Il Caffe Italiano

In downtown Merida, the building of new cultural tourism infrastructure is in full swing.  A big music venue, “El Palacio de la Música” is the most ambitious. When the Legislative Assembly moved to new quarters on the periphery of the city, their former building was razed and work started on the new attraction. Great!

Yes –  GREAT – unless you own one of the businesses that is hidden by the construction zone. The sweet little bistro, Il Caffe Italiano, cannot be seen because of scaffolding and plywood along the southern side of the Peon Contreras Theater – a shame because the city is full of tourists looking for a delicious places to eat.

il caffe 2

However, YOU can easily find this secret spot . All you need to do is follow the locals.

il caffe 3

Off 60th, on the east side of the street, between  57th and 59th Streets, you’ll see a pedestrian mall . There is a colonial church on one side and a pretty square (with a statue of a mother and her children) on the other.  Walk 50 yards down the pedestrian mall, past the vendors and taxis and another restaurant.  Then  just step around the fence and you’ll see the restaurant. Outdoor and inside dining are available. The Italian and Mediterranean specialties are all good – you’ll not be disappointed – but I particularly like the seafood pasta.

il caffe 1

You can also get to Il Caffe from 58th Street, between 57 and 59.  A car rental agency and souvenir shop are having the same issues as the restaurant. No tourists can find them either.

It is important to support our local businesses because if we don’t, they will be forced to close, and we will end up with a city full of chain restaurants and stores. This has happened in other places and it would be a shame for Merida to lose the charm of its local eateries and boutiques.

Dinner reservations for Il Caffe Italiano can be made at: 928-0093  – or just drop by – I’m sure they’ll have a table and wonderful meal for you.

Bless your hearts, but…

During my years living in Merida, I have met a number of people from the southern United States. They have many endearing qualities and the one I love best, is their habit of prefacing any criticism with, “Well, bless your heart, but…”

Today’s post is not meant to offend any private individuals, but I do have a point to make.  So I’ll borrow the southern expression…

Bless your hearts but… citizens of the United States of America …  you have important work to do.

You’ll notice I am not calling you “Americans”. You do not have sole claim to that moniker; every man, woman and child who lives in North, Central or South America is an “American”. It is important for everyone to be conscious of this. And what happens in the United States of America has a direct effect on all us other “Americans”.

I do not believe that citizens of the USA are aware of how the insidious power brokers of their country are selling them down the river. And the rest of us are caught in the current.

Many wrongs need to be righted, but to me these are the four BIGGIES:

  • In the USA, the NRA and other gun lobbying groups defend the “constitutional right to bear arms”. But think about it? Do you believe those fat cats care about your constitutional rights? All they want is to continue the escalation of weapons manufacturing; it is a multi-billion dollar industry.
  • Global warming is real and it is frightening. It is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. The top two emitters are: China: (9697 million tons (MT) or 28.6%) and the USA: 5420 MT or 16.0%. The population of China is about 1,379,400,000. In the USA it is about 325,000,000. So China is a bigger polluter by 12 %, but it does have 1 billion+ more people. Donald Trump calls global warming a “hoax”.  He claims climate science is “bullshit” and he’s even described it (supposedly as a joke) a “Chinese conspiracy”. What kind of a person would say such a thing?
  • Donald Trump is blaming legal and illegal immigrants for the scarcity of jobs and the sluggish economy in the USA. That’s utter BS. According to the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz report I read, 94% of the USA’s newly-generated wealth is in the hands of 20% of the population (and 42% of that amount belongs to the top 1%). This of course means that 80% of the USA’s population manages only 6%. No wonder so little cash is circulating.
  • Racial tension and religious intolerance are once again boiling topics in the United States. We are born with lots or just a little pigment in our skin; how can that be a valid reason for liking or disliking someone else? The right to worship (or not) is as big a constitutional right as the one that allows people to “pack ‘em”.  Is upholding some rights more profitable than others? D’ya think?

Something is definitely not working.  Not at all.

The upcoming presidential election has me fearing for the future.

hilary and trump 2

How can Donald Trump even be considered as a candidate?

Can you imagine this man holding the codes that could launch a nuclear strike?

