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Thursday, March 30, 2023

We hired a chatbot to write a new play about expats in Yucatán. Here it is…

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our best stories will appear in your inbox every Monday.

I’m listening to an absolutely chilling podcast from Alan Alda, who asked a chatbot to write a new scene for “M*A*S*H.” That gave me the idea to order up my own drama about the place where I live.

I commanded the most-talked-about artificial intelligence chatbot to “write a play about expats in Yucatán.” It immediately started typing away, starting with its own original title and a cast of characters, even before the dialogue was contrived.

We did two rounds.

Here’s what ChatGPT first came up with in about 10 seconds.

Title: Yucatán Expat Dreams

Cast of Characters:

  • Tom, a retired American expat in his 60s
  • Maria, a Mexican housekeeper in her 50s
  • John, a British expat in his 50s
  • Emily, a Canadian expat in her 40s
  • Pablo, a Mexican bartender in his 30s

Act 1, Scene 1: The Living Room

Tom sits on a comfortable couch, reading a book. Maria walks in carrying a tray with drinks.

Maria: Mr. Tom, would you like some fresh juice?

Tom: Yes, please. Thank you, Maria.

Maria: How do you like living in Yucatán, Mr. Tom?

Tom: Oh, I love it here. The weather is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the food is amazing.

Maria: (smiling) Yes, the Yucatecan cuisine is very delicious.

Tom: How long have you worked for me, Maria?

Maria: Five years, sir.

Tom: You’re a wonderful housekeeper. I couldn’t imagine living here without you.

Maria: Thank you, sir. I appreciate your kind words.

(John and Emily walk in)

John: Hey, Tom. How are you?

Tom: John, Emily, good to see you both.

Emily: (to Maria) Hola, Maria. ¿Cómo estás?

Maria: Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y ustedes?

John: (laughs) Sorry, Maria. Our Spanish is not very good.

Emily: (to Tom) We went to the beach today. It was beautiful.

Tom: That sounds lovely. I should have joined you.

John: You should have. Maybe next time.

Act 1, Scene 2: The Bar

John, Emily, and Tom are sitting at the bar, chatting with Pablo.

Pablo: Hey, amigos. What can I get you?

Tom: A margarita for me, please.

Emily: I’ll have a piña colada.

John: I’ll stick with beer.

Pablo: (smiling) Good choices.

John: Pablo, have you noticed more expats moving to Yucatán lately?

Pablo: Yes, it’s been happening for a few years now. More and more foreigners are discovering this place.

Emily: It’s easy to see why. The climate is perfect, and the cost of living is affordable.

Tom: And the people are so friendly.

Pablo: That’s true. We’re happy to have you here.

John: How do you feel about all the changes happening in Yucatán?

Pablo: It’s a mixed bag, really. On one hand, it’s great for the economy. But on the other hand, some people worry that the local culture and traditions might be lost.

Emily: That’s a valid concern.

Tom: It’s up to us to respect the local culture and contribute positively to the community.

Pablo: (nodding) Exactly. And I think most expats here do just that.

Act 2, Scene 1: The Marketplace

John and Emily are browsing at a local marketplace. Maria is with them, helping them with their Spanish.

John: How do you say “How much does this cost?”

Maria: ¿Cuánto cuesta esto?

Emily: Gracias, Maria. You’re a great help.

Maria: De nada, señora.

(They come across a vendor selling traditional Yucatecan clothing)

Emily: These dresses are so beautiful. I might get one for my daughter.

Vendor: ¿Le gusta este vestido, señora?

Emily: Sí, es muy bonito. ¿Cuánto cuesta?

The end.

So I commanded the same thing one more time. The result had characters that were slightly more layered. And a new title.

Yucatán Dreaming


  • JEN, an American expat in her 40s, who moved to Yucatán with her husband to escape their mundane life in the US.
  • LUIS, a local Yucatecan man in his 30s who works as a tour guide and becomes Jen’s friend.
  • MIKE, Jen’s husband in his 50s who is struggling to adapt to life in Yucatán.
  • KAREN, a British expat in her 60s who is retired and enjoys the laid-back lifestyle of Yucatán.

Setting: A small town in Yucatán, Mexico.

Act I:

Scene 1:

(Jen is sitting in a café, sipping coffee. Luis enters the café and greets her)

Luis: Hola, Jen! How are you today?

Jen: Hi, Luis! I’m good, thanks. How about you?

Luis: I’m doing great. How are you liking Yucatán so far?

Jen: It’s amazing! The weather, the food, the people, everything is so different from what we’re used to in the US.

Luis: Yes, Yucatán is a very special place. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

Scene 2:

(Mike enters the café and joins Jen and Luis at the table)

Mike: Hey, guys. What’s going on?

Jen: Luis was just telling me about some cool places we should check out in Yucatán.

Mike: (sighs) I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I miss home.

Jen: Mike, we talked about this. We wanted something different from our life in the US. We can’t just give up now.

Mike: I know, but everything is so different here. I don’t understand the language, I don’t like the food, and I don’t feel comfortable around these people.

Luis: Mike, give it some time. Yucatecans are very friendly and welcoming. You just need to get to know them.

Mike: (nods reluctantly) I’ll try.

Scene 3:

(Karen enters the café and joins the group)

Karen: Hola, amigos! How’s everyone doing today?

Jen: Hey, Karen! We’re good. Just trying to convince Mike that Yucatán isn’t so bad after all.

Karen: (laughs) I know how he feels. It took me a while to get used to the slower pace of life here, but now I love it.

Mike: (skeptical) You do?

Karen: Absolutely! I’ve never been happier since I retired and moved to Yucatán. The people are so friendly, the weather is beautiful, and the food is delicious.

Act II:

Scene 1:

(Jen, Mike, Luis, and Karen are at a local market)

Jen: (excitedly) Oh, look at these beautiful handmade bags! I have to get one.

Luis: (smiling) Let me help you negotiate with the vendor. They always start with a high price for tourists.

Mike: (grumpily) Can we please just get this over with? I’m hot and tired.

Karen: (rolls her eyes) Mike, you need to relax and enjoy the experience. We’re not in a rush.

Scene 2:

(The group is at a local restaurant, trying Yucatecan cuisine)

Jen: (savoring her food) This is delicious! I never knew Mexican food could be so different from what we have in the US.

Luis: (proudly) Yucatecan cuisine is a…

And that’s where it ended. I suppose I need a paid account to produce a full three-act play.

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