Our first trip to Merida, Part 2

The jungle of the Yucatan fades to almost complete black after the sun has set. Driving along the main highway connecting Cancun to Merida, thanks to delays at the airport and car rental, we did not have a lot of sunlight to work with.

As the sun was going down we would occasionally see a man with a cart, usually attached in some fashion to a bicycle or motorized bicycle, loaded with freshly gathered wood. A lot of the houses around here are still fueled by wood. Wood cooking, wood heat (if you need heat?)

With my nerves frayed and my anxiety at peak levels we drove into the dark like we were heading into a David Lynch film.

At some point we had stopped talking and drove in silence. Not out of anger, I imagine we both were just spinning the wheels of our mind about what was going to happen. Will anyone be at the house when we arrive? Should we have stayed in Cancun?

By now we were close enough to Merida that we could see the glow in the sky. According to my phone's GPS we were quickly approaching our turn-off to the town of Ticopó. It was very dark, was this actually a town? I'm used to seeing more lights in a town, even a small town.

My hesitation combined with my lack understanding how this turn-off thing worked, and I missed it.

For your consideration. To turn left from the highway onto a side road, you do not simply turn left. You must drive past the road you want to turn onto, get into a left turn lane, and then turn left onto a curving ribbon of road that turns you around and follows along an apron until you get back to the road you intended to turn onto. Which, you then turn right onto. Basically, you're performing a long and wide U-turn.

Sound confusing? Well, it certainly was for me in the dark and all anxiety-d out. Here's a Google Maps view to better illustrate the situation. now imagine it's incredibly dark.

We traveled along until I found the next one of these strange turnarounds and I whipped us about, nearly careening us off the road in the process. I'm fairly certain two wheels were hanging over the ditch.

I drove slowly back, trying to find our turn again, determined not to miss it this time.

"Is this it?" I asked.

Angie wasn't sure, but we took the turn anyways. It was dark in the northern part of the town. Everyone seemed asleep. Do people go to bed early in the Yucatan?

Down the road a short distance and around a small bend was the answer to my question. No, they did not. The small square near the center of town was lit up and bustling with activity.

We drove slowly over the little speed-bumps, called topes, eliciting a few stares from some of the children as we passed.

Back into darkness on a narrow road. We were getting closer now. On we drove through Canicab and further south in the dark.

According to the GPS we were very close. Into another small village and we were almost there.

"It should be here up on the left," I told Angie as I drove slowly, but the jungle made it difficult to tell how exactly we drive in to get to the little dot.

We were going to be staying at Casa Sisal, which is a part of Hacienda Sac Chich. And, according to the GPS, it was just to the left of us in the jungle. There was a private drive with a large gate. I pulled up to it, but then backed out, because it just didn't seem right. It seemed a little too imposing.

There was another dark private drive to the south of that, but I didn't pull in because it was not marked. So I drove on by. There was nothing else and the GPS told us we were past it. So I turned around and went back. And slowly passed both drives again. Still unsure if blindly driving down possibly the wrong private drive in the dark was a wise move.

I turned around yet again and pulled off the side of the road near a patchwork concrete basketball court. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go. I had assumed that the person who was supposed to meet us had obviously left and we were stuck in the jungle with no place to stay for the night. What do we do now?

Everything really is falling apart it seems.

Angie encourages me to drive by slowly one more time.

The first gated drive seems unwelcoming and certainly can't be right. As we approached the second drive, we saw two women walking out to the road and flagging us down.

"Casa Sisal?" we asked.

"Si, si!" and they motioned us down the dark drive and closed the gate behind us. As we slowly drove closer we saw Hacienda Sac Chich lit up in front of us. One of the women motioned for us to take the small road to the right, which we followed to its end. We were finally here! Casa Sisal.

The measure of relief that we both had at that point was immense. We both felt like an elephant had been standing on our chests and he had finally stepped off.

We were grateful to the ladies for having stayed so late to let us in. Whether they understood us I'm not sure, as they gave us a quick and friendly tour fairly heavy in Spanish and took their leave.

I didn't get to see any of the Super Bowl that year, but it didn't matter, it was a blowout anyway.

We turned the lights off and watched the fireflies, twinkling like stars fallen from the heavens, in the grass of the drying field that surrounds Casa Sisal and we exhaled.

Fireflies twinkle in the grass in front of Casa Sisal.

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