in the streets, poor treatment of animals, unemployment, drug wars, corrupt govenment and abusive law enforcement.

The list of complaints is as long as you want to make it.

But upon reflection, it seems to us that everything "wrong" with Mexico can be observed to some degree in almost every country. We've witnessed some pretty wretched examples in the United States. In fact, Mexico's problems have been stereotyped for so long that people from Gringolandia tend to overlook many of the things we've come to appreciate about our adopted home, the things we do write about.

After living here for several years, we've concluded that much of the "mess" in Mexico - the inconvenience and disorganization - is simply a symptom of liberty, something that far too many "developed countries" seem ever more willing to sacrifice so that their "trains run on time". Comfort, convenience and security are awfully nice, but we prefer free expression, healthy struggle and frequent visits from the unexpected.

Apart from Mexico, Yucatan does have its own special problems, like the vestiges of a caste system that tend to isolate various groups and hinder social change, but this subject is very political, and there are better people than us addressing it.

We have written about many of the challenges of living in Yucatan, including the heat and humidity, Moctezuma's Revenge, insects, the language barrier, stray dogs and city traffic, but we try to approach these subjects in a way that is useful to potential expatriates, not as reporters trying to sell papers.

Most of the items on our unpublished "Dark Side" list are about growing pains. The indigenous Maya, the working-class Yucatecos and the casta divina are all enduring swift changes brought about by the accelerating invasion of the modern world. Meanwhile, retired expatriates are experiencing consternation as younger (and wealthier) gringos move in. It's seldom easy to accept or appreciate change, especially in a place with a history like Yucatan's. Not all of the changes that modernity brings are for the better, either. We are seeing that here first-hand.

The purpose of Yucatan Living is to provide information that is helpful, honest and (hopefully) entertaining about living here. On a practical level, we are trying to make it easier for people to choose Yucatan as their new home. We also believe that if people have the imagination, inspiration and courage to escape situations that do not truly serve them, then something quite meaningful has been achieved. We're big fans of Reality, both dark and light. And we're big fans of liberty. It takes a special talent to write about the dark in an original and useful way, but when it comes to this website and its subject matter, we are exercising our freedom to write about the light.

Comments

  • meg 10 years ago

    We have a home in Merida, one of the classics that has been redone. We absolutely adore it there. All of the drawbacks you have listed don't really bother us. You'll find the same in the Carribbean, especially those dang insects!

    It helps that we speak the language and are familiar with Mexico. We plan to live there someday, but for now are happy just to be able to go there. We love the slower pace. As a poster above said, I applaud you for pointing out our American failings.

  • Viola 10 years ago

    We own a home in Merida. Don't have any FM2 or 3 as of yet. I hear that taxes are going up?
    Can one own a car without the FM2-3? Seems odd that you can buy a house and cannot own a car?
    Any information is welcomed.
    Have a great day.

  • Micaela 10 years ago

    Calmex.
    Wow! You are one of those with the ability to see things deeper.
    Thank for being that way.
    Micaela

  • barbara mcclatchie 11 years ago

    As a former journalist who is embarrassed by the pandering of the north american press to our less attractive instincts, I applaud you.
    b

  • the cubangringo 11 years ago

    I was in Merida in Jan. of '08. It reminded me of my native country. I enjoy your web site very much. My wife and I are return for a second visit. The people are very friendly, its a great city.Your article its extraordinary.Keep up the good work.

  • Quisiera Ser Alcohol « ¡Órale, pues! 12 years ago

    [...] adoration of the culture.  Reading Heather’s Lost Weekend post and Yucatan Living’s editorial, The Dark Side of Yucatan, reminded me of my first experience with the devastation that drinking [...]

  • GabachaYucateca 12 years ago

    When I clicked over to this from Merida Moments, I had expected a similar word painting about the less than pretty side of life al estilo Yucateco.

    I can see why you chose to concentrate on the light, and I really enjoyed your concluding points. However, the negative points that expats make about life in Mexico seem to almost always be about exterior things: Insects, roads, disorganization.

    I guess I just try to write about what I perceive as negative about the culture in such a way that it's not a rant, nor a condemnation, but rather a word-picture of the less-than-pretty much in the same way that the Working Gringos wrote about the beautiful.

  • Carlos Daniel Gallegos 12 years ago

    I had to revisit this article, as to the 'them vs us' attitude. There is no outright display of this or open display of this. Yet, my wife, 100% Yucateca, says there is some reservations among her family and friends about the increase of outsiders to Merida and the Yucatan. Even people from interior Mexico. There is a political board in the Plaza Grande. If you have not done so yet, and you live in Merida, stop by and read it some time. There is much anti-Mexican and USA message written on that board. This past Nov. 1st in Plano TX was the swearing in of new U.S. citizens. Person's who came into the U.S. the right way. Just as Mexico protects it's borders and requires us to have an FM3 Visa, the USA also wants to protect its country. Maybe, the large number of gringos in Mexico will influence the country to take a path of improvement? Then, maybe her people will stop the exodus and come home to their hermosa pais. :-)

  • Beverly 12 years ago

    As a longtime NYer who has endured a high level of "hassle factor" to continue to live here, I can say from experience that sometimes the problems are a pain, but not enough to give up on the place you love to be. Merida felt like home to me in many ways during my recent visit there--a very liveable city despite the skinny sidewalks, pollution, and scary traffic. Of course things are done differently--that's a given. But what a wonderfully warm, social, diverse, tolerant, and interesting place to visit and/or live. I hope to give it a try someday. It has a spirit to it that is unquenchable and irresistable--as does NYC, at least for me. Viva Merida and viva Mexico.

  • MB 12 years ago

    Thanks for a great post. I feel that it's good idea to be realistic about visiting or moving to a new place. I find that when I'm not distressed over the fact that a place I've built up in my mind is not a perfect utopia, I can be open to surprises and the truly good things about that place. While I think we should focus on the positives, knowing some of the negatives certainly helped me avoid some pitfalls and enjoy my recent trip to the Yucatan. It was one of the best trips I've ever taken.

  • clemente escobedo 12 years ago

    Good job keep the good vibes going

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