And how I was put in a dormitory full of sick backpackers
↑ Flag lowering ceremony in Merida. I like these ceremonies and my disappointment over the cancellation of this ceremony in Mexico city’s grand plaza was partially compensated here.
You don’t need a taxi
Flying from Mexico city early in the morning, I was greeted to the laid back life of Yucatan on a Sunday morning. The airport was practically empty; I honestly don’t know where all the people from my plane disappeared. It took me a while to find some official-looking guy, but he simply turned out to be a store attendant. Anyway, he, and few others after him, insisted that I should take a taxi to the city as there is no bus.
I walked out of the airport to a gigantic parking lot that was filled with parked tourist buses, a sight that I never saw in Mexico city. Beyond the lot was the main street which, I hoped, had buses. It did, and led me straight to downtown.
↑ Around the central square
Mérida (मेरीदा) has a nice central plaza (called “Plaza Grande”) with a Mexican flag flying high. On sundays, some streets around the plaza are closed for vehicular traffic, which, I understand, was adopted to boost tourism in the city. Instead, the entire plaza and its surroundings turn into a pedestrian mall, with a stage setup for shows, a food lane with tons of yummy greasy fast food and buskers, vendors and other entertainers who flock the plaza. Buses pass through the streets on mysterious routes but its easier to catch a bus to neighbouring towns from the central bus terminal.
↑ The ‘El Centro’ plaza is beautiful, with lots of shade, a fountain and benches. Kissing in public didn’t seem like an epidemic here, compared to, say, Puebla. The third picture has a “public phone farm,” for lack of a better description.
↑ Merida’s quiet downtown streets
Most tourist attractions are spread around downtown so you could see them all in a day depending on your interest. There are numerous sights located at some distance from downtown. There is something to see everywhere… at the street corners, there are these signs that were installed by the Spanish rulers to teach people Spanish to the native population.
↑ Laid out in a typical colonial plan, the main square is surrounded by important political, administrative, religious and commercial buildings in a grid pattern.
The pastel green building seen above is the Palicio de Gobierno, housing provincial government offices. The grande paintings inside the palace told some of the most compelling stories I had ever seen in a painting. These paintings were the work of Fernando Castro Pacheco and it took him 25 years to make them. Each painting tells a story about the Maya contact with Spanish colonialists, and how the life of the native population changed due to the arrival of the Europeans.
↑ Back to the colonial era
I need a place to sleep, and my stomach feels funny…
↑ I ate at one such carts. Mexican food is delicious.
Ever since I was forced to sleep in a barn in Nazareth, Israel because I was too lazy to look for a place to stay, I got generally better at scouting and reserving a place before lunchtime. Life, in general, becomes much easier if you know that there is a place you can go to and the end of the day. Remember to quote that.
However, my Couch surfer host cancelled on me at the last minute and I couldn’t find anyone else who’d take me. I was coming back after a day of intense hitchhiking, or the lack of it. I tried my luck till 8pm, but nothing. So now I was at the mercy of hostels which, for some reason, were full.
That’s when I heard it. Gentle rumbling sounds from my tummy; sounds that I feared. I checked hostel #1 – it was full. I kept walking while the activity in my stomach intensified. Now it sounded like ferocious ocean waves hitting rocks on the seashore, except that it was nowhere as pleasant. I needed to find a place NOW!
Sweating profusely and with an exasperated expression on my face, I plopped my backpack on the desk of the next hostel.
“Please tell me there is space!!”
“Let me look.” Ofcourse, the guy was in no hurry.
Meanwhile I was getting frantic. I told him I had an emergency.
“The toilet is over there, señor, why didn’t you tell me?”
Before he could finish the sentence, I threw my backpack on the floor and sped faster than the Flash superhero.
Later, looking pitifully at my exhausted look and my limited ability to focus on the surroundings, he said very kindly:
“Okay amigo, we have 1 space in female dormitory. Do you want it?”
“What? It’s not upto me, did you ask the girls there?”
“Yes, there are two girls there with the same condition as you, and they don’t mind.”
So, I got to sleep in a female dormitory that night, but most of my time was spent in a special little private room attached to it.