Being a Mérida tour guide
Bringing friends required a bit more excitement.
One thing I could appreciate was that Ivan is an adventurous eater. I would consider myself an adventurous eater, as well, though when I'm with Angie I almost never make the effort, because I know she's a grilled-cheese girl.
This meant we got to try a lot more foods from street stalls, seafood and even those seasoned crickets (grasshoppers?) out of a bucket that you occasionally see street vendors carrying around.
|Grasshoppers, by Ivan Miller
|al Pastor, by Angie
I can honestly say, this was one of my favorite food trips. I mean, we always eat well in Mérida, but this time was a real opportunity to go outside the box with someone else.
Every meal was a little bit different.
For one of the meals, we wandered into Santa Ana Park looking for some lunch. I wasn't particularly hungry or fussy, and Angie didn't really care to eat any street food (I knew we'd be stopping at a pizza shop for her later) and so I told her to let Ivan wander a bit and pick the food stall he wanted to eat at. So we walked in and, naturally, there are people from each little stall jumping at you to take a seat and order in their section. I politely declined and just slowly wandered as Ivan and his wife, Amanda, perused the menus.
Then, somehow, as she was taking photos, Angie got in front of all of us and someone offered her a seat at a table. She was tired and so, without a hesitation or any thought of what she was committing us to, she sat down. And with that, it was decided where we would eat. It turned out fine, and the food was fantastic.
Maybe you're asking how the bugs were? Honestly, they were pretty good. Once you get over the mental hurdle of eating a bug with long legs, most of the taste is in the seasoning. I'd get them again as a little snack, for sure.
We went to Oliva for Angie's birthday dinner. It was a very nice night with great food.
Our last night, we weren't sure where to go. I had a short list of contenders. All along Calle 47. I had a pick in mind, but since this was Ivan and Amanda's last night here, and I would be back many more times, I let them choose. The place they chose was Casa Dominga, which is a place similar to Mercado 60 (UPDATE: or was, I think they may be closed as it looked like the space was for rent when we went in November of 2019) with different food stalls around a courtyard.
They were just opening the bar area when we arrived, but the food stalls wouldn't be opening for another hour or two. We had a drink and decided to move on. We were hungry. That meant we went to my choice, across the street and on the corner, Micaela Mar & Leña.
Now, one drawback to this is that it is more of a seafood restaurant, and Angie very much dislikes seafood. She agreed to be a soldier and find something she'd be willing to eat because Ivan very much does like seafood. It was such a fantastic experience. It quickly became Ivan's favorite restaurant of the trip. I highly recommend a trip there for dinner if you're in the area.
I know, so far it sounds like all we've done is eat, hang by the pool, walk a little, eat, sleep and repeat. I said we'd do other things, and, dang-it, we did!
I didn't want to rent a car the entire time we were there. It seemed like it would just be wasted most of the time and I'd spend more time driving around finding a parking spot than anything else. So it was planned that we would rent a car for two days, and we would cram as much stuff into those two days as time would allow.
Renting the car was a pretty quick and painless affair. I'd rented in Mexico before from one of the major car rental companies and it felt like an incredible hassle, bordering on a scam. This time we went with a more local company and they were much better and upfront with all of the pricing.
The only problem we had was something I didn't notice right away. Angie and I went in the morning and rented the vehicle and then drove it and parked it while we waited for Ivan and Amanda to wake up and get ready. When we all got to the car and started driving, the tire pressure warning came on and pressure was going down on one of the tires pretty consistently. On the way out of town we stopped at a service station and had it filled.
But it would always start to lose air as the day went along. It never went totally flat, but it was a little concerning. Ultimately, it ended up never being a real issue, it was just one of those things that blinked on the dash and nagged me the whole trip. Note for next time, check those gauges before leaving the lot!
Day 1 and we were off to Izamal, the yellow city. We climbed up to the convent and then wandered the side streets and scrambled up Kinich Kakmó pyramid. We strolled through the market and got a few snacks for the road.
I plotted a course that would wind us through small villages on the way up to the coast. We approached the coastline through the Laguna Rosada where we stopped to buy salt at a roadside stand that is frequented by tour buses and flamingos. We took photos of the flamingos.
|by Ivan Miller