Sunday, August 29, 2010

What are Yucatan people like?

What are Meridians like? Please understand that what we share with you is just our interpretation coming from the American culture. In no way do we judge or make fun of the people here, they just do some things differently than we are used to. They can be very kind and gracious most of the time and at other times can appear to be rude, but only by American standards.

Our first few days in Merida have been spent running around shopping to set up our home. Even here Wal-mart does seem to have the best prices on many items along with some sort of warranty or decent return policy. While at the check-out counter at the nearest WM Supercenter, Jay, myself and the boys were waiting as the cashier totaled our purchase & out of the blue comes a woman with her children cutting right in front of us to address an issue with our cashier. She never looked at us or acknowledged us, & as we walked away with our cart, she continued her conversation very focused on the issue she was trying to resolve. On another occasion, while standing in line at Costco to get the boys some pizza, Jay experienced a woman cutting in front of him three different times within a span of 3 minutes for three different issues. She only acknowledged him on her third cut-in with a “perdon” when she physically had to move him to get to the counter.

 What we have been told though is this culture is very social and likes close physical contact, so if you are used to having your space, well…..don’t always expect that to be the case, especially with the lower social class in Meridian society! With the upper more educated class you will not experience this. Some people down here do not respect personal space as in the states & in fact if you leave any space between you and the counter, some people assume you are not really trying to wait in a line and have no problem moving in front of you.

Now for the gracious & kind side of the people here. We have been so blessed to have new friends and helpers here in Merida. Francisco, Sebastian, Arleta, Javier, Claudette, Larry & Tammy….We have been given people to lean on for small things. Jay tried to pay our landlord’s son-in law to help us set up utilities and he refused payment. On another day Jay ran into a local Baptist pastor while they were both looking at weedeaters at Home Depot. Larry and his wife Tammy and their 4 sons are originally from Decatur, Alabama. They have been in Merida for 10 years and pastor a Baptist church here of about 175 people. Fransisco, pictured to Jay's left in the photo, is our attorney and now friend. Arleta is his business partner and our realtor.

The list goes on. Javier was the one that built the home we rent. He came over at 8:30 PM one night at the drop of a hat to fix our water tank when the depth sensor stopped working and we ran out of water. He had us up and going again in 15 minutes so we could all take showers before going to bed. (In this climate you need to take showers before you go to bed all 365 days of the year.) When I told he and Sebastian we could just fix the water tank the next day they absolutely refused to let it wait and insisted they come over and fix the problem right away. Juakin (pronounced “wa-keen”) our next door neighbor is extremely laid back and easy to talk to although he travels on business most of the week and we almost never see him. All of these people are extremely educated, bilingual and very friendly. Our realtor and friend Arlette was previously a dentist and learned how to speak English by watching American television shows. WOW! That is a smart girl.

One thing that is very unique about the Meridian culture is that, at least among the middle to upper classes, men and women greet each other with with a handshake AND a kiss on the cheek. Men greet each other with hugs at times minus the smooch or just the simple handshake but for some reason it has become customary for men and women to at least push their cheeks together and make the sound of a kiss.

Yucatecans and Non-Yucatecans: This are two terms that you here from time to time in the Yucatan. Basically the people of the Yucatan are a proud people. Their language, although Spanish, is spoken with a Yucatecan dialect. If you are of Latin heritage, speak Spanish and show up here, you won't be able to hide the fact that you are not Yucetacan. The dialect is different, the slang is unique, and if you don't grow up here you can't hide the fact that you didn't. 

All in all our experiences have been very blessed. We have run into several Canadians and Americans while here, many of whom have lived in other cities in Mexico. And everyone of them says the same thing: "Merida is considered the safest, easiest, most convenient place to live in all of Mexico....especially for people from other countries.

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