Hola todo! In my last post I talked about my background and what motivated me to leave behind my somewhat comfortable life and secure, highly paid job in London and move to Mexico. But today I want to tell you more about my first month of living in merida mexico and what I was up to during this time in the unknown city — the discoveries, the experiences, you name it. It’s only been two months since I arrived to Mexico, so every moment is still vivid in my memory!
I’m here to share how embarking on solo travel might feel a bit intimidating initially, but trust me, it’s an empowering journey that lets you reconnect with yourself in a foreign country like no other. It’s about rediscovery, away from the familiar faces of friends and family. Plus, there’s something truly liberating about picking up a new language and dressing exactly the way you want, free from any restrictions or self-judgment. It’s about shedding those little self-imposed limits. Soooo….ready to dive in?
Relaxing in the Azure Beauty of Cancun
When it’s time to take a step back…
You know, sometimes the best way to face a new challenge is to take a step back and see things from a different perspective. We owe it to ourselves to appreciate what we’ve achieved in life and give ourselves a pat on the back. I’m also guilty of not doing that enough, but it’s crucial for seeing the big picture, figuring out what makes us happy, and finding peace.
Life can throw unexpected curveballs — unexpected people or events can happen — and our carefully drafted long-term career and other plans might need a tweak. It’s important not to be afraid of this change, to take that step back, and discover what we truly want. Change is good; it’s necessary. If it’s meant to be, we should let it happen. My big life plans didn’t just get a little tweak; they did a complete 180 the moment I walked away from my full-time job in London.
My step back in Cancun
Soooo, I decided to treat myself to a week of “stepping back” in a fancy hotel in Cancun. The flight was long, exciting, and a bit stressful, with my 28 years compressed into a 20kg suitcase. Heading to the unknown to find my new home in Mérida, I deliberately didn’t research much about it beforehand. I wanted to avoid building up a picture of Mérida in my imagination and fill it with expectations that might leave me confused and disappointed when I arrive and find it to be different.
This was also a week of decompression that I very much needed to shake off the jet lag and enjoy the beautiful shades of the Caribbean sea. And let me tell you, it’s exactly as they say! Vibrant shades of blue all in one view. Waking up to this every day was incredibly relaxing. It made me forget where I was and what I was about to embark on. I spent a week swimming in the warm Caribbean, enjoying the cool white sand, listening to music, reading my books, and eating some great food!
Gosh, I can’t get enough of these colors…
The sea colors brought back memories of the batik sea blue fabric I used in the Aya Mana summer collection. It’s a mix of darker blues and vibrant shades creating a cool tie-dye effect. In Cancun, I felt like a kid again, thrilled by the simple view of the sea and its seven different shades: Columbia, Arctic, Turquoise, Celadon, Pacific Blue, Cerulean, and Teal. Hoping to be back next year for more of this breathtaking experience! Fyi…here is the batik dress I mentioned…
Living in Merida Mexico – The First Month
Walking the Path of Doubt: My Arrival in Mérida, Mexico
When our plans become reality, it’s so easy to fall into the pit of self-doubt. Questions flood our minds, like ‘What have I done? Did I make the wrong decision? Was it worth it?’ That’s exactly how I felt the moment I stepped off the ADO bus in Mérida at Paseo60, just a 30-minute walk from my first Airbnb. The flat I booked for the first month was in Garcia Gineres, a nice-looking area but a bit further from the city center.
I arrived in the evening, in the dark, with pouring rain. The streets were dim and deserted, and I walked with a head full of self-doubt. The streets’ appearance was striking, not because they looked bad, but because they were so, so different from any city in Europe I’d lived in. While they’re enjoyable and exotic to experience on vacation, it’s a whole other story when you’re looking at them with the eyes of someone planning on living in Merida Mexico.
I quickly switched my mindset and started telling myself: it’s ok, it’s fine…if I don’t like it here there are always other cities in Mexico, even Latin America! It doesn’t need to be Merida, this can also be just the first stop before arriving at the final destination!
Spanish Language Challenges and Fashion Freedom
I arrived in Mérida with zero Spanish skills. Sure, I took some classes pre-COVID, but commitment lasted a total of two months max. So, in my first days, my Spanish vocabulary was basically “Hola!” and “¿Cómo estás?” But you know what? Solo travel has this magic. It made me want to be outdoors all the time, and this pushed me to start chatting with everyone. Suddenly, words stuck with me.
