Our first trip to Mérida, Part 5

With our house hunting excursion moved to Thursday, we now had two days to relax and enjoy Merida and the Yucatan.

On Tuesday we got up early and drove to Izamal.

All photos by Angie

The beautiful yellow city.

We climbed a couple "hills" in the city, which are ancient and eroded pyramids, and walked through the market.

By this time, the Yucatan was becoming more "normal" for me. I didn't feel like a foreigner, because people didn't treat us like we were. I mean, sure, we didn't speak the language, or really know the customs, and we were obviously gringos, but nobody cared. Even I didn't seem to care.

Nobody tried to sell us things we didn't want and everybody just treated us like we belonged. And that is often an odd thing when traveling internationally. 

I can't even guess the amount of times I've been approached in other countries by people wanting me to come to their shops to buy a suit. I work for a newspaper, in the online department, I really don't need suits. But here we encountered none of it. Even in the markets, no hard sales.

I was starting to feel so normalized that on the drive back to Casa Sisal I remarked to Angie that it was so nice out that when I got back home I should call my friend Ben. I should see if he wants to get the motorcycles out for a ride. To which, Angie reminded me it was February and it was bitterly cold and snow-covered back home. I had honestly forgotten.

We spent a little time relaxing at the casa before getting ready and heading into Merida for dinner.

We ate at the outdoor restaurant at the Gran Hotel. I don't know if it's the greatest restaurant in Merida, but we got to relax outside and they probably had chicken fingers on the Menu for Angie.

We chatted with the server and I let him pick my meal, because what do I know of local flavor? He told us that there was a little more tourism in Merida than years past. That a few cruise ships had started traveling and docking in the gulf north of Merida and shuttling passengers down. He also told us to visit Santiago Park. It was Tuesday night, the night they hold a big band and dance in the square. His friendliness and casualness was appreciated and a welcome comfort.

Remember earlier when I stated I hadn't been "sold" anything? Well, I guess tonight was the night.

Besides the friendly banter, we were also given the location of a market with "authentic handmade" wares that we just had to visit. It was fairly innocuous, but still. I was skeptical (I'm a cynic, remember?) but Angie wanted to check it out on the way to Santiago.

We walked to Plaza Grande first, since it was still early, and wandered through the local shops. At one point we were approached by a stranger who was eager to give advice on Merida.

First, he said I looked too tense, like I was waiting for someone to rob me. And maybe I did, but that's just generally my expression, I suppose. A resting, crabby/cynical face. My ancestry is German, so I guess that follows.

He assured me that I had nothing to worry about (I wasn't worried), Merida is safe (yeah, I wasn't worried.)  Maybe don't wander too far south after dark, he advised. But generally, nothing to worry about. I thanked him for his advice while I awaited the hard sale. I knew it was coming. And here it was.

Do I need any suits? No, I assured him. Well, I should just go and check out his family's shop. It's on the way to Santiago. We are going to Santiago, right? They are having a band and dancing! Of course we are, I said. Well, perfect, he'll show us the way and then we can go to his family's shop. I told him we were going to dinner first, but we'd look out for it. Okay, yes, we had eaten so this was a lie. But he just wasn't going to take no for an answer either way and I wasn't in the mood to be walked five blocks by some stranger to look at suits I don't need. Social anxiety, remember?

We finally shook him and started heading towards Santiago. We found the craft market our server suggested and, like I suspected, everything seemed more Chinese than local. So we simply moved on. Nobody tried hard selling us there.

The streets were dark and as we walked down Calle 59 we passed by a gallery of a local artist and went inside and looked around. It appeared to simply be his house, the large front room of which he was using to display his art. Angie was in love with all of the art.

"If we buy a house here, we have to get one of these pieces for it," she told me.

We came back a few days later and bought a small print that Angie could fit in her luggage to take home with us. When he opened one of the doors to the back to get a bag to place the print in I could see he had a small plunge pool in the adjacent dark room. It was odd, I thought, to have the pool in the house. The image really stuck with me for some reason. You really never know what is behind every little door in Merida.

In Santiago Park the band was playing and people were dancing. My social anxiety, coupled with my lack of rhythm, kept us from dancing, but it was still a sweet night watching a lot of older couples still expressing their love for each other as they danced or sat and watched the band play.

We stayed and watched for awhile, and then walked back to Santa Lucia Park and drove home to Casa Sisal for the night. Still in love with each other and still in love with Merida.