Merida in 5 Days Watercolour Artists Rendezvous

This is Carolina Weiss

On New Years Day 1991, Carolina and her husband, Raymond crossed the border into Mexico, and after 70 miles of driving, they reached Ensenada… sighed happily… and continued south. They traveled for a much longer time than anyone else I’ve ever known.  A dog-eared copy of  “The Hidden Beaches of  Mexico” was their guide, and a small travel trailer, their home. Carolina and Raymond stayed in a host of seaside towns and camped along the coast, until they arrived at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Carolina says the beauty of those secluded hide-aways made her more attentive to colour, texture and composition; and eventually she thought she might like to try painting what she saw. “Painting fills my heart,” she says, “and I like plein-air painting because it encourages me to be fully conscious; it is like meditating.”

Meditating with a paintbrush in hand, I’d add.

A while after reaching the Isthmus, the couple drove towards the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Playa del Carmen became home until friends told them about Bacalar, a combined fresh/salt water lagoon, close to the Mexico-Belize border. When Carolina saw that the water had the same crystalline colour and clarity as the Caribbean, she and her husband bought a small house on the shore of the Bacalar Lagoon. I did not know Caroline during the years she and Raymond lived in Bacalar, but from what I’ve been told, everyone considered her their friend.

Raymond died in 1999, and Carolina was faced with not only with the grief, but also the huge question of whether she should sell or stay put. She opted to open a guest house in the home she had shared with Raymond in Bacalar. “Casa Carolina” was always full whenever I wanted to reserve there, but I’ve heard that guests felt like favourite family members while staying with Carolina.

And in the fall of that year, Carolina and three friends signed up for a water colour retreat in Colorado, where they painted the aspens. She enjoyed the bracing fall air and she loved the energy of the group. “If I do a workshop like this, but in Bacalar during the winter, will you all come?” “Oh yes!” they said and her annual Watercolour Rendevous began.

For many years, the guest house and the water colour artists’ rendezvous were Carolina’s life; but the responsibility of solely running the business became too much. Carolina owned a small property in Merida as well, and she began spending more time in the capital city of Yucatan. And when she sold “Casa Carolina”, she moved into her sweet little house. She missed Bacalar and her Rendezvous; although she could no longer live there, what was stopping her from continuing with the plein-air art week? Nothing at all, she decided, and that is how we lucky painters from Merida can now enjoy her wonderful event each year.

This will be my third yer, and tomorrow we start… I am so excited and happy. It is one of my year’s highlights. For the rest of the week, I will post a photos and vignettes of our time painting in five of Merida’s inspiring locations.

And on Sunday February 9th, we’ll host a finale fiesta… a party with drinks, snacks, music and of course, we’ll show you the paintings we produce during our Merida in 5 Days Watercolour Artists’ Rendezvous.

Thank you Carolina for this gift…

International Women’s Club of Merida Thank you Fiona… Welcome Connie

The International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) has been an active presence in our city for more than 35 years. Like many women’s clubs all over the world, ours was initially formed so that women could meet and make friendships. Moving to a new country always entails a period of cultural adaptation, and lots of international women living in Merida say the IWC has helped them understand and get through the process.  Many Mexican women also join the IWC… for the most part they have lived or studied in the USA or Canada, and when they return to Merida, they look for opportunities to practice their English. And as the women help one other, they also help the community in many ways:.

  • Some members tutor students in English, at city schools and at the Merida English Library.
  • Others knit warm caps, hand out activity books, and raise money to pay for medicines needed by the Children’s Cancer Hospital.
  • The group supports a small medical dispensary in the village of Baca…
  • And an afterschool program for young girls at “Nueva Vida”, in the southern part of the city.
  • Several members offer their time (and a lot of love) at CAIMEDE, the State of Yucatan’s orphanage.
  • IWC members also help out, and attend, the fund raising events of other altruistic groups in the city… such as animal shelters, the Red Cross, civic improvement groups, and more.
  • However, the majority of the club’s resources go towards their Scholarship Program. Each year, the members fully sponsor three young Yucatecan women by covering all their university costs, books and transportation needs. Over the years, the 30+ scholarship recipients have graduated from Medicine, Law, and from other faculties.

All club members feel that when one woman achieves a university education, the whole family is helped and positively changed for generations to come.

Past and present IWC educational, self improvement and entertainment activities include courses, concerts, exhibits, lectures, day trips and week-long excursions, parties, dances, game nights, workshops and retreats. One member is currently hoping to start a choral group; another urges us to take up Salsa dancing, and yet another is into belly dancing. One afternoon a month, a tea is held, and one morning there is a coffee, at a member’s home. Also once a month, a restaurant breakfast buffet is organized for members and their guests.

A large number of former IWC presidents attended the January General meeting

Needless to say, all this activity requires umpteen hours of organization and follow-up, and the IWC’s five member Board is responsible for all this. Our club has recently completed a stellar two year period with an extremely capable and dedicated Board, led by President Fiona Wilmot. I would venture to say that Fiona made a positive impact on every single member of the club. And now Connie Burke (who served as Secretary on Fiona’s board) will be our new president.

Fiona and Connie
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Scholarship committee chairperson, Claudia Amaro with Celia, one of the current recipients.

We all look forward to Connie’s term. She too is a delightful, positive woman with a great sense of humour, a lot of life experience, wisdom and skills. Her Board is comprised of two women that she worked with while a part of the out-going team: Viviana Ramos and Kiki Molin. New members to Board positions are Joan Ileson-Combee and Roberta Ginsberg.

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Lots of members

The International Women’s Club has a membership of more than 100 women from all over the globe. I for one, have made life-long friends through the IWC. Wherever women live, they need to feel useful and to have other female friends. So if you are feeling a need of some positive companionship and purpose… I urge you to come to a general meeting, held the last Saturday of each month at 9:30 am: The venue is a local college, TTT, located on Calle 57 No. 492, Between 56th & 58th, Centro. You don’t need an invitation, just show up… you’ll feel welcome. Or you can read more about the club at: https://iwcmerida.com/  And if you have any questions, you can leave a message there.

Connie Burke – new iWC President