For the Quintero Reina family, Mérida was a hot spot on Google Maps, from where they were amazed by the city, its social life, and the security it projected. Upon further investigation, they soon decided to make it their home.
What began as a teenage love is today a consolidated dream of entrepreneurship, which led Yessica Reina and Jhonny Quintero to “leave everything” that they already had insurance in Canada to move to Mérida, Yucatán .
The Colombian couple, who saw the birth of their three small children in the North American country; He did not think much about it before having to pack his bags and embark on a trip full of illusions, not a little uncertainty, but with great determination to live an adventure that lasted 25 days on the road before reaching his destination: Mérida.
In this city, described as one of the safest in Latin America, the Quintero Reina family has been writing a new story for just over three months that they share in an interview with the newspaper, where the question that was constantly repeated in the video of Jessica’s TikTok; that reached more than a million reproductions, when he told his decision: Why?
And it seems that Canada, as several stories of this short video application show, is now the new “American dream” of Hispanics, by offering competitive salaries and job or entrepreneurship opportunities; so “madness” is one of the words that was repeated in the hundreds of comments that the Quintero Reina received.
A story of migrants: from Colombia to Canada
To explain it better, the couple shares that their history as immigrants began at the age of 15 in the case of Yessica, who, together with her mother and brothers, left her native Colombia to start a new life in Canada, which separated her from her boyfriend Johnny.
Four years after the move, social networks achieved a reunion of the couple in Colombia; for them, everything went so fast that in a short time Johnny was already migrating to Canada with his now-wife.
Like any young couple, the work to obtain their assets when starting their family must have been constant, but in a few years, they managed to buy their house through their entrepreneurship: online sales.
“She had her job there, I eventually got a job and then we started our businesses together. We began to get into all the personal finance issues, how to manage them and invest our money. We started to work hard on it and it went well for us,” shares Quintero.
However, like many others, the Covid-19 pandemic touched the dynamics and changed their perspective “on life”.
“We had not been out for two years (due to the pandemic). Anyway, the atmosphere in Canada is a bit cold and lonely. We were all the time from home to work and vice versa. There is very little social life, and suddenly everything started to get expensive, expensive”.
Mérida: a ‘hot’ spot on Google Maps
Initially, Mérida was not the destination, but through a friend, they discovered the paradise of the Mayan Rivera, for which they had set the course of a new adventure towards Puerto Morelos, but -as well as in finances- Jhonny decided to investigate, read about the costs of living in the region, as well as security and other issues that mattered to him not only as an entrepreneur but also as a father.
And it is that for the couple, more than a carefree life or full of wealth, today their main reason to continue working is to provide quality of life to their children, being their engines not to give up. Precisely that led Johnny to move the Google Maps cursor to other regions near Quintana Roo and by enlarging the map he discovered Mérida, a city that he described as warm.
Once the route had been traced, they decided that if they were willing to leave everything behind, at least they would fully enjoy their trip, so they put their things and their children in the car and set out on the road, which Yessica documented on the video to share on networks social.
An experience that, she admits, was not easy as her children were so young and that did not become something easy to deal with when sharing her story on social networks, Internet users received her with a wave of criticism about why they had abandoned a country that presumably offered a better future for their children.
“Suddenly they are people (those who criticize) who have not traveled abroad, who have not lived in another country. They don’t know how hard it is to also live in another country. Because living in Canada and the United States is good in terms of the part that you work and earn well, but in others, it is not so good, because the food is not so good there, the culture is a bit cold compared to the Latin, the same as the weather.
What makes Merida so ”warm”?
In the short time they have lived in Mérida, in addition to experiencing the gastronomy of the region, they have also managed to integrate into the community and receive the warmth of the people around them, not only from Yucatecans , but from the Colombians themselves who have decided take root in the entity that promises them development opportunities. Their neighbors, they say, are mostly foreigners or nationals (from Mexico City, Veracruz, etc…) who decided to start a business in Yucatan.
For Jhonny, learning from his wife that the key to abundance lies in sharing was an important piece to grow their business plan that today allows them to generate income in dollars, while their expenses are made in pesos; being a strategy that they have decided to share on social networks through YouTube and TikTok.
They want these platforms to help young couples like them to better manage their finances and demonstrate that, while today many choose not to get married, much less have children; there are families who struggle every day and couples – like them – for whom children have been a constant opportunity to adventure.
And it is that they are still not sure if they will take root in Merida, although for now they are enjoying the good reception they have had, although when questioned about the mistrust of some Yucatecans for migrants, especially at a time when they go out to the light of several complaints by extortion mafias such as the well-known cases of “drop by drop” loans; Quintero admits that he had the experience of being stopped solely by his accent.
He says that at a checkpoint, when he was returning from Cancun where he received his mother -who is visiting; the police asked him to inspect his vehicle, only recognizing his Colombian accent. However, he says that the officers were never rude and that, on the contrary, they explained to him that his countrymen were doing bad things and that they simply had to comply with those protocols.
Although they admitted not being aware of these issues in Mérida; Yessica asks Yucatecans and Mexicans to be open to meeting people, and not pigeonhole everyone into the same situation.
“I think that sometimes people, in this case Colombians, are not aware of the skills they can develop, so I would ask them to motivate themselves to change, to know that things can be done without doing anything wrong.”
Yessica Reina can be found by name through Instagram and her YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdd0JmOpIQi8mtTNXYvSEyg) where she shares her daily life as a mother of three children, a migrant, and now a resident of Merida discovering Yucatan.