Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Viva Merida!

After almost 3 months of being cooped up in NYC, it was time to make a break. Eventhough finances are a little shaky, I need to get on a plane for my mental sanity. My friends Brooks has been at his winter home in Merida on the Yucatan peninsula and beckoned me down. Well the beckoning has been going on for awhile and finding a direct flight for $97 each ay, I was basically forced to go.
Left a cold, rainy JFK last Wednesday on a JetBlue flight to Cancun, full of people eager for some beach and sun. Merida is a 4 hr bus ride from Cancun so my journey was not over after a 4 hr flight from New York. I raced past all the British tourists at passport control to get through and to the bus station in time for the 3:30 bus, only to find I had to wait for the shuttle (a shared cab with 3 other people). Of course I was the last person to be dropped off after doing a giant loop of all the hellish hotel/resorts. My inner-NYC was getting all twisted up in a big knot of frenzy and anxiety yet somewhere along the route I reminded myself that this is Mexico and let go of the big knot and relaxed. This wasn’t the only bus to Merida, they run all the time, so I’ll catch the next one. Step one in being on vacation. Instead of fighting and rushing, relax and embrace the slower pace of Mexico. As we drove past row upon row of beach resorts (the Cancun version of hell in my book), I was thankful I wasn’t going to be holed up in one of thoese monstrosities. My version of a cruise ship on land.
The driver finally dropped me off at the bus station and I made my way inside to get a ticket. A small, clean, bustling station with excellent people watching possibilities. I love bus stations in other countries, watching people come and go, being greeted or kissed and hugged goodbye. Mexico is one of those places where the bus station is crowded not so much with travelers but more so in families and friends escorting or seeing off someone. Munching on a ham and cheese croissant and drinking a coffee I watched the scenes before me, little moments of life, as I waited for my bus to Merida.
4 hours later, our bus pulled into the colonial capital of the Yucatan—Merida. Brooks met me at the bus station and whisked me off to my first of many great meals at Pancho’s, a flashy local restaurant. After my flight and bus ride, was I ready for a few margaritas and a nice meal, and so it was. We made a circle around the Zocalo and through the old streets of town back to Brooks’ house. The air was hot and heavy, the old cathedral lit up, cafes and restaurants hopping and the streets full of people. Here was a new part of Mexico for me. I grew up with Baja and now I finally get down to the Yucatan. Merida is a charming colonial town surrounded by ancient Mayan history. I was enamored at the first moment I arrived.

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