A Day In The Life…

The Mexican elections are over, except for the mumbling, rumbling, and grumbling…

Although my candidate did not win the presidency, let’s hope it will all turn out for the best.

I accept the outcome but I can’t help feeling the need to express a little angst…

On You Tube, I found this instrumental track of “A Day in the Life”  ( ©1967 Lennon & McCartney )


I’ve written my own  (tongue in cheek) lyrics:

I heard the news today, oh boy
About a handsome man who made the grade
And though the spin was rather sad
Well I just had to sigh…
It’s better not to cry…

He won the race, he did do that
If it was fair or not, is not the case
The crowd of people stood and cheered
A smile lit up his face…

I saw another face , oh boy
Of the man… who lost the chase
The crowd of people turned away
But I just have to pray-ay-ay
That he’ll be back one day-ay-ay

To  turn us – on-n-n-n-n-n

(Lots of psychedelic sound … after all this song is from the Sargeant Pepper album)  Boom – boom – boom… ringing… piano… boom –  boom –  boom –  instrumental – surging melody –  honky-tonk –  surging melody –  ay-ay-ay-.ay-ay-ay – ah-ah-ah-ah strings…

And now there’s talk today oh boy
Of ballots lost, far from here …
The numbers are rather small
But they better count them all …
They – know –  howmany votes – it takes – to keep the ball.

They need to – turn-urn-urn-urn us – on-n-n-n-n-n
(Lots more psychedelic sound…  boom – boom – boom… ringing… piano… boom-boom-boom instrumental – surging… duh-h-h-h-h)

… Even if you don’t share my views I hope you have fun with the music!

Onward and Upward!


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In Other Words: Mérida

I have not been blogging too regularly as of late… there has been SO MUCH going on…

A couple of weeks ago, I met with Cher Bibler, the content editor of “In Other Words: Mérida” (IOW:M) This bi-monthly e-zine (an online literary magazine) offers a publishing opportunity for writers living in and around Mérida

Cher has been a resident of Mérida for several years now and has multiple creative pursuits, including theater and music. She exemplifies the ageless maxim: “Pursuing one creative outlet opens the door to the next.”

In the e-zine’s first post, Cher says:

“Bubbling under the surface of this colonial city in Mexico is a teeming mass of creative minds, some of whom create in the English language. So many, in fact, we thought it a movement that needed to be recorded as it progressed. Our steely tentacles have reached out beyond the city into the surrounding countryside and collected up the best fiction and poetry that we can find, and we encapsulate it for your perusal. And plan to continue to do so, on a roughly bimonthly basis, as long as the tentacles survive. Our reach grows ever larger – is no one safe? We look forward to the adventure, and we hope you do, too.”

In Other Words Mérida accepts submissions in the English or Spanish language. They welcome: fiction, poetry,        editorials, essays and interviews from Mérida area writers. The e-zine also showcases photographers and other artists. You can view the May 2012 issue: http://www.inotherwordsmerida.com There you’ll also find the guidelines for having your work included in a future issue.

Some new writers worry that they aren’t “ready” but… you have to be published to get published some more! Cher urges you to send your material.

The team at “In Other Words – Merida” includes:

Cher Bibler – content editor (English language)

Katie Brewer – managing editor

Fer de la Cruz – content editor (Spanish language)

Julie Stewart – interviews

*** The three images that accompany the text of this post are from the IOW:M website.


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The Wall

Our  Memory Wall

In our world there are many famous walls: the Vietnam Memorial Wall, The Great Wall of China, and the Walls of Jericho. Some walls are notorious like the former Berlin Wall and the current Wall along the México-USA Border. Ancient civilizations and great manors built walls around themselves to keep invaders out. Prisons have walls to keep people in…

In our house we have lots of walls: the outside one with purple bougainvillea cascading over the top and of course the ones that hold up our roof! But in the guest room we have a Memory Wall.

The Memory Wall is just what its name implies. There are photographs, small souvenirs, bits of art… We often change the pictures or add new ones. Yesterday I spent several hours doing just that.

Some of the wedding pictures have been up for quite a while; we’ll            celebrate our 35th anniversary very soon. And some aren’t even a year old; both our children were married in 2011.

