Correo del Otro Lado
As Working Gringos in Merida, we have enjoyed the good fortune of meeting Yucatecos from all walks of life as well as other gringos who immigrated to Yucatan before we did. Their support and advice have been invaluable as we adapt to our new home and assimilate into this unique culture. When we started the Yucatan Living website, our aim was simple: to create a place on the Internet for gringos who lived here or were considering moving here that would be as helpful and interesting as our experiences. In short, we expected it to be an online expatriate resource.
Well, sometimes in life, things don't always turn out as planned... sometimes, they turn out even better! Almost since the beginning, Yucatan Living has (unexpectedly) attracted English-speaking Yucateco and Mexican readers who have provided even more help to us new arrivals and better insights into their culture.
What's more surprising, however, are the many Yucatecos living in el otro lado (the other side of the border), as well as those who live with one foot on both sides, who are frequent readers and commentators. These readers are our role models, because they have already achieved what we are striving to become: bilingual, cross-cultural North Americans*. They enrich our lives in ways we could hardly begin to explain, especially when they live in our former home state of California (el otro lado in more ways than one). It is like seeing a reflection of ourselves through Alice's looking glass. One way to explain how it feels is to share this correo electronico (email) we recently received:
It is funny how things fall into place at times. I had been reading about President Bush’s visit to Mexico last week. It was then that I discovered that he was going to be staying in Merida. A quick Google search for the president in Merida brought me to your website.
I guess I should start off by saying that your website is probably the best I have ever seen when it comes to documenting the daily life of Yucatan.
My name is Roque and I am a son of two Yucatecos. My parents immigrated to California at a very young age. My father left Merida with his father at a very young age, perhaps due to the fact that my dad was attracted to the stories he had heard about America. My mother is the daughter of a real estate developer. My grandfather was an entrepreneur at the time. He developed more than half of Jardines Miraflores in addition to being involved in the growing textile industry. During my father’s adventures in Los Angeles he managed to get himself enlisted in the Army. A few years later he returned to Merida to marry my mother and bring her to California. They stayed in California, but ever since I was little, my parents have taken me and my brothers to Merida to learn our culture and remember where we came from.
I am 26 years old, the eldest son of three. My brother and I have graduated from different universities, myself and my youngest brother both were in the military.
Most of our family is in Merida, we plan on returning soon. We have a house in Chelem and the rest of the family is in Merida. Although, there is a small group of Moguel that still live in Hoctun. I invite you to visit there sometime. One of its main attractions is its colorful cemeteries.
I share all this with you as testament that Yucatecos end up in all parts of the world. Los Angeles might be far away, yet Yucatan is still in our hearts. Reading your observations of Merida only brings that closer to us.
We have plans as an entire family to return to Merida for my parents 30th Wedding Anniversary this year. Perhaps I could introduce you to my parents over some
botanas de relleno negro. My father studied Anthropology of that area and he could tell you all types of stories and histories of Yucatan that will make you love the place even more. It worked on me!
Best wishes with the website and your time in Yucatan!
Roque Joaquin Moguel
Muchas gracias, Roque, for your kind letter (and to all those Yucatecos who have written us or left comments on this website). We look forward to meeting you and the Moguel family the next time you're in Yucatan. But upon further reflection, why don't we bring the relleno negro and you bring the tri-tip and sourdough bread? ;)
Nos vemos (y saludos a La Peregrina),
* Note: Although gringos are often called Norte Americanos in Spanish, we use the term "North Americans" here to refer to people living on the North American Continent, from Canada to Panama.