Saturday, March 20, 2010



As you may already know from a previous post of mine, Merida has no sewer system. Likewise, there is no water drainage/collection system in place except for a rather primitive drainage system that merely acts as a temporary holding tank for runoff water until it seeps into the ground, filtered through the limestone that Merida is built upon, and eventually winding up in the aquifer (water table). A simple system that provides an acceptable level of efficiency except when there are heavy rains.

Because there is no water drainage/collection system, the streets often flood during a heavy downpour making it difficult for traffic and pedestrians alike. To help alleviate the problem, the Government has dug miniature holding tanks adjacent to the curbs of many of Merida’s streets. They are covered with heavy-duty metal grids to allow easy passage of water, to be stored and eventually drained into the aquifer. Actually, this works well and definitely helps clear the streets of excess water. These mini-wells also collect tons of debris and often get clogged preventing the natural seepage of the water, and this creates another problem. They require periodic cleaning and there is a crew of workers that do nothing but go from one to another, removing the grids, and shoveling out the “garbage” that has collected. Not a pretty sight or smell!

The other problem with this system is the construction of the actual drains themselves. They are dug to varying depths, but most seem to be about one meter, or just over three feet deep. They come in various lengths, depending on the amount of drainage required for the particular street. Some streets have none, while others have several. Because of where they are located, the drains with their heavy-duty grids are subject to traffic. In most cases it is close to impossible to not drive over one of these grids. The traffic in town includes hundreds of busses and big trucks over-loaded with building materials, and constant automobile traffic. Eventually these grids give way and must be repaired. Some have undergone numerous repairs and still become serious road hazards. I have seen some of these grids completely bent in two, resembling the smile on a smiley face. The neatly dug holes sometimes give way and begin to cave in, and this too requires the attention of the maintenance team.

One of my biggest concerns is what is actually seeping into the aquifer, the primary source of Merida’s water supply for homes and businesses. Let it suffice to say that the streets of Merida, or any other city in the world, are dirty. They become like sheets of ice during a light rain because of all the oil spillage and exhaust debris from the big trucks and busses. You can see oil-slick-rainbows form in the streets and run off to the drains, to be eventually washed into the aquifer. Basically, anything that hits the street will eventually wind up in the water table. Not a pretty thought!

I have posted some pictures for you to look at to see exactly what I am speaking of when it comes to these drains. I must reiterate that while they are somewhat primitive and have their bad points, they definitely help alleviate street flooding. The city of Merida, founded in 1542, is almost 500 years old, and there is no way to install a sewer or drainage system short of tearing the city down and starting from scratch. Given the very few options the Government has, I think they have done a good job with what they have to work with.

I just hope we don’t get too many heavy down pours!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010



Of the patron saints of Ireland, St. Patrick is by far, the best known Saint and enjoys world-wide recognition. Historically, he is best remembered for driving the snakes out of Ireland! Myth or legend – who knows for sure! It is a fact though that there are no snakes in Ireland today!

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated internationally on the seventeenth of March. This is a religious feast day and the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.


It is an interesting story on how this celebration reached the shores of the US and Canada. It all started with the Irish immigrants in the 1800’s, who left Ireland by the tens of thousands to escape famine resulting from the great potato crop failure. Initially chastised for their looks and strange accents, it was difficult going for them, even in the US. They could fill only menial jobs, but soon realized there was strength in numbers, and soon these Irish-Americans became politically influential. They celebrated their Patron Saint on March 17 with parades, parties, and lots of good cheer, and of course – a pint or two of beer! This celebration and the wearing of the green caught on with everyone and the celebrations continue today, every March 17.

New York City holds probably the biggest and grandest parade of them all, and the City of Chicago actually dyes their river green in honor of Saint Patrick! Restaurants and bars throughout the US, Canada, and many other parts of the world celebrate with the traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage and often will offer a free beer to those patrons wearing green! Green beer is popular, if only for the day, and breweries oblige the patrons with special kegs and bottling efforts. The wearing of the green is another favorite tradition celebrated by all. I’ve seen women, and men too, with green hair, green skin, and matching colors for their mascots. It isn’t unusual to find lots of green tongues hanging around the pubs and other watering holes! Irish music often adds a flare of excitement, and inevitably, some brave heart will dance an authentic Irish jig! When that happens, it is easy to tell who has had too many pints of green beer!

I love St. Patrick’s Day, and always have. I’m Irish, Scotch and English on my mother’s side and we always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and I always wore something green on that day, and continue to do so, and always will! Some day, I’d like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, on The Emerald Isle itself!

Here’s hoping you get into the spirit of the day this 17th , and remember – you don’t have to be Irish! Here's an old Irish toast from me to you:


As they say in Ireland, “ERIN GO BRAGH”! For those of you who do not speak Gaelic, that means “IRELAND FOREVER”! Cheers!

GREEN BEER TIP FROM MERIDA MIKEY: You can enjoy your favorite beer, or other beverage of choice, in emerald green by simply dipping a plastic swirl stick into a bottle of green food coloring and then stirring your drink! Poof! Instant green beer for all the lads and lassies!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I’m slightly hesitant to post this, as the requirements seem to change quite frequently. I’m not so sure that the actual laws change that often, but the interpretation of the laws certainly seem to!

I first got my FM-3 (document for “Rentista” status) in 1995. I won’t even begin to tell you all the paperwork I needed to pass Immigration’s standards, but let it suffice to say that it was a myriad of paperwork with numerous copies thereof and lots of hoops to jump through.

Here it is 15 years later, and I am on my fifth and final year of renewing my FM-2 (document for Residente status). Previous years were actually relatively simple and without complications. This year, it took me almost one full month. The usual “norm”, if there is such a thing, is around two weeks. Next year, I have an option of permanent resident or citizenship and am weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each.

This year, I asked the receptionist if they had a checklist for someone wanting to establish “Rentista” status for the first time. Much to my surprise, she said yes, and actually gave me a printed list of the requirements to obtain, or renew, an FM-3. I am relaying those requirements to you with a caveat that they are subject to change and subject to various interpretations.

1. You must present a letter, preferably typed, but definitely written in Spanish, requesting resident status, FM-3.

2. Original and one copy of your passport to include all pages, front and back.

3. Original and one copy of your current entry visa, not expired!

4. The past three months worth of bank statements to prove solvency. The current figure being used is $1,000 US per person, per month. This is the minimum income you must prove you have coming in.

5. You must pay, at a bank, 491 pesos for review of your application. Immigration will provide the form.

6. You must pay, at a bank, 1,294 pesos, when your FM-3 is ready. Immigration will provide the form.

7. You will also need photographs, passport size, as directed by immigration, but this is NOT shown on their checklist! Trust me though, you will need them!

Immigration also advises that all photo copies you present must be legible.

From personal experience, I would recommend a certified copy of your birth certificate.

As recent as a few weeks ago, a gentleman and his wife told me they were required to bring a letter from their doctor in the US stating they were free of venereal and any other communicable disease. I had to do this 15 years ago, also. In addition, they were requested to bring a letter from their State Officials proving that they had no outstanding felony warrants and did not have a police record. Once again, I had to do the same 15 years ago also!

Some people opt to have an attorney handle the paperwork for them. The fee for doing so varies, but expect to pay up to 5,000 pesos . Some attorneys charge less, while others charge more! This can be done on your own, as I have done for 15 years now.

Patience is all you really need.