There are little mementoes of trips…

And some of the memories have been given to us by our friends

The oldest photo is of my paternal grandmother, taken in 1917

My parents are both remembered, as are Jorge’s… And we have photos of uncles and aunts like Gisele who will    turn 100 this year… Cousins and old friends…And presiding at center stage is a large reproduction of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

When we have overnight guests, they always say they enjoyed looking at everything on our wall. Do you have a Memory Wall?


Filed under Family and Friends

The Mexican Presidential Debate 2012

The Mexican Presidential Candidates 2012

Mexico, with its wealth of natural resources, its geographic position, and a young hard-working population should be among the wealthiest nations on the planet. However the population of 113,000,000 is mired in an endless circle of violence, corruption and inequality. Since 1810 when it fought for independence from Spain, Mexico has been bogged down by (to be charitable) ineffective leadership. The 2012presidential election is an extremely important one.

Last night, June 10th, we watched the second and final debate of the four candidates in the Mexican presidential race. The election will be held on Sunday July 1st. The candidates are:

  • Enrique Pena Nieto: PRI
  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: PRD
  • Josefina Vazquez Mota: PAN
  • Gabriel Quadri of the New Alliance party.

Most polls show the New Alliance’s Gabriel Quadri is in fourth place; the PAN’s Vazquez Mota is in third place; Lopez    Obrador of the PRD is in second place; and the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto in first place.

All of the candidates have negative associations that the others play up.

Enrique Peña Nieto is the candidate for the party that held the presidency in Mexico for 70+ years. The PRI ruled the country with a combination of benevolence and iron fist tactics. The Mexican people are nervous of a return of the old regimen.

Nonetheless, they seem to prefer even this over another term with the PAN administration in the driver’s seat. This party ousted the PRI in 2000 and both their presidents have ended their 6 year terms with low approval ratings. Josefina Vazquez Mota the PAN candidate touts herself as “different” which many see as a weak position for the incumbent party to take.

Meanwhile the PRD’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador carries the stigma of being a hot-headed rabble rouser following his behavior after the last presidential election in 2006. At that time he maintained that the election had been stolen from him by means of the electoral fraud. Many believe the accusation to be true.

Finally Gabriel Quadri of the New Alliance presents an interesting platform but his party is simply not well known enough to be a serious contender.

The “debate” was more of an opportunity for each candidate to present their opinions and in some cases, dish the others:

  • The PAN candidate spent a good part of her allotted time accusing the other candidates of evil deeds. They pretty much defended their positions with solid counter opinions.
  • The PRI candidates tried to underscore the negative effect that the student movement (#Yo Soy 132) is having   on his campaign.
  • The PRD candidate stressed the social responsibility that is characteristic of his party and downplayed the notion that he would be the next Hugo Chavez.
  • The New Alliance urged the Mexican voters to rid their country of past policies that did not work and vote in a new option.

How will the Mexican electorate vote? Traditionally, they show amazing courage and conviction when they are under stress. Whatever the results determine on July 1st, the entire population needs to stand squarely behind the elected candidate. Pulling together is paramount if the country is to shake itself out of the negativity of the past.

* All photos are from Google Images. The top one shows the four candidates. The single shots  (in order of appearance) are of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD), Josefina Vasquez Mota (PAN), Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) and Gabriel Quadri (New Alliance)

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Filed under Commentary, Vida Latina

La Vulcanizadora

This is a Spanish quiz: A vulcanizadora is:

  1. A bar frequented by Vulcans in the Star Trek series
  2. A place where vultures congregate
  3. A place to get your tire repaired

If you chose “3” you are correct and you get the Spanish vocabulary prize of the week.                                                              

Maggie and I had a flat yesterday. Fortunately we discovered this when we were right outside the Vulcanizadora – modest as the workshop looked, we could see it was exactly what we needed.

The shop is run by José who is mute. Those who do not speak Spanish and have felt the frustration of being unable to communicate need to meet this guy. He made himself perfectly understood by means of sign language, jumping up and down, and drawing in the air.

