Catalans Abroad

Josep Ligorred Perramon

Merida (Mexico)

Catalan heart, Mayan soul

Josep Ligorred Perramon is from Osona. He moved to Yucatán, Mexico, 27 years ago to work in the promotion and conservation of the Mayan heritage
Why did you leave Catalonia?
I learnt to read with a book about dinosaurs. I've always been fascinated with ancient history, archeology and nature. I grew up in Osona, visiting the Montseny, Guilleries and Collsacabra, digging under the “Sacrifice Stone” at Savassona and classifying pieces of ceramic at the Museu Episcopal de Vic. In 1980, I visited the ancient ruins in Mexico for the first time: Teotihuacán and Tula; Monte Albán and Mitla; Uxmal, Chichén Itzà and Tulum. Two years later, I went to Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. Then, in 1983, I decided to study archaeology in Mexico City. I will be always grateful to my parents for their support. I was only 18 and I was studying in a great university, the ENAH.
Why did you choose Mérida?
At the end of my first year in Mexico, a group of students had the opportunity to take part in the excavations of the Yaxchilán ruins, an ancient Mayan port in Chiapas. There I fell in love with the Mayan culture. A year later, I moved to Yucatán's capital city: Mérida. Here the Mayan culture has been alive for centuries, in cities and towns, where the families, although discriminated against, keep the Mayan language and heritage alive. Besides that, I could say that nature, wife, son and friends played a role in my choice.
How long have you lived there?
Five years in Mexico City and 27 in Mérida.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?
Absolutely. I'd say I'm a privileged guy. I love my job and I get paid for it!
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
The quality of life in Mérida and Yucatán is excellent. As a Catalan, I still find things to do and I always have a hundred projects in my life and a few ongoing. And the place and its people are fantastic.
What would you most like to change?
I'd like to see a fairer society here, a more human one. Mayan people have been facing cultural domination and discrimination for centuries, and they have a lot to offer to the world. I'd love to see their rights and their identity recognised, as every other native people in America and around the world.
What do you miss most from home?
Family, friends, neighbours... and the Festa Major! A slice of fuet and a glass of ratafia. And vermut and calamars a la romana at Bar Perramon, in Manlleu.
 What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit to Mérida for the first time?
Anyone who visits Yucatán for the first time must walk the streets of Mérida, visit the old and new Mayan towns, enjoy a cenote and swim in the Caribbean Sea.
 And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
Then it's worth paying a visit to Campeche state. Its capital is a walled city with a small historic centre that is a World Heritage Site. I'd also suggest visiting the Mayan city of Edzná and the Seven Colours Lake. Few tourists go there.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
I go back very often, to visit family and friends, but I'm well established here. On the other hand, I follow closely what is going on in Catalonia, historically and socially, it's a very exiting moment.
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