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Days 157-160 – Monday-Thursday September 24-27, 2007 – Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico
Leaving Palenque meant that we were finally entering the Yucatan Peninsula. Officially the “Yucatan” region consists of three different states: Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. We decided our first stop in this area would be in the city of Campeche, the capital of the state of the same name. The bus ride from Palenque to Campeche was a long five hour affair, made only better by the bad Spanish movies and cold A/C. (Ok, maybe not the movies!) As we started to approach the city, it suddenly became evident that the ongoing rain had caused severe flooding. On the street just outside the terminal, we saw quite a few cars with water above the door level. At this point we didn’t know what to do, so we proceeded as planned at the terminal and went outside to catch a taxi to the center of the city.
Just outside the terminal, a large group of people were gathered around with the same objective as us, to get a taxi. After a couple of minutes we noticed that the streets were just too flooded for any taxis to make it to the terminal, so we faced a dilemma. This is one of those moments where traveling with a child really influenced our decision heavily. After taking a few minutes to think about it, we decided it was too dangerous to stick around and bought a ticket to the next stop on our list, Merida which was another three hours away. Shortly after buying our tickets to Merida, a group of backpackers arrived at the terminal and informed us that their taxi was filling up with water as they were driving to the terminal. This little piece of information made us feel even better about our decision to move on.
By the time we arrived in Merida, our total trip time was more than ten hours, with over eight of those spent on a bus. This fact combined with the long day of temple climbing and river swimming the day before left all three of us completely wiped. Also, to add insult to injury, somewhere on the bus ride I started to feel my throat turn dry and my nose stuff up. From the bus terminal we wandered the street before finding an acceptable hotel to settle into for the night. With this business out of the way, we found something to eat and quickly went to bed to charge our batteries.
On Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling even worse than the day before, but was determined to get out and make something of the day. After taking a while to drag myself out of bed in the morning, we finally got out to explore the city a bit. The exploring didn’t last long though and I spent the majority of the day in our uncomfortable and HOT hotel room trying to get some rest! In the afternoon, we left the room again to go to the store for supplies, leading to the most interesting moment of our day. After noticing that we had been on the bus for way to long, Jasmine and I asked the driver when our stop was. (He had told us he would let us know!) Just then, he told us we had passed it fifteen minutes before and left us in the middle of a nondescript residential neighborhood somewhere in the city. Luckily, another bus came around five minutes later to pick us up and take us back, but the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
By Wednesday, even though I still wasn’t feeling great, I was determined to get out and see a bit of this historic city. Upon going to th tourist information office, we got some information on a guided trolley type tour that seemed right up our alley, given the situation. We wanted to see the city, but just didn’t have it in us to do it by ourselves in the blistering heat. The guided tour was a two hour affair, narrated by our guide in both Spanish and English to accommodate everyone on the bus. While the explanation of everything in both languages got a bit annoying, the guide was well informed and did his job in conveying to us the history of Merida. The tour specifically focused on the colonial era of this region along with the different architectural styles found among the city’s many historic buildings. We also passed a couple of Merida’s famous landmarks including a stunning fountain that sits in the middle of a rotunda. At 80 pesos, we felt the tour was worthwhile and did not regret our decision to save our feet from all of the walking.
After leaving the tour bus, we headed inside the Palacio Municipal (City Hall) to see a small art museum that had been recommended by the tourist information office. The art on display all dealt with some aspect of Merida’s history, with most of it focusing on the Mayan civilization and early days of Spanish rule. While I am unsure of the art style, the pieces were all unique and quite beautiful. The detail in these paintings was incredible and we spent around thirty minutes in the gallery of around twenty paintings.
As Wednesday evening approached, we decided that we had seen enough of Merida and it was time to move on. While I was only feeling marginally better, I wanted to get going again, perhaps looking forward to the beach in Cancun that was just days away. After leaving the museum, we headed over to the terminal and purchased a Thursday morning ticket to Piste, which is a small town that sits about five minutes from the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
Before heading to the terminal to catch our bus on Thursday morning, we partook in one last sightseeing venture in Merida. At 8am every morning, the city sponsors a free walking tour around the central plaza. We couldn’t resist a free tour, so we participated and once again learned quite a bit about Merida’s history. The plaza in Merida has a tremendous atmosphere along with an old historic church and is one of the biggest and most beautiful we have seen thus far. The tour took around an hour, giving us just enough time to get our backpacks and head over to the terminal to catch our bus.
Merida wasn’t my favorite city in Mexico, but it wasn’t at all bad. We are still adjusting to the hot temperatures and I think that the constant heat took a toll on my mood a bit here. The city iself is historic and incredibly welcoming to visitors, so I think my small dislikes lie more with the heat and my cold then with reality. To tell the truth, I have been in a miserable mood for the past few days, (these things tend to happen when I get sick) but things are getting better now! After all, we are about to visit one of the New Seven Wonders of the World before heading to the beaches of Cancun & Playa Del Carmen. Life isn’t that bad after all!
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The Coomer Family
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