But my grammar was definitely lacking and it was bothering me when trying to communicate with people. So I joined a great Spanish school in Mérida, taking lessons twice or three times a week. For anyone looking to do something similar I am happy to share the school because I highly recommend it!
English isn’t my first language either, having lived in England so I have some experience in learning a brand new language from scratch. Surprisingly, speaking a foreign language daily makes me feel more confident than speaking my native tongue in my home country. Weird, right? I think it’s because my accent screams, ‘Not my first language!’ I feel okay making mistakes, not overanalyzing every word. It makes me more at ease and open to conversations. And I think this is why I adopted to the Spanish language so quickly; after two months, I’m able to hold conversations and understand most things people say. I guess it’s one of the perks of wandering to foreign places! 🙂
This language leap spills into our fashion choices too. In a new country, it’s a breeze to break out of your mental fashion box. You stop worrying about judgment or overthinking those extra kilos. You wear what you love because, hey, you don’t know anyone in this exciting new place!
How I escaped the urban loneliness
I always thought that living in a massive metropolis like London, where you’re constantly surrounded by people, can ironically make you feel incredibly lonely…the loneliest actually. I think it boils down to the relentless pace—everyone rushing to work, always on the go. No time to relax, no time to casually get to know others. And I wanted out! I wanted to get away from a place where even ‘socializing’ had to be penciled into our calendars!
In Mérida I found this much easier to do. I mean, imagine! I didn’t have to use the word “socialising” since I got here! Because the act of talking to others and exchanging thoughts is a natural thing and doesn’t always need to be defined and boxed.
What I was up to in my first month in Mérida
In my first week of living in Merida Mexico I joined a cenote tour I found on Facebook. Cenotes are these amazing natural holes filled with groundwater, scattered across the Yucatan. You can swim and have a blast all day. On that tour, I met some fantastic people, and we’re still in touch today! we also visited great Mayan archeological sites like Uxmal and Chichen Itza! It’s a must see if you’re ever in the region!
I also met a few people in my Spanish classes, exploring countless restaurants, beaches, and concerts in the Yucatan together! It’s interesting to get to know people from different countries with different backgrounds, to get to know their way of living and thinking! It helps widen your horizons and look at things from a different perspective!
As I shared in my earlier Aya Mana diary post, I picked up salsa right from week one. Salsa bars in Merida have become my go-to spots, spending 2-3 hours dancing away. It doesn’t matter who your dance partner is—age, origin—it’s about enjoying the dance and music for those 10 minutes, then maybe switching partners or getting a drink. I love it! Thanks to salsa, I’ve met with awesome people, and it’s a great place to make new friends!
The Colorful Side of Living in Merida Mexico
As you’ve probably noticed from my previous posts, I’m obsessed with colors and their magical combinations 🙂 I love the way colors influence our mood, especially when we wear them! That’s what inspired the birth of Aya Mana—to infuse colors into our daily wardrobes and lives.
Merida’s streets are a kaleidoscope of colors, filled with plants and flowers flaunting their vibrant shades. The long rows of stunning colonial houses are painted in colors that might not traditionally pair well, but in this lively setting, they harmonize beautifully, creating an atmosphere bursting with vibrancy.
I live in center of Merida which is where most of the colonial architecture is located. Merida is the safest city in all of Mexico, so you can wander the streets anytime, day or night, without a worry. As I said above, when I arrived I was in a bit of a cultural shock when walking down the streets. But, you know, after a few weeks, the charm grew on me and I was able to appreciate it with new sets of eyes. Now, I can’t picture living anywhere else… at least not for now. Because, well, who knows what the future holds! 🙂
Bye for today
I hope the gist of this article came through fine! In a nutshell I wanted to note down all my thoughts and experience in the past month whilst living in Merida Mexico. Living in a foreign environment and speaking a foreign language can actually be freeing rather than holding back. It’s encouraging and frees us from the fear of making mistakes or judging ourselves. The same way this is true to our clothing habits. In a foreign country where we are strangers, unfamiliar with the local norms, so we feel free from all the restrictions and concerns we draw up ourselves for wearing whatever we want. Nos vemos protno!