Down in the dumpsOne week into arriving in Mérida, and we both hit a low. It was Sunday and things had not been going as planned with the house hunting. We had to revisit the immigration office again with more changes to our forms; our lack of Spanish. We are stuck in the room with no outside to speak of. We are struggling to speak or understand and we both just felt sorry for ourselves. Herman also had a stomach bug which made him tired and sleepy. I was sitting reading and lethargic and missed the kids. Why did we come here again...?
We expected this; it's a normal thing when you start over in a new country and have to figure things out. Add to that the language barrier and it's definitely not easy. But we had a good night's sleep and Monday things were better again.
Easter is one of the biggest holidays in Mérida (all of Mexico) and on Palm Sunday the patrons of the church were carrying palm leaves to symbolize the palm leaves that were thrown on the street for Jesus. It is amazing to see that Easter is a religious holiday here. No Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs. Such a nice change. The schools are closed for two weeks and many parents are on vacation as well.
ImmigrationShould it be this simple?
Our experience with INM has been amazing. The staff have been super helpful and even though we were only successful in obtaining an appointment after our third visit, it was a positive experience. Celebratory drinks are served!
I guess having worked in government in Canada, made me accept the requirements easier that those who hate the steps that is required by governments. Ultimately their system works really well and considering how long it took for us to get approval to immigrate to Canada, we are super happy with a one month period for switching from a temporary visa to temporary residents' cards in Mexico. Next step fingerprints and fotos.
There is an internet cafe (Fl@sh) on the corner of Calle 35 and 82 in Mérida where you can get the paperwork filled out online and printed with the help of a young Canadian who opened a business a block away from the INM office. He also has the ability to print the fotos needed for the application's second step..
Walking the dogA real gringo thing to do here by the way. In our boredom on Sunday we decided to try out a new park where we can walk the dog. On our way there Xena was almost killed by a doberman who escaped from her front yard. Luckily for us Xena is seriously fast and Herman was seriously brave and chased the dog away! Out of breath and shaky we proceeded to the park only to find out it was closed on Sundays.
It made me remember that in South Africa, same as in Mexico, people do not usually walk their dogs and if they do, they are seldom on leash. Anyway, that was back in 1996, which means it could have changed. But dogs are animals here and not really seen as the member of the family as they are in Canada. They sleep outside and guard the house. Their exercise is from running around outside in the enclosed yard. If they get out, they usually come home again or you chase them down threatening bodily hard until they return. Just some tiny differences between cultures.
Water, veggies and fruits, food: stores, markets and filling stations.As in Canada, everyone here drinks bottled water. There are automatic filling stations along the road where you can pay a few dollars and fill your 1, 5 or 20 litre bottles or you can go to the corner/grocery store and get a replacement. Coca Cola is king though and large pop bottles are 2.5 litres - not the usual 2 we are used to in Canada. There is no Diet Coke, but Coke Light and Coke sin sucre.
Vieggies and fruit stores are everywhere and there are also local markets where you can buy really fresh local produce for a steal. Grocery stores sell everything you could want including alcohol, toiletries and clothes, however their fresh produce is often not as great as the fresh markets. The cheese and milk is different from Canada, but still really tasty.
Getting gas for the car was a shocker. The fuel price here is really high since it's been privatized. We paid more to fill our car here than in Canada, which we did not really expect.
House huntingWhen we were here a couple of years ago, we looked at some real estate and saw two houses that we really liked and was in our rock bottom price range. When we saw them again this weekend, we were not so impressed with one of them anymore. The other houses on our list were also not what we really wanted. Except for the one, which we made an offer on, however probably not what the owner wanted, we have to consider finding something different. We are waiting to hear from the owner about our offer and we are hoping to see two more properties this week. One seems too good to be true; let's hope not.
We are in a routine now: getting up early, checking online accounts, walking the dog in the local park and then off to do the one item we want to complete today. When we return we check for property for sale and contact agents. Have a light snack and a beer. Nap in the afternoon (Herman) or read (Denise). Make dinner and walk the dog again in the local park. Read/learn Spanish (Denise)/watch tv (Herman). Pretty much what we are doing right now. Once we have the house and the acceptance of an offer, there will be lots of paperwork to do and new hoops to jump through, but we will get 'er done.