He had the tire off the car in no time. He plunged it into a tank of water (to see where air bubbles would show) because where there are bubbles, there is also a problem. José got a pair of pliers and pulled out the culprit – a skinny little nail.

He turned to salute the Virgin of Guadalupe image on the wall. I interpreted this as a little prayer of thanks to her for helping him locate the problem…

He then pried, turned, hauled on and spun the tire to get it off the rim. He patched the little hole … plunged the tire back in the water to be sure there were no more bubbles (problems) Satisfied that the tire was now in excellent shape, he put it back on the car.

Time elapsed: 20 minutes                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Price: 70 pesos

Number of smiles exchanged: muchos

Client satisfaction: 100%

People like José are who you meet when you patronize Mérida’s local establishments.


Have a look at today’s post on my son’s blog:


Carlos, who lives in Norway, went with a fellow Mexican student  to the Mexican

students’ in Paris rally in support of the #yo soy 132 movement. His opinion is

interesting and common to most of the young people I’ve had the opportunity to speak



Filed under Commentary, Vida Latina

The Young People

I am honored that Elena Poniatowska has given me permission to translate and print an article she wrote for the Mexico City newspaper “La Jornada.”

You may or may not know that Elena Poniatowska is Mexico’s premier writer and journalist. She has won countless national and international awards but she claims her greatest joy is her family. On her 80th birthday she was asked if she would keep writing, “Oh yes, I have to…” she said,” I want to dedicate a book to each of my grandchildren!”

 Elena is the author of “Massacre in Mexico”, the chronicle that gave voice to the victims of the 1968 tragedy at Tlatelolco. She loves Mexico and says that the spontaneous student movement, begun on May 11,th  has filled her with new hope and energy.

 She wrote this article: “The Young People” for all the #Yo soy 132 supporters – those who are young and those who are young at heart.

 ¡Viva México!



One Sunday, fifty years ago, I went to Los Remedios with my son Mane and the engraver Alberto Beltran. We had to climb over a small hill and I could see that for 5 year old Mane, this required a great effort. I stretched out my hand. “Leave him alone, he has to learn to do it on his own,” said Alberto Beltran. At the time I worried that my son would fall. I didn’t get it then, but now I understand and I am thankful.

I am telling this little story because of the student movement that began on May 11th with  jeering, whistling and yelling aimed at the PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

This movement has released the spirit of Mexican people, and for this very reason, it is important that we not take advantage of the young people. They must not be used, and what they had the ability to start – all on their own, without help from any political party or figurehead, must not be taken away from them.

The #Yo soy 132 movement has already won some victories:

  • They have been heard throughout the country and no one has shut them down.
  • They have forced the national television stations to comply with Article 62 of the Federal Radio & Television laws and commit to broadcasting the second presidential debate.
  • The students have obliged the Secretariat of State and Immigration to remove the barricades that impeded public access.
  • They have demanded that Televisa and TV Azteca answer their questions.
  • Their actions caused Enrique Peña Nieto to declare that he will not speak at any more universities.
  • The students have asked for political charges to be leveled against Calderon, Peña Nieto and Elba Ester Gordillo.
  • But perhaps in the long run, their greatest achievement will have been to unite the private and public university students.

Working class guys from the public high schools and stylish girls from exclusive Ibero are all # 132.

The young people have put our election in the world’s eyes. Now we are seen as more than news about the drug wars. The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. are all watching Mexico’s youth.

The letter written by the Rector of the Ibero, José Morales Orozco, stipulates that he will protect his students because they are free, intelligent beings.

At conferences I am commonly asked about the differences between the young people of 1968 and those of today. I perpetually answer that youth is always the same. Now they have shown that this is true.

Today’s students, like those of ’68 are willing to stand up for Mexico, and they don’t need anyone to tell them how to do so.

PS: I am doubly pleased to print this article today because it is my 400th post. I did not plan it this way, it just happened… one of México’s lovely serendipitous surprises.


Filed under Guest Bloggers, Vida Latina, Writing

Neophytes on the road to Yucatan

Today we have a guest blogger. Greer Lavery  and his wife Janetta spend their winters in Yucatan. He has written a story about the drive from Ontario to Yucatan. I wonder how many readers of Writing From Merida have made this trip? And I have to ask if your experience included all the Laverys did?


