Feliz Cumpleanos

Merida

Merida, Yucatan, MX

Feliz Cumpleaños.  My brother Joel and I don’t hang out much with the local expats here in Merida, and we’re usually at home and in bed when the evening pub-crawls start.  We do have some good friends amongst the expat community, but we’ve been more interested in assimilating and exploring this beautiful Mexican (Yucatecan) culture that surrounds us than just continuing the lifestyle we had in Los Estados Unidos.

So it came as a bit of a surprise, to our Merida friends, to see los dos hermanos in Hennessey’s Irish Pub on Paseo de Montejo on a friday night.  For whatever reason we’ve been befriended by a local businessman here in Yucatan, and he invited us to his wife’s birthday celebration last night.  I won’t embarrass him or his family by using their names in this blog post; suffice it to say that he has become both a good friend and a trusted source of information for all things Latin American.  He married a beautiful Norte Americano, so their children have the benefit of two cultures and two languages.

Watching the kids, a boy and a girl, toggle between the two cultures kept Joel and me entertained the entire evening.  They are eleven and fourteen respectively, and a pure delight.  This is a family that works on all levels.  Mom and dad not only love one another, but they even like one another.  The kids love and like their parents, and the parents love and like their kids.  It is a family dynamic that is fun to be around, and we felt privileged to be invited.  The kids are beautiful, intelligent, talented and funny—very funny.  This morning my stomach muscles ache with all of the laughing I did last night.

I’ve mentioned before, on this blog, how Yucatan is very 1950’s in its feel and overall atmosphere.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the family (and extended family) dynamic.  The kids were allowed to attend this adult function and to interact with the guests:  They were polite, respectful, well-mannered and funny.  Did I mention funny?  I could go on and on about this interesting family, and our relationship with the father (a very interesting man in his own right), but I respect their privacy and friendship too much to put it at risk.

We’ve been fortunate, during our stay in Merida, to meet local’s who trust us enough to let us into their lives to glimpse and experience a part of the real Mexico, not just tourist Mexico.  We’ve been invited into homes, parties and cultural events.  We been introduced to families:  Husbands, wives, sons and daughters; aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and cousins.  We’ve been made to feel welcome and included.  It is a warm and loving feeling, best expressed with the Yucatecan greeting of a warm embrace and kiss on the cheek.  When we finally leave Merida, it won’t be the sights and sounds that I miss—it will be the people, my Mexican friends.

Muchas gracias amigo for inviting us to a wonderful evening of celebration, and for allowing us to become part of your family for a few hours.  And to your beautiful wife:  Felize cumpleaños.

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