Central America | Mexico | Yucatan Peninsula | Yucatan | Merida – Merry Merida
Yucatan did not catch a shred of my fancy at first sight. The monotonous drive was filled with dirt, heat, poverty, and unsightly landscape. Far from the myth and exoticism that I had expected, everything, from the dried weeds and bushes along the road, to the emaciated farm animals, to the grotesque-looking locals, echoed bleakness. The vultures circling in the sky and the implication of dead lives nearby made me cringe.
But Merida was an oasis. Gone were the tacky hotel and restaurant signs flashing ‘Mayan’. Instead, the city buzzed on Sunday as merchants and food vendors flocked to the Plaza Mayor. The locals out and about showered us with the warmth of their personality. The juice bar attendant spent half an hour teaching me the names of everything on the menu in Spanish, an old man on the park bench pointed to the pigeons, then us, and called us ‘palomitas’ affectionately, and a cake vendor gave me two slices for the price of one because she didnt feel the first piece was big enough. Weariness from the tiring drive washed away, I felt so carefree and quickly became the center of stares as the only adult blowing soup bubbles on the plaza.
Paris would need to give up its title as the ‘city of love’ because no one in Merida was alone. There were young couples, old ones, good-looking ones, ugly ones, and even a homeless couple on the park bench, both wrinkly and old and both smiling. Every time I turned my head Id catch someone kissing.
Perhaps its only a superficial observation, but I still wonder how Merida could pack so much merriment into one place. The city deserves a visit even without its historical landmarks, and I could not have asked for a better first taste of Mexico.