Down to Mérida and back again, the finish line is in sight

I flew into Mérida last Thursday night. Friday morning at the bank to set up my account with Alfonso. Friday afternoon meeting with Isaac, the realty agent, and Alonso, the notary, to set up a limited power of attorney in case I can't make it back down for closing. Saturday morning meet the owner at the property to look around. Sunday back home again.

It was a quick trip, so quick and so busy it almost feels like I hallucinated it.

The flight down took most of a day, arriving in Mérida Thursday night around 7 p.m. Got through the airport and took a taxi to my hotel.

I know! I stayed at a hotel in Mérida! This was a first. Every time before involved renting a house. But this time I felt like it would just be easier to rent a room, especially since I was going to be running around so much, there probably wasn't going to be a lot of time to enjoy a house.

I stayed at Koox Art 57, in the Santiago neighborhood. It is a small boutique hotel and the room I stayed in had a tiny side patio with a small personal dip pool in it.

Well, "pool" may be overstating it. Sort of an outdoor concrete bathtub.  It's not particularly deep or big. But if you want to take a dip and cool off after a long walk, it's good enough.

Plus, it was right around the corner from Wookiee Monchis, which I was excited to go back to. And I did. Although now it's called Cosmic Monchis. Maybe a cease and desist from Disney? I dunno.

Food was still good and affordable. And I muddled through with my slowly improving Spanish.

Friday morning I got up early and slowly meandered my way up towards the bank. Stopping along Paseo de Montejo occasionally to relax and kill some time.

Was it that long ago I said Paseo Montejo wasn't my cup of tea? Were things changing for me?

At the bank I met Alfonso. He was much younger than he sounded on the phone. I had my precious stamped tourist visa and then they went about preparing paperwork for my new account while I waited.

Then the tricky part began. In order for my paperwork to be validated, I had to sign it EXACTLY as the signature in my passport. This was a tall order.

I don't have a standard signature, per se. I have some things that I know I do every time that other people may not notice, but the rest is kind of a mess.

I took a few practice tries and then signed for real.

They whisked it away to some unseen compliance officer. No good.

Back to practicing. And then the reprinting of the documents. Two versions this time. And I signed them again, hoping one would be accepted.

And yes, finally one of them was.

Got my debit card, some instructions on getting all my online stuff set up. Some handshakes and I was off.

I started walking back to the hotel, and debated sidetracking over to the property, just to peek over the wall. But having all this paperwork and various other things from the bank in my pocket made me think I should just stop at the hotel and drop them all off.

At the hotel I took a dip to cool off and relaxed a bit to let my clothes dry out a bit. It was more than a little humid in Mérida.

By then it was getting close to lunchtime (for me, anyways, as someone from the U.S.) so I took off, figuring I'd swing by the property, look over the wall, and then make my obligatory trip to Hennessey's.

I walked past the old train station and possible future park of La Plancha. It looked like it was slow going. Massive amounts of steel rails sat in mountainous heaps, twisting in rusted shapes under their own weight. If the plan was to plant trees soon during the rainy season, it wasn't looking promising.

Using Facebook Messenger, I live video called Angie to have her walk the final block with me to the property.

We got there and we looked over the wall. A lot of trash was strewn across the lot, a heaping pile of it right next to the wall and surrounding a large tree.

I kind of knew, seeing photos of it with the low walls, that it would be filled with trash. And that's not a Mexico thing. I feel like anywhere in the world, if people think they can throw trash where it's "out of sight, out of mind" they will do it.

I wandered over to Hennessey's and it was about 12:30. I was one of about three people in the place. I know, a little early for people in Mexico to eat lunch.

I continued my streak of only using Spanish in restaurants and was pretty proud of myself.

I waited outside my hotel just before 5 p.m. for Isaac to pick me up to drive me to Alonso's office to sign the limited power of attorney. As I stood there a shorter gentleman walked past me (I'm 6'2" so shorter than me, anyways) and I only saw him from the back, but he looked incredibly familiar.

For years I have been obsessing with Mérida. I've been on every home site, seen almost every video. I was sure this looked like Keith Heitke from Mexico International Real Estate. I've seen all of his old YouTube videos where he shows property in various neighborhoods around Mérida. But I wasn't sure, and in the moment I couldn't remember his name.

Shortly, Isaac arrived and we were on our way. As we turned the corner and traveled down the street, Isaac smiled and rolled down his window. "Keith!" he called out and waved with his hand at the man who had passed me earlier. And Keith waved back. I said "that's Keith from Mexico International?" And Isaac confirmed that it was. It felt like a celebrity sighting for me!

Isaac drove on and asked if I was excited "It's finally happening," he said with a smile. I agreed I was excited, but still cautious since there had been issues that always seemed to crop up when I got too excited. But we definitely seemed to be heading towards inevitability at this point.

At Alonso's, Isaac and I sat in the office for about an hour waiting for the paperwork to be drawn up. Had a nice chat with Isaac about a number of topics. Alonso came in, we signed, and had a chat about politics.

I think I could have chatted politics with them for the rest of the night, but I knew they were busy and didn't need to spend more time with me.

Anyways, the closing date was set for roughly June 20th. About three weeks away. Could I make it back in three weeks? Maybe.