Remember how the “free world” rejoiced when the Berlin wall came down? Now Trump wants to build one along the USA-Mexico border. He has vowed to impose tariffs — in the range of 15 to 35 percent — on companies that move their operations to Mexico.

He proposes the use of ethnic and religious profiling to prevent terrorism. He said he would implement a database system to track Muslims living in the United States. Does no one remember how Jews were “tracked” prior to 1939, and what happened after that?

Trump has called for the police to arrest those who protest at his rallies. Isn’t freedom of assembly also a constitutional right?

He says that he tends to err on the side of security, over privacy. Trump supports bringing back now-expired provisions of the “Patriot Act” that allow the NSA to collect and store bulk telephone metadata.

The Free Press Action Fund, a group of tech policy activists, rated Trump the worst 2016 presidential candidate for “citizens’ digital lives,” citing his support of internet censorship and opposing net neutrality.

Several Democrats have told me, “It doesn’t matter if I vote because Trump will lose” – “Bernie Sanders was my man and since he lost, I refuse to vote.” – “The election won’t matter; it will be business as usual no matter who wins”.  They have also informed me that the state of the country is in a total shambles after Barak Obama’s two terms.

Bless their hearts, but I think that is a total cop-out.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Ê

How could Obama have done better? The Republican congress and senate blocked every initiative. Yet through it all, he hung on to his dignity. History will judge the opposition harshly. This period will be known as the last stand of the creepy old white men. Times have changed – they should have joined the rest of the XXI Century.

It is not a legal obligation for citizens of the United States to vote, but I believe it is a moral duty. Trump supporters will be heading to the polls for sure, so those who are not his deluded fan boys and girls, need to get out there and defend all the rest of us who live on the planet. We cannot vote. We depend on you.

This blog does not have a huge audience, but I am using it to state my views. Maybe it is not my place to do so – but I don’t care – I want US citizens to know how people in other countries feel. If this post spurs any eligible voters to get registered and show up on November 8th, I will be thrilled. Every vote counts.

For the good of us all, do not let this election be decided by neglect.

Please go to to this website now

How timely…

Starting about five years ago, Amazon ebooks gained worldwide market share in a dramatic way. Independent booksellers feared their world would end—and indeed many stores were forced to close.

But today, independent bookstores once again seem to be on safe ground.  The panic has abated – book stores are still around because they play a real role in their community.

Independent stores have always been appreciated for providing a personal touch and for knowing their customers. To suit their customers’ interests, they offer excellent customer service, tailor their inventory, and program special events.

While the rise of technology has forced independent booksellers to reinvent themselves, it has actually provided opportunities that didn’t exist before. Small businesses can use websites, social media, and email blasts just like the giant corporations. They also have access to software that makes inventory, accounting, and web design much easier and cost effective. And of course there is social media – small bookstores can have a constant presence.

Indie bookstores have always been reflective of their communities’ needs. And this is happening in Merida..

Our city is now known nationally and internationally as a center of the arts. The number of resident painters, writers, sculptors, musicians, film makers, actors and dancers is significant. Merida has numerous galleries, theaters and other venues for performance – and now we have a book store that focuses on the arts.

Humberto Chávez Mayol is best known for his role as a founding member of the ISEY – Yucatan’s Institute of the Arts. An accomplished artist, photographer and writer himself, he is well connected in Yucatan.

This morning I went to see his newly-opened book store.


Books, Coffee and Art

It is located right beside the MIDTOWN Café on the Slow Food Market site. (Calle 33-D No. 498 Local B Entre A. Reforma and Calle 6, Garcia Ginerés) The new store’s webpage is not up yet, but I am told it will be soon.

Maestro Chavez took time to show me the display of books. The selection is written in Spanish for the most part, but new titles will be appearing in the coming weeks. He also said that he would be pleased to have a section for local writers’ books. This is a much-needed boost. Perhaps there will be presentations and book readings in the future?

Next time you go to the Slow Food market on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning, go in and have a look around. It is important for the community to support the shop – launching a new business is never easy.

Just before I left the bookstore, Humberto Chávez also pointed out some of the magnificent clocks he has collected over the years. How timely, I thought, Merida needs this type of bookstore, and a man who collects clocks has opened it.

