We met Sylvia Sanchéz at a cocktail party hosted around the corner from her house in the Centro. Sylvia was so charming and poised, and had such positive energy, never at a loss for something interesting to say. Naturally, we were taken with her. Eventually, it occurred to us that she would be a terrific subject for an interview. So we asked her a few questions.
So tell us about yourself! You’re not originally from Mérida, are you?
I was born in Mexico City, like my two brothers. My parents are from Guanajuato and the family in general is from the center of Mexico. We moved to the south — Mérida — a long time ago when I was a child, and stayed here.
I remember Mérida being completely different: people sleeping in hammocks with the main front door open, super quiet weeks, and even more quiet on weekends. I grew up and studied in Mérida where I graduated, getting my degree in architecture at 23.
Right now, I live in the Centro, which I love with all my soul and I am really making a big effort to stay here. I don’t need to go too far to get anything and I know all my neighbors, who I find adorable, and this would be unusual in other neighborhoods. I’ve been in the Centro for close to 18 years and I love it.
Are you an architect or a property manager, or both? It seems a lot of people do multiple careers here in Yucatán.
I guess people try to do what they love and I guess you might not just love one thing but many different things, so yes multiple careers in Mérida is what you can find a lot!
I am an architect with also a diploma in interior design. I became a property manager while studying architecture. Everything in my life came at the right time and becoming a property manager was not the exception. When I was around 19 years old, my neighbors from San Francisco, California, across the street, asked me to help them to take care of their garden and I accepted. They were paying me well and I enjoyed being a gardener for a couple of years. I think I still love it so much that I would love to get a masters degree in landscape design.
[ Slide Show: A glimpse of Sylvia Sanchéz’s portfolio ]
These guys realized that I loved my job and recommended me to someone and that person recommended me to someone else and then before I realized it, I had a list of clients who wanted to have me not really as a gardener but as a manager. Then I became a property manager. I was using that money to finish to pay my student loans.
I am always very intense and passionate with what I do. And I love to commit to everything and every person who requires my services.
Did you always want to be an architect?
I remember I wanted to be an architect since I was 10 years old and then, at 12, I also wanted to become a high-fashion model, but I knew I would have had to leave my country and family for that, so I decided to stay and become and architect.
You mentioned something online about being a carpenter. Are you doing carpentry?
Yes, I am doing carpentry at home and I plan to go to school to get a degree in that, but right now I am just doing it on my own and experimenting. It is absolutely lovely and interesting, I love wood as my first favorite natural material!
A little more personal: Who inspires you, either in today’s world or in the past? How do you maintain your positive attitude?
To be honest, everything in life inspires me so much in many ways. Nature makes me absolutely crazy. It is the perfection of the world in every single way. My parents inspire me a lot. They are two incredible doctors and good friends to me. My clients inspire me enormously. They are my mentors, teachers and why I became who I am. Love inspires me and moves me a lot. The universe, a little star, the sunsets and good friends!
In general, love for things and people inspires me and makes me feel fortunate.
Where do you fit in? Do you think of yourself as a Yucatecan or a Meridano? Or do you identify more with Mexico City, or as an “expat” in some way? I ask because Yucatán Expat has a surprising number of followers from the DF.
This is funny because I have all my life I have lived in Mérida, but people from here always ask me the same question over and over: “you are not from here, right?” Hahahahaha! I can’t avoid that question, but then I ask them “does it count that I have almost 20 years living here?” and then they laugh! When I go to my lovely Mexico City is a bit of the same, so I realize that I do feel a bit like an expat in some way. Hahahaha!
Describe your day. Do you rise early? Are your days long?
My days are really long. I wake up during the week around 5:30 a.m. to start my day and I love to see the sunrise. It is absolutely magical and it gives me all the energy I need to continue. I work more than 8 hours a day and finish to look at the sunset, which I love to photograph too.
During the weekends I do other activities including the photography. I always have to be doing something different and if possible productive or I feel I waisted my day (I don’t have tv at home).
Does being a young female impact the way you do business in Yucatán? Do you feel you’re treated differently than a man would be?
I definitely feel it has a huge impact on young, committed women. I feel people didn’t believe in me at the beginning. I was not treated seriously, but that has changed now. People who really know me and love me know what I am really able to do.
I know you live and work right in the Centro. What’s the best thing about living here, and what’s the one thing you would change about it if you could?
Most of my time is in Centro but I also work in a beautiful private hacienda, which demands a lot of my time.
I love that the Centro is a community and I know most of my neighbors on our street, other streets and even other areas in the Centro and it’s just nice! I would definitely change “the bus service.” Hahahahaha! In general, it is very nice to live here.
I would love to have Centro just for bikes and no cars! Hahahahaha!
And finally, what advice do you have for people from north of the border to integrate with and befriend people in the Yucatecan community?
I think that people from the North and other areas already realize about how happy we are living in Centro and because of this, they try to come more to the cultural activities around. After all, you can’t get those cultural activities in other areas, just in Centro and that’s also why we are lucky!
So what does the future hold for you, Sylvia?
I always try to have clear in my mind what I love and what I want for me in the future; however, the future is very unexpected. I would love to keep doing architecture-interiors design, photography and now more traveling around the world, but if for some reason in life something else finds me (or I find) and I love, then I don’t see why I should not start something new. I always try to be flexible in life, it’s the best way!
[ Slide Show: A glimpse of Sylvia Sanchéz’s portfolio ]