An Evening in Merida

Remember drive in movies? Especially on a hot summer night with the windows open, your feet on the dash, cold beers and a brown bag of homemade popcorn? Yes, i am THAT OLD. Well, here in Merida we have LA68, a charming establishment where you’ll find a covered outdoor restaurant with a pizza oven and great vegetarian selections (hard to come by), a lovely shop selling hip artisan jewellery and clothing, and the piece de resistance, the garden courtyard. 3 nights of the week they convert their tiny courtyard to a movie theatre. Friday night they hosted a jazz group from the US, which we missed, sadly, but last night we eschewed the Scrabble game for a walk-in movie.

LA68 is a perfect 20 minute stroll from our casa, and an even more  perfect way to spend a warm Merida evening. We paid our 30 pesos, ordered a nice glass of vino tinto and headed in to find our uber comfy chairs amongst the collection of Mexicana, Walmart and flea market specials. With less than 20 other ‘gentes’ as our movie mates, it was quiet enough to hear the evening birds and the wind rustling the bamboo. As we settled into our seats, we recognized some familiar faces which is often what happens when we venture out. Francoise is originally from Paris, owns an amazing little gallery in Merida, and never remembers my name although he is rather fond of Ric. Dan has escaped the winter in Maine, is a first timer in Merida, shares our love of great capuccino and Croque Monsieur, and has already thrown away his return ticket and applied for an extended stay Visa. He is a house/dog sitter by trade, has been volunteering at the local animal shelters and we are hoping he and Iggy hit it off so we can escape for a weekend to Holbox, sans perro.

For a couple of introverts with mildly extroverted tendencies, we have really tried to open ourselves up to this new place we’re calling home. Last week whilst at a little French bistro/cafe/patisserie we have claimed as our own, we struck up a conversation with Walter, who was immersed in the latest Murakami so of course we had to interrupt his reverie. A handsome man in his mid 40s, Walter is originally from Argentina and lives in Vancouver. He and his amazing wife Guadalupe (Lupita), chucked it all in for 3 months, bought a pick up truck, loaded their 9 year old daughter Uma into the back seat with enough distractions to survive the 7500 kms to Merida, and headed south. They have since spent an afternoon sipping wine in our rubble pile (soon to be a garden), and we had such an amazing connection I have enticed them back with the promise of a meal fit for a Pescatarian princessa (yes, i finally got my cooktop installed). They regaled us with their own tales of comraderie and humour (one involved Walter, a midnight ‘intruder’ and much yelling of ‘Iho de Puta!’, a phrase we will tuck away for future reference). And we think we have made some friends for life. But back to ‘la cine’….

The movie showing that night was called Wasteland, about the images from the largest garbage dump in the world in Rio, and the Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz who created these powerful images. We had seen this artists’ work in London and San Fransisco, so it was inspiring to experience where he has taken himself, and his photography.

The streets of Merida were almost empty on our walk home, which is still something that seems strange to us given it is a city of 1 million people. But they are there. You see them as you pass by the street side doorways, whole families crowded into the front rooms, telling stories, laughing, watching telly, swinging in their hammocks….buenos noches vicinos.

In October 2012, I drove 6,800 kms with my artist husband, Ric Kokotovich (, and my dog Iggy, to spend 6 months in our adopted city of Merida. Leaving the fast paced world of Calgary behind, I packed my books, art and entrepreneurial spirit, and set off to explore what lay beyond the borders that had become my life. In October 2013 we hit the road south again, hoping to find out what ‘living the dream’ really means. This is my adventure.

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