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Mérida Retreads

Orange building in Merida
Credit: Starmuc | Bigstock

A few days ago we drove into Centro to pick up a mirror. There are numerous online garage sales and antiques sites here, and occasionally a treasure appears among the Mérida retreads.

This mirror looked vaguely familiar. It was large and very ornate, not at all the style of our house, but I liked the idea of introducing a new element into the mix. The seller had sent us the address, and a quick Google search revealed it to be a house we had considered when we were first shopping for real estate here two years prior.

I looked up my old photos from the viewing and there was this very mirror, as well as numerous other antiques also being put on the market. The house was also a Mérida retread – a late colonial in a great neighborhood, already restored by a crusty old Englishman with Victorian tastes. It would be interesting to see how the buyer had updated it.

The new owners were a charming couple our own age, and we struck up a conversation about the quirks of this, or really any, old house, how they decided what to alter and what to leave alone.

They informed us they were selling the house in order to move to Medellín, Colombia. How exciting! I had heard lots of great things about Medellín, but I was curious as to what they disliked about Mérida that inclined them to move.

“Nothing”, she replied, “nothing at all. We love it here.” I was relieved to hear this, not really wanting to encounter any negativity toward my newly adopted home, but I was then even more curious about the impending move. She said they wanted to move again while they were still in good health and could do so. It just felt like the right time after having spent seven years here in Yucatán. They were radiant at the prospect, and began to list the many things they had already discovered in their soon-to-be-new home.

This is a sentiment that one encounters frequently among expats. The world is too large and too interesting to feel hemmed into a single location or single worldview forever. Some people are content to read about distant lands in books or to see them in films, but others feel the need to experience them first hand. Even after taking the plunge and moving to a new place, there remains the desire to look beyond boundaries and to broaden the horizon.

I totally get this. I am no stranger to change. Change is the one constant in life – inevitable, even if it is seldom something we might choose personally. External circumstances – divorce, death of a spouse, changes in administration at work, economic downturns – can push us where we are no longer comfortable. We can either adapt and move forward, or stagnate and wither.

Looking back, I can count thirty different addresses where I have lived – in seventeen cities, nine states, and three countries. Most were great places to live, with unique things to see and do, and wonderful, caring people to do them with. Rarely was I happy to leave a place, but I have always welcomed the next adventure, each opportunity to re-create myself in new surroundings and with new people. Moving to Mexico was, in many ways, the most challenging and angst-inducing retread I have made, but so far we have not regretted it in the least.

After a little negotiating on price, we packed the mirror into our small SUV. In the neighboring house a woman was pulling out her keys to unlock the front door. I recognized her from a lecture we had attended a few weeks earlier. Marina is an expert on Mexican history, culture and society, and basically ALL things Yucatecan.

Her lecture had been superb. (As a former university professor my standards are pretty unforgiving.) We had just signed up for a tour she is leading in March to Morelia and Pátzcuaro to see the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacán. She will be well prepared and insightful if her lecture was any indication.

We re-introduced ourselves to her and exchanged pleasantries. She introduced us to her husband, and some of her children and, in the spirit of Yucatecan hospitality invited us in. We explained that we needed to get the mirror home, and didn’t want to drive after dark, but we look forward to travelling with her. The world suddenly felt a little smaller and more stable once again.

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Keith Paulson-Thorp
Lifestyle blogger Keith Paulson-Thorp is a retired professor and church musician who lives in beautiful Mérida, Yucatán. He plays with local chamber music groups and with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatán. “Dr. Keith” taught at Valparaiso University, the University of Louisiana, and the University of Miami’s Osher Lifelong-Learning Center. He also was music director at large churches in Houston, Palm Beach and at the famous Old Mission Santa Barbara in California. Email: KikiPT@aol.com. You can read more from Keith at https://www.meridaexpat.net.