YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and where did you move from and why did you move?
Trudy: I moved here in October 2001 from Vancouver, Canada. I loved the city and had family, good friends and work there but since 1992 when I first visited Merida, I knew I wanted to come back and live here. I had an opportunity to sell my photography business in Vancouver so I decided to make the move then.
YL: Why did you choose the city you live in over other places in the world?
Trudy: I think it was the other way around. I think Merida chose me. I felt called here and from the first time I came to Merida it felt like home. I never considered living anywhere else.
YL: What did you plan to do after you moved here?
Trudy: I planned to create a retirement career to help finance my new life. I saw a need for small tours with a personal touch and planned to start a tour company.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here?
Trudy: Yes, Iluminado Tours has been offering tours for three years now.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the
Trudy: I rented. I decided when I first moved here that I would give myself one year to settle in and see how things worked. I loved that year. I volunteered at the Merida English Library, met lots of people and made some good friends. I doubt that I will ever discover how things work here but I had a year to learn patience. I then started Iluminado Tours and it was another two years before I bought a house. For me, it was the right decision. It gave me time to see what was available, where I would be happy living and some clue to how it could be done. That first year I was here I never would have had the nerve to buy the ruin I ended up buying three years later.
YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?
Trudy: I still love it here. It still feels like home.
YL: Would you ever return to your former location?
Trudy: I go back to Canada in the summer for a visit every couple of years and really enjoy it. I can’t imagine ever living there again.
YL: What are the most striking differences between living here versus living where you lived before?
Trudy: Being able to live in doors and out doors all year round is a big difference. I feel more at peace here. The pace is slower and I don’t feel the need to rush around all the time.
YL: What do you love about living here?
Trudy: The people. They are friendly and smile a lot. Sometimes I think they are laughing at us but that's okay. I don’t think they can understand us since it would never occur to them to move away from family and live in a foreign place. I also love the culture: the ancient Maya, the Spanish colonial and the current Yucatan culture.
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
Trudy: Family and friends. My sisters have all been for a visit and some of them more than once. I have had some good friends come too. But my mother is 88 years old and I miss spending time with her. I have a computer phone system now and can call her more often and that helps.
That’s about all I miss except for good Asian food. I look forward to Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese meals every visit to Vancouver.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here?
Trudy: It can be very frustrating. I don’t understand the system and it is different than in Canada. I had my own business there but it was easier because I understood the rules and could make some sense out of what I was required to do. Here I have a good accountant and trust he knows what he is doing. Having a business here is a good way to learn trust and patience.
YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?
Trudy: No, Iluminado Tours keeps me as busy as I want to be.
YL: Do you work as much as you used to "back home" or are your work habits different here?
Trudy: Tours are seasonal so I work really hard from October through May but then ease off in the summer. Since I am doing what I love I don’t really see it as work. In Canada I was going into the office five or six days a week and then taking work home so it always felt like I was working. Walking around the various Maya sites with a group of interesting people doesn’t feel like that at all.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Trudy: I loved Merida as a tourist. There were concerts to go to, I could walk everywhere, there was transportation to all the ruins and the beach and there were great little restaurants to eat in. Living here is even better. I still have all of that plus great markets to shop in, friends to visit and now I know what is behind all those doors. As a tourist you walk past all these colonial houses that are right on the street and have no idea how many have beautiful courtyards, gardens and trees in the back.
YL: How is your Spanish?
Trudy: Not great. I see learning Spanish as a lifetime challenge. I am making progress and look forward to the day I can really say I speak Spanish.
YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?
Trudy: I know enough to get what I need in my day to day life. I don’t have enough Spanish to carry on an interesting conversation and that is what is needed to make friends with the Mexicans in my community.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?
Trudy: Give yourself time to see where you fit in. Find out how things work for yourself. Everybody’s experience is different. Find out how you want to do it.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?
Trudy: No, I am a Canadian.
YL: If you aren't, do you think you will become one?
Trudy: Possibly. I haven’t given it much thought.
YL: Why would or wouldn't you?
Trudy: If it meant I wouldn’t have to renew my FM3 every year that would be a plus. I wouldn’t if it meant I had to give up my Canadian passport. I have been here almost five years so it is time to look into it and see if it is something I want to do.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
Trudy: I feel welcome. My neighbors are great. They always say hello and are friendly and polite. I haven’t had any problems.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico?
Trudy: I think Mexico is just coming into its own. There is a freedom of spirit that makes it a great place to be. Tourism is growing in the Yucatan and I can’t see that changing anytime in the near future.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Trudy: I am learning a lot about the ancient Maya culture, especially the spirituality, and I want to learn more. I plan to incorporate this into the tours Iluminado offers. I plan to continue on working and living here.
YL: Do you see your business growing?
Trudy: Yes. Tourism is growing and I expect it will continue to grow for a number of years. I am getting more and more requests for private tours and am enjoying doing them. There is a growing market for tours with some spiritual and cultural element and that is what I enjoy doing most. I can see it growing as big as I want it to be.
YL: Do you see yourself staying?
Trudy: Yes. Definitely.
YL: Any last words?
Trudy: I wanted a new life when I moved here and I took that first year to figure out what it should be like. I was careful not to just create my old life in a warmer climate. I suggest others take the time to really know what they want their life to be like and then give themselves the time to create it.
Trudy Woodcock is the owner and founder of Iluminado Tours, a boutique tour company that leads spiritual and cultural tours of the Mayan ruins and pueblos around Merida.