In 2005, after four years of flying to Yucatán, and having seen many Canadian license plates in Progreso, Chicxulub and Mérida, we decided to drive from Ontario to Progreso hoping to see a good deal of rural Mexico along the way.

We arrived in McAllen, Texas late in the afternoon, planning to get an early start the next morning to cross into Reynosa, pick up our tourist visas and vehicle permit and begin our tour of Mexico. The first day’s destination was Tampico, about 400 km along an all-paved road with a few small towns and villages along the route. With cautious, sight-seeing driving we estimated we should be in Tampico by early afternoon, giving us plenty of time to find accommodation for the night; we had been strongly advised not to drive in Mexico after dark.

Upon arriving at the Immigration office shortly after 7am, we found that a caravan of eleven motor homes, each with multiple occupants, had arrived at the office before us, so we did not get on the road until late morning. We drove through areas of vegetable crops, orange groves, banana plantations, coconut groves and beautiful scenery. The long stretches of straight road shown on the map turned out to have MANY pueblos all along the route, each with a dozen or so topes, slowing travel to a crawl. The reduced speed did allow us to have a leisurely observance of life in the villages and towns so we did not mind the slow pace. We went along miles of road with no road signs, no signs of habitation and when we did come upon a road sign, the highway number did not match the number on the map. Villages were unnamed. The road was paved virtually all the way but it was also full of potholes, some large, some medium, and huge ruts in places where the asphalt had softened and heaved in the heat.The road was heavily populated with huge doble-semi-remolques. These trucks would creep through the villages and speed up on the straight stretches making passing risky on the treacherous roads. A pleasing revelation however, was that when passing was possible, the truckers would pull halfway onto the shoulder and give a signal to indicate that it was safe to pass. An enlightened and significant improvement over the attitude of truckers at home!!

It was dusk when we finally arrived at the outskirts of Tampico and began looking anxiously for a decent place to stay. A large MOTEL sign brought a sigh of relief and we drove into an inner row of units through a staggered pair of walls which blocked the view of the units from the street. A receptionist came out to greet us and directed us to drive into the garage of one of the units. The garage door was closed behind us and we entered the unit through a door inside the garage. This was the only door to the unit and there were no windows visible in the main room. The room was neat, clean, nicely furnished and looked very welcoming to two weary travelers. I asked about meals (they could be ordered from the front desk and would be brought to the room) and I enquired as well about the nightly room rate. At this point things began to go awry as I could not make sense of what the receptionist was saying. While not fluent in Spanish I could usually understand a simple accommodation conversation and make myself understood as well. The problem seemed to be on the length of stay. The motel girl kept looking at me quizzically each time I mentioned an overnite stay. She didn’t seem to have the same reservations once she looked at my gorgeous wife Janetta though. (At the time I thought it was my Spanish).

After a few minutes of getting nowhere we paused while Janetta went to look at the posted room rates on the door and I took a closer look around the room. She realized that the room was for rent by the hour and I noticed that the walls of the room were covered in mirrors. We both realized at the same moment the type of establishment we had blundered into and that was that. Janetta couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Personally, I was somewhat intrigued but to no avail. Out we went, back to the car and off into the dark Mexican night. We ended up at the Fiesta Inn, 1,450 pesos per nite and to add insult to injury, our bank card was stolen from our room while we were out to dinner.

Describing our experience once we got to Progreso generated quite a few chuckles. My good friend Joe from North Bay took great delight in introducing me to new people at our bridge table: “This is Greer. He’s an authority on Mexican hot sheet-motels.” Usually this just brought me a wary, uncertain glance but one sweet little old lady came back immediately with a reply I still remember: “Oh? Is he an owner or a user?”

We have since seen these motels in just about every city we’ve visited in Mexico – they seem to be a common and accepted part of Mexican culture.  Some fellow travelers have said that they have stayed in one on their drive to / from home. And why not? They’re clean, very secure, inexpensive, have meal delivery and, for those that are so inclined, all those mirrors!


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