Saturday, May 24, 2014

Days 5 and 6 of the GMRT: Exploring the beautiful city of Mérida

My husband loves two cities in the United States besides our hometown of Bend, Oregon. He loves the bright lights and activities of Las Vegas and the beauty that is San Francisco. Keep in mind, we haven't gotten the opportunity to explore many areas outside of the west coast. Coming to Mexico, we knew that we wanted to travel as much as possible and get to know this country of his. This trip is allowing us to see eight new states in Mexico. Now some of the states here aren't as big as our west coast states in the US but they are all unique in their own right.
Something about Mérida though has captured José and he keeps talking about moving here and starting a dual language school. Spanish for those who would want to come down and stay with us for 1-4 weeks in an immersion type setting or local expats who want to improve their Spanish overall. And English for locals who want to improve their vocabulary and fluency to increase their ability to work in the tourism driven industries here. It would take a lot of time, money, and energy to start something like that and my heart just isn't pulled by that right now. It's all he can talk about though so I'm pretty sure that I'd better figure out when I can fit it into our future!

We stayed at the Hotel Ambassador which is just mere blocks from the downtown area and even though they raise the prices 48 pesos on the weekends, it was definitely worth it to stay a couple more nights. At some point in the last 2 days, the rear gate on the Cherokee stopped working so we weren't able to open it at all to get at our belongings. Instead we had to drag everything over the backseats to get it out, not fun at all! We asked around and found a mechanic only four blocks from the hotel and took the Cherokee over there. He determined that the actuator had gone bad. He didn't have the exact same one but was able to rig up a different model and go the lock and door working only, all for only 450 pesos!

We took the girls downtown to walk around and explore more of the city and its beautiful buildings. Our goal was to find the traditional Yucatan shirts with the embroidery on the neckline and hems. Eva told us to find the mercado so we asked around again and found it. There were tons of stalls full of shirts but you have to really work hard to find the good prices. There were so many beautiful things and I wanted them all but we were operating on a tight budget so I couldn't fulfill all my shopping desires. I settled on a black shirt with bright flowers. I would really love to get a dress and belt as well at some point in my future as a rich expat. We got a dress for Mia and shirts for both our moms and Erika. We have been looking for traditional and regional food to try out on this trip. In the mercado, we found a lady selling a version of Yucatan tamales (I think!). They were thick and heavy corn like the maza with a crunchy black bean in them. They were tasty but I'm not sure I could eat them like the traditional Mexican tamal because they are very heavy. We found lunch upstairs from the mercado and we ordered this green drink that sounded weird but was delicious and now I can't remember the name of it!! Can anyone help me here?
The girls spent the afternoons playing in the pool. They have informed me that they like playing at the beach but prefer the swimming pools because they don't get sand in their cracks or salt in their eyes and it's safer for them to play by themselves for hours. As an adult, I prefer the ocean for relaxing and playing in the waves but I can understand their point of view. My husband and suegra don't know how to swim so large bodies of water can be daunting and scary in general.

José and I took advantage of the in-house babysitter and walked downtown for dinner. We walked all over reading the menus and checking prices and entrees before we returned to the Dos Toros on our street Calle 59. We ordered a Parrillada for 2 and wow, I could have moved there just for the pork leg that they made. The meat just fell off the bone and melted in my mouth, like a food orgasm. And that was only one part of a huge meal with so many offerings.

We decided to stay an extra night on Saturday because the town had been advertising their event La Noche Blanca which was supposed to be full of events from 8pm to 2am. José and I left the girls with grandma so they could play in the pool and we walked to the Paseo Montejo where all the old buildings and monuments are located. It was a little walk over there but we planned on renting bikes as soon as we hit the Paseo because it's long! And right when we got there, we found the only bike rental place. Only 60 pesos an hour to rent a bike so we each picked one out. The sidewalks are quite wide and it was so awesome to ride up and down and stop wherever you wanted to take pictures. It took us less than an hour to go all the way down one side and back up the other. I think this has got to be one of my favorite parts of our vacation. I need to make a point to ride bikes more often with my family.
In the afternoon, we took everyone to the Parque Zoologico del Centenario. It is a combination park and zoo but it's free for everyone every day! This is a big deal to me because it shows that the town is more interested in taking care of their residents than the profit margin. We got raspados right before we walked in the gate and they are forbidden in the zoo for good reason so José sat outside the fence while we walked around inside. The girls loved the giraffe reaching up with its tongue to eat leaves and the baby hippo that stayed under water forever with its mama. After we wandered through the zoo, the girls went to go play in the huge water fountain.
After playing in the pool and having dinner, we walked downtown to explore the night time event. The streets were packed with people, the restaurants had pulled their tables and chairs into the streets, everything was peaceful with a great energy, and we enjoyed walking around. There are several parks scattered around the downtown area so there were billboards with the schedule of events and you could walk around and attend what appealed to you. Our only drawback was that we didn't know the names/locations to each place so we just wandered around and stopped when we found something interesting. The girls tired of it pretty quickly though so we walked back to the hotel around 11pm. José wanted to go out and explore more so he headed out by himself and had a great time. It sounds like all the good bands turned out to play after I went to bed!




Location: Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico

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