Bruce and Mary have given up the unrealistic dream of owning a B & B and have starting networking in Mérida in order to create a client base for Bruce’s personal training business, now that he has established himself at a local gringo-owned gym. Bruce’s new friend Terry, the retired anthropology prof at the NAFTA party, had called about a Mérida Verde meeting. It seemed like another good opportunity for networking so Bruce said, “Sure”, he and Mary would be glad to attend.
The Front Room of a Million Dollar Merida Casa
Mary and I are getting ready, on this day in late April, 2008, to go to the Mérida Verde, Green Mérida, meeting and I am discovering that the only non-tanktop shirt I have is a blue polo shirt, but at least I do have some kind of dressy shorts. Well, sort of. Mary has a little more variety in her wardrobe, but not much. We’ll probably be way under-dressed but as my brother-in-law Bill used to always say, “****em if they can’t take a joke.”
We walk the six blocks in the 95° heat to the house of Mérida Verde’s pres who is hosting the meeting and we are greeted at the very ornate, wooden door by owner Julie, a clone of Julia Child, down to the warbly voice. The door opens onto a million dollar, gut renovated, Spanish Colonial casa. We enter the gorgeously furnished front room with its 18’ high ceiling framing an ornate, antique ceiling fan. As a final touch this room has lit alcoves built right into the concrete walls which contain original Haitian art works. We are ushered into the central courtyard featuring an hourglass shaped pool lined with ocean blue tile. Off in the corner of the courtyard is an iron lattice-work patio table and chairs where a subcommittee is still conducting their mini-meeting. I say hi to Terry and we are properly introduced to the four women sitting with him. Julie takes us through the archway and beyond the formal dining area across from a kitchen that the real Julia Child would kill for, to another patio area fronting the flower garden, where we are seated.
Miguel, chief of staff, and Irma are in charge of hospitality and we are offered red wine, beer, or Calimochos, which are half red wine and half coca cola. I opt for the vino and Miguel serves it up in a huge clear-glass goblet. I feel like I’m in King Arthur’s court. Mary, the smart one in the family, opts for coca lite.
After about 15 minutes or so, the members of the subcommittee join us and we chitchat, waiting for the other members of the group to arrive. Julie, a New Yorker, tells us that she has been to Minnesota, our home state, more specifically to Minneapolis. She was a VP of an international city planning company and was involved with impact statements for the light rail project. She admits that she liked the city but was a little concerned when she found herself there one September, with just a light jacket along and it started to snow.
We have a quorum now and Julie passes out detailed agendas, with every presentation given a time slot. You can tell she’s done this before. Julie has the thirteen of us introduce ourselves. I whisper to Mary, who always has her moleskin at the ready, to make a list of the names in their seating arrangement, so we’ll have ready recall as the meeting progresses.
First up is Robin a middle aged heavy set woman who tells a tale of woe involving a Fiesta Familiar, a beer joint, setting up in next door to her “hacienda” in south Centro and playing sternum rattling music until 4AM every night. Her complaints resulted in intimidation by dead burro at the front door and visits by some “secret police.” It’s a fascinating story but Julie cuts her off when her time slot has expired. I’m not sure what her story has to do with Green Mérida, maybe because she never really had a chance to wrap up her story.
Next up is Bill, a slender, mustachioed retired marine biologist whose project has been translating “An Inconvenient Truth” into Spanish and uploading segments to You-Tube. Everyone applauds this consciousness-raising effort.
Now it’s Laurie’s and GeorgeAnn’s turn and they tell of their recycling efforts. Laurie is a tall fifty something woman married to a local and GeorgeAnn is a small seventy something retired teacher. They have both lived in Mérida many years. They have been trying to put together programs working with local schools and they too are applauded for their hard work in this area.
At the beginning of the meeting Julie had, without comment, started a book circulating among the group. I looked at the book titled “Living in San Miguel” by a Jane McCarthy and passed it along without much thought. All I know is I am having more and more good ideas that I’ve been happy to share with the group, as Miguel has been quite conscientious about keeping my wine goblet full.
The meeting is coming to the last bullet point in the agenda and it simply reads “Book”. Julie stands and says, “You’re probably wondering why I had you pass this book around.” The group murmurs. “If we are to be a real group, we need real money. I’ve received permission from my good friend Jane McCarthy to use her book as a template for our book, “Living in Mérida”. I propose this book project as a fund raiser for Mérida Verde.”
I wonder out loud if anyone has already done this, published an “owner’s manual” for expats living in Mérida. Julie responds that she did her due diligence and that no such book exists. “Well then, I’ll be happy to help out, I like to write.” I say expansively. These become famous last words as the discussion about the book takes on a life of its own. Julie says, “Good, then it’s agreed that we will embark on this book writing, fund raising project. This meeting of Mérida Verde is adjourned.”
I’m a little unsure of what just happened despite my wine-heightened consciousness and I ask Julie as we are leaving, “Excuse me Julie, but did I just volunteer to head up this book writing project?” With a great big smile and a pat on my shoulder she says, “You sure did.”
Thanks for visiting gentle reader. What has Bruce gotten himself into now? Sure, he likes to write and he has even written a few columns for small town newspapers, but a book? As always, Bruce enjoys any and all commentary. Hasta Pronto!