Isaac drove me back to the hotel. He was going to try to get the owner to open the gate on the land so I could go inside and see it more closely. No luck on Friday.

I wandered over to Santa Lucia park (my favorite park) and stopped in at Bryan's Burger Bar, another favorite haunt of mine. My Spanish still attempting to hold up, but slipping a little. While I'm eating, Isaac emails me. The seller can have the lot opened at 9 a.m. on Saturday, but Isaac won't be able to make it. Can I meet the person there?

Yes, I can.

Saturday morning I woke up early and moseyed around the city. Taking photos of the front of houses for fun and Instagram.

Just enjoying the morning as I slowly slinked up past la Plancha and towards the lot.

I made it to the lot and an older gentleman was waiting for me with the gate open. We clumsily attempted to speak back and forth, me with my not so good Spanish and him with not so good English. But in the collisions between we seemed to understand each other well enough.

I walked the lot, taking video to send to Angie later. And so I could relive it whenever I wanted.

One of the things that I had pondered before seeing the lot in person was the trees. They were large and old trees. I felt like they were something that, in the future, we would have to work around in the design of the house.

I hated the idea of cutting down these ancient trees. But seeing them in person and I realized that they may need to be taken down simply because of how they had been mistreated.

A lovely tree in the middle of the yard, one that I thought would actually be nice to keep and work the house around, was completely gutted by a campfire made into its trunk. How it was alive still, let alone standing, was beyond me. Was this campfire made by the owner? Or possibly some homeless person? Or maybe it was a lightning strike? Hard to say, but the charred hollow stretched 12 feet up its base. And there were piles of trash coming over the low fences from the neighbors.

There was a small building on one corner of the lot, but as the gentleman there told me, the roof was collapsing. Not that we would ever consider keeping it.

Later I told Angie we would lovingly name the place Casa Basura (trash house.) At least until we started building someday and a better name came along.

I wandered home along Calle 47. Because I wanted to see what was there, since if la Plancha was built, it would be that area where we cut through the park and we'd come out on 47. There are a lot of nice houses and restaurants along Calle 47.

I spent a lot of the rest of the day Saturday at the hotel. I sat on the hotel's patio and read for awhile. Read in my room for awhile. I paced out the dimensions of my room and bathroom and jotted it in my little notebook. I thought it would be a good size for a spare bedroom in our house someday.

Around 3 p.m. I decided I would go eat lunch at the proper Mexican time for lunch. I also figured since I would be traveling early the next morning, this might be my last meal.

I wanted to go back to Calle 47 and try some food in that area. It was exceedingly hot at this point and walking east-west along the streets offered no shade for relief from the blistering sun. So I hoofed it as fast as I could. Which also left me incredibly sweaty. It rolled into my eyes, the saltiness stinging.

I walked by my chosen restaurant, Catrin. There was a generator humming across the street, thick cables crossing the road and attached to the building. Was it not open?

I walked to the door and there was a woman inside holding the door. I stopped and waited for her to notice me. If it's open, she'll open the door. If it's not, she'll wave me away like the fool I am.

My first course at Catrin
She noticed me, opened the door and seated me.

I was a roaring and sweaty mess. I'm sure I was a sight to behold. And now, at 3:30, the place was full of lunch goers.

This would be the restaurant where my Spanish would break completely and I, sadly, was forced back to English.

Not because I didn't want to try. The server was a very nice man with a broad smile. But, like myself, he was very quiet. So, when he spoke I couldn't hear him in the slightly loud lunchtime atmosphere. I cupped my hand to my ear in the universal symbol that I couldn't hear.

He took this that I couldn't understand him, and he might have been right if I had heard him. He quickly abandoned Spanish for English. I still tried Spanish from my side, but any illusion that this was going to be an exchange in Spanish was broken. Our roles, strangely, reversed.

He spoke to me almost exclusively in English, and I responded in my terrible Spanish. It might have been adorable if I wasn't so sweaty.

I ordered an appetizer, and a meal. Both were delicious and two bottles of Montejo later, I strolled back into the Mérida heat, painfully stuffed.

I decided to be 'wise' on my walk back to the hotel. With no shadows on the east-west streets, I decided I would zigzag my way back. So I didn't have to endure all the heat of the sun in one long stretch.

I walked south a block, then turned west a block, then south a block, west a block, etc. By the time I had to make a long westard march of about 4 blocks, since there were no more blocks to go south, Mérida seemed to have pity on me and a cloud moved overhead.

Back at the hotel I stripped down, slipped into the pool one last time to wash away the sweat and then stretched out on the bed. After a while I moved back onto the patio to read. The sky was darkening under deep blue clouds. The wind picked up and soon it was storming. Lightning and thunder and heavy rains. The wind cooled the air and I sat on the covered patio and relaxed. Knowing in about 12 hours I'd be starting a long day of travel.

Morning came and I took a taxi to the airport for my 8 a.m. flight to Houston. Then through customs and back through security in the U.S. and a quick flight to Denver, where I'd spend the next six and a half hours. Or so I thought. A failed plane meant we had to deplane and get on a new one. Then that plane had a failure. We waited for them to fix it and then, 9 hours after first landing in Denver, I was on my way back home, landing around midnight.

But we were much closer to everything becoming a reality, for sure.