Hello Latinitas. It is a pleasure to join you on this fabulous network of idea sharing. In this first of a series of blogs, I plan on sharing my personal experiences – hopefully insightful – in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. To begin, I will share a little about my background as a Latina. I was actually born here in Merida; almost all of my family is from this lovely colonial city. It is the capital of the state of Yucatan. Founded in 1542 by a conquistador, Merida was built on the site of the Maya city of Tho. The conquistadores found the Maya to be incredibly resilient, and cultural marks such as dress and language can be found all over the city. Today, Merida is a popular tourist destination and a booming, beautiful place to live in Mexico with over one million residents and growing. I feel truly lucky to have been born in such a culturally rich and ecologically diverse place. The flora and fauna here are spectacular; jaguars in the forest? Yes, they are there. You have to travel a little ways away from the city to see these though, no worries.
Thus, I am Yucateca – a female from Yucatan. This is how I identify myself though I openly admit to being ‘Americanized’ (having lived in the U.S. for a large amount of time). I will eternally be grateful for my parents’ efforts, however, to teach me both English and Spanish and to insist on retaining both throughout. This may be the single greatest gift I have ever received. Ok, so why am I here with grandparents and cousins and not spending the holidays with my loving parents and siblings back home in Florida? The reason is that I am doing fieldwork for my Master’s thesis nearby. I figured I could spend time with family while studying; similar to ‘killing two birds with one stone’ you could say. Why not? Here I am taking in the wonderful Merida weather (it is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nearly ‘cold’ to many residents), loving my precious time with family, and studying sustainable development in the Yucatan to complete grad school requirements. As one of the most culturally rich and biologically diverse regions of Latin America, southern Mexico is seeing an exponential amount of efforts towards sustainable development. The main aim is to conserve nature while offering economic opportunities for peoples in poverty typically on the margin of the city areas. I will talk more about this very interesting activity – nature and culture – in the next blogs. This is me, Nashielly, your fellow Latinita in Yucatan signing off for now.