A town with many faces; Merida, Mexico

The 30th of July, 2015

It is hot here in Merida in the summer. I like to take the bus end of the day into town and enjoy all the festivities, organized to keep the locals, as well as the tourists happy. Every evening, there are performances. They change from park to park, but all on walking distance from the historical centre. Tonight, the “Serenata Yucateca” takes place in Parque Santa Lucia. I am early, as first I just want to stroll around the Plaza Grande, where so many people are gathering at this time of the evening. It has wi-fi, so many are sitting on the benches, focussing on their phones. Children are feeding the doves and many vendors are trying to sell something, not only to foreigners from abroad, but also to Mexicans from other cities, who are here on holiday. I am walking with my camera, ready to snap a shot, as so much is going on here in the Plaza. Later, I sit down for a drink, but get attacked by the sales people. Next time, I will not sit on a terrace at the Plaza Grande at this time a day!  I go with the flow to the park and it is packed with people. On the other side of the street, there is the St. Lucia church and at the side of the church people are enjoying a barbecue meal. I wonder if everybody can join that meal, after paying.DSC00568                    DSC00564

Most came early to get a seat at the front, but I am standing at the back on an elevation, to try to take at least one picture of the orchestra. A Mexican starts a conversation with me. I am alert. Finally, the music starts, but after the first tunes, they change it into poetry. By that time, the Mexican man wants to know if I have children and how many and tells me he never married and he doesn’t have children. That’s the moment I realize I didn’t eat yet and I swiftly disappear into the crowd. The poetry is still going on and I decide to hop in the first eatery, before I will faint. The restaurant is great, as there are only Mexicans, which means it has a local menu. These weeks, I want to try as much as possible, from the Mexican / Yucatan menu. My waiter is very helpful and patient. I ask him about the local beer and he also helps me to choose from the menu, as everything is a ? for me. He kindly warns me that the two separate bowls with sauces are quite “picante”…..well, I am used to the Indonesian Sambal, but these sauces are HOT! I enjoy my meal with chicken and my SOL beer and the price is not even US$7. By the time I leave the restaurant, it is already 10.30 p.m. and the last bus goes around 11.00. This time I catch a minibus; it is the same price, but you can get seasick! Everybody is squeezed together and they go fast and it is a pretty bumpy ride! I had to watch where to get out, as everybody seemed to be going way up north. I was the only one, who had to call “STOP”!!!DSC00553

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The 31st of July, 2015

At time of my arrival in Merida, I met a friend of the family, Liz. We immediately got along fine. Liz asks me, if i would like to go with her to one of the many Flea Markets in the city. I never say NO to a flea market. I LOVE markets in general. We drive in the morning to a total different part of the city, to Plaza Esperanza. Wow, it is huge…..mainly clothing, handbags, some shoes, toys and no, no antiques. You really have to start searching, as you can find some brand name clothing for a bargain. I just like to see how popular these markets are and how much fun it is, although the heat is intense under the covers, with so many overheated people…….Finally, we buy a fresh juice from a vendor, we sit down at an eatery right on the market and order sopes (type of tortilla) with filling of cactus (nopales) and chicken. So yummy! Price not even US$1 for one. After the market, we have a stop at the supermarket, as now with the car I can stock up a bit more. Walking in the heat with your shopping is no fun!DSC00576

The 1st of August, 2015

Today, I worked the whole day on the computer and around the house. It is very hot and it looks like it will rain soon. Around 6.00 p.m. I take the bus into town and it starts pouring. Immediately the streets are changing into swimming pools! Once downtown, everybody is squeezed under roofs and store entrances. I was prepared and brought an umbrella! First, I go shoe shopping. Somewhere, behind the Cathedral, are many shoe stores. I find sandals and nice walking shoes. It is cheap. The sandals are leather and more expensive; US$22…..the other ones are cheaper, but very comfortable; US$9.

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Now I am heading for Parque Santa Ana and it’s church with the same name. It is all on walking distance, as long as you are able to stroll a 20 minutes in the heat. I pass a few antique stores and a cozy Italian restaurant. It is a little bit dark in the streets here, but I don’t feel uncomfortable. Once in the park, there is a huge artisan market and at the beginning of the Paseo de Montejo, the Mexican night is held. Lots of different costumes and dances and an enthusiastic Mexican crowd. I buy from an older man two masks, which he made himself. He also made rocking chairs for children and a little school desk. He is so happy that I bought something and I am just happy to see the smile on his face. There is a lot of competition here for the vendors, but I noticed that the Mexican tourists do buy quite some souvenirs.  DSC00100

Later, I go to have a look at the Santa Ana church and see inviting little eateries with terraces in front of them and realize I haven’t eaten yet. This time I get an enormous glass of green lemonade (cactus juice?) and some sopes with different fillings for around US$4.  Once back in the historical centre, it is packed with people! Everywhere musicians are playing; I hear Cuban music (Son) and Mariachi and Cumbia and many other styles. People are all eating and drinking and the ambiente is great! Then I meet Liz by coincidence……we decide to go to Panchos, on calle 59. It looks from the outside as there is nobody, but at the back there is a patio garden and it is wonderful to have some quiet time, after the hectic “outside world”. The last buses have gone, when we finally head home, so we take a taxi, which cost us around US$ 5 in total.

What a great night this was! So many impressions again!

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