Humberto Cavez in Ancora EE - the newest book store in town
Humberto Chavez in Ancora EE – the newest book store in town

Standoff at the O.K. Corral

On facebook, you’ve all seen those cute videos of different animal species who are happy in each other’s company – rabbits and dogs, deer and goats, kittens and a duck – and even dogs and tigers.

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Four days ago, “Simon”, a cute-looking beige kitten moved into our house, but he is NOT going to be in any of those productions. He seems terrified of “Andres”, our sweet-tempered corgi.

Andres is willing to make friends but Simon is totally against the idea. Both are rescue animals with issues and I have limited experience with animals.  For 12 years we had a cat and after he died, I did not want another pet.

However when I found out that the neighbors in the rental house across the street were moving and wanted to leave their dog behind, my daughter Maggie and I took him in. He stays part time in both our houses and has been a happy little fellow for three years now.  We want Simon to be just as content and well-adjusted but so far, he doesn’t seem to want that. I would ask Maggie to keep Andres at her house while Simon settles in, but she is away.

simon 1

He is OK if I am alone with him. On the second day he let me hold and rock him in the chair. I had Andres closed-up in a bedroom, but the door somehow opened and he came trotting up to the chair, sniffing and wagging his tail. As soon as the cat laid eyes on him, he scratched and bit me until I let him go.

Today when I went to buy dog and cat food from the vet, he asked what had happened to my hand. “New cat,” I told him.

You had better go have a tetanus shot,” he advised. My friend who saw the scratches and bites yesterday had said the same thing. So, off Jorge and I went to the Seguro Social. Two hours later, we came out of there with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory pills and a cotton swab covering the place on my arm where I got the vaccination.

The other thing I got at the IMSS was a tooth brush. I thanked the doctor and she leaned over to ask me, “We also give out free condoms: do you need any?” Jorge looked a bit startled – I just shook my head.

OK – I’ve  had lots of excitement since Simon came to live with us. Now all I need to know is how to help him be more sociable. Does anyone have any ideas?

The Twilight Zone

As a kid did you watch The Twilight Zone? Created by Rod Serling, many say the show made them fans of fantasy, science fiction, suspense and psychological thriller genres.

My parents decreed the macabre story lines “not good for children”. They didn’t allow me to watch , but I sometimes got around their ban by staying at Granny’s house. She went to sleep early and let me watch TV by myself. I guess she thought I would not be interested in such programs.

I’d cover myself with a couple of quilts, turn the volume way down and wait to hear the eerie music, followed by a deep baritone warning me:

“You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

Those words used to scare me out of my mind, but I always watched the episode till the end – that’s where the clever plot twist and the moral of the story would be revealed.

My dad thought crime dramas like Perry Mason, Dragnet and The FBI were tame enough for me. He was good at unraveling the plot, and taught me how to figure out which character seemed superfluous – he or she was usually the guilty party.

Dark Shadows, a creepy soap opera that jumped between different historical periods fascinated me. I always tried to get home from school by 4 pm, just as it started.

“Ghost stories”, “murder mysteries” and “adventures” – Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, Dracula and 1001 Arabian Nights – were books I read as a child. As a young adult, my reading and viewing tastes changed. I became interested in women’s and world issues and biographies. But yes – I continued to enjoy whodunits , science fiction and espionage novels.

Nowadays, I love to read about art, travel, diverse cultures, personal development and spirituality. Quite frankly, I shut out the craziness whenever I can.

Nonetheless this is not always possible – no one believed Brexit would happen but it did. The racially-motivated killings and religous extremist attacks are way out of control, and the huge gap between those-that-have-way-too-much and those-that-have-not-nearly-enough is broader and wider than I ever believed it could get.  Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are slugging it out for leadership of the planet’s (yet) most powerful country.

Pick up any world history book and read about the events before 1939. Have we somehow teleported back to that time? It is as though we’ve entered the Twilight Zone. We need to give careful thought to the multiple issues goose-stepping us ever-closer to a calamity that we can’t even imagine.

I have dual Mexican / Canadian citizenship. I cannot vote in the American election. However my life will be impacted by it.  If you are a US citizen, and are not registered to vote, find out how to do so at this website:

Anyone who has met me knows who I hope you’ll support. But as long as there is a large turnout, I have faith that the “right” candidate will win.

Voter turnout is key.


Writing and Intercultural Living…


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