6. Merida, Mexico…November.2021

Day 5 11.3
This morning Bethany, Sherry & I walked to another market.  New streets everyday to explore.   This was a recommendation from Raul; it’s the neighborhood he grew up in.  I love the fact we’re walking 95% of the time…so much to see!

Look at all these colorful buildings & houses.

A tortilla machine.

Lunch at La LuPita…it was great!  And that’s a lime juice drink in the bottle…really good after the first sour taste.

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I want to call this “pucker-fruit”.  But, I don’t know what it is.

Maybe Plantains?  Tiny banana-look-alikes.

There are so many everyday things we all have in common, no matter where you are in the world.

After lunch, Sherry had some work to do back at the Villa; Bethany & I relaxed in the pool.  Then I was ready to go do some exploring on my own & meet the rest of them for dinner later this evening.  So, I took off towards the square, then spent about 3 hours just finding new street after new street.

Notice the Catrina’s on the balconies.

There are many squares throughout the historic part of Merida besides the main big one.  Every few blocks there is a square with benches, maybe a fountain too.  Sherry told me that most of the homes don’t have much of a ‘yard’ or outdoor space, so the squares are where they come.  You could always see little kids running around or people just sitting enjoying the nice weather.

Found this sweet spot to enjoy a Margarita before meeting everyone for dinner.

Nighttime on the square!  Then it was time to meet up with Sherry, Bethany & Bridget for dinner.

This was considered a “family cantina”; its the one Raul had suggested.

Sherry enjoying her drink.  She’s open to eat & drink anything on her travels…wish I had her spirit of adventure to eat whatever.  One of the many things I’m envious of Sherry for.  It’s been really fun traveling with her on this trip!

Bethany enjoying her drink…she always wore this beautiful smile!  Really enjoyed getting to know her better.

Shrimp tacos were wonderful!

Day 6 11.4
This morning I ate a yummy breakfast at the Villa (I’m not usually a breakfast eater), but had some dragonfruit (similar to a kiwi), a lime-type grapefruit, fresh squeezed OJ & some horchata in my coffee….so good!

Greg, the owner of the Villa came over for about 45 minutes to tell us about this place. He was generous with his time & tolerance for answering questions.  He is passionate about this place & it was easy to see it on his smiling face when he talked about it.

We ate lunch at the house, eating up some of the stuff we had leftover….that roasted chicken was sooooo good!

The first full day I was with the group, I told them I wanted to get my Covid test done as early as possible, which was 72 hours before our flight.  I didn’t want to wait to get it done at the airport; they all agreed it was a good idea.  Ben really did all the research.  I had gotten the name of a couple of clinics that United Airlines accepted, but then he took it from there.  He & Bethany had gone over the day before his flight to get his test done.  This was such a good thing for the rest of us because we knew what was coming.  When they initially arrived at the hospital, no one there spoke English.  An English speaking Doctor was finally found & between him & Google Translate they managed to get the test done & all the right documents completed.  So, this was our first mission of the day.  Bridget & Sherry worked in the morning; & Bethany & I just hung out by the pool.  

We’d yet to find any Uber drivers that could take 4 passengers, so we left for the hospital in two separate vehicles.  We arrived & Bethany managed to go back first & actually met up with the same Doctor as they had when Ben went.  She made it so easy on all of us.  She came back out, collected our passports & fee; then returned about 15 minutes later & led us around the back of the hospital for the actual test.  It was 500 pesos or about $25 dollars for the rapid test.

Lovely photograph!  Parking lot Covid test, but after having quite a few Covid tests in the past year, this was the second most invasive….very similar to the one I got at KU Medical Center back home.  

We’d be emailed our results in a couple of hours, so it wasn’t time to celebrate yet.  The four of us had all been vaccinated & all felt great, but Covid is a sneaky little bastard, so we just had to wait.

While Bethany & Bridget went back to the Villa, Sherry & I were dropped off at the big old cemetery in Merida.  Sherry loves cemeteries; I typically don’t.  I’ve had to bury too many of my tiny family so I’ve never really looked at them as someplace interesting to visit.  My Mother & Grandmother did though…I remember as a kid being drug to a few obscure ones as we’d drive around the state.  I always thought it was kind of creepy.  

The Cemetery Gateway.

But, I managed to find this one interesting & took a boatload of photos.  Such a colorful place & you could immediately tell that one side of the street through the cemetery was for the rich & the other side for the poorer families.

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Another…maybe the most "mind-blowing-I-can’t-quite-wrap-my-brain-around-this’ tradition we discovered in Merida.  One of the big customs in Maya-Mexico culture to celebrate Day of the Dead or Hanal Pixan, is the “Cleaning of the Bones”.  When Raul mentioned this there was dead silence in the van.  It took us all a minute to get past the sentence, then start asking questions.  The week before the celebrations begin, the family comes to the cemeteries to do this, but most families pay someone to clean the bones for them.  This is what we could figure out, although there are still some questions that never got clear answers.  When a family member dies, their body is put in a casket & then into the ‘grave’.  Most of these are above ground like in the photo you see below.  After about 3 years, when the body has decomposed, they go back & pick out all of the bones…every single little tiny piece & place them in a box.

The grave site is then reused for the next family member.  You can see on the photo below, all the people that have died & have been buried here at one time or another.

The little ‘doors’ that sit near the top are sometimes used as an altar with photos & flowers, but sometimes this is where the box of bones go.  Some doors had little locks on them.  

Initially, it seemed like such a strange & foreign & weird tradition to us.  But, then you remember here in the States, it’s been a custom for years to dress up the dead body, do it’s hair & make up, the set it out in a room for everyone to walk by & look at & even touch or hug if you want to.  We all may have different traditions & we don’t always understand them, but in the end, one is not creepier or stranger than the other.  It’s all about respect for those whom we’ve loved & are now no longer part of the living.  Another way we are all more alike, than different.

This part looked similar to what would be our mausoleums back in the US.

After our time at the cemetery, we walked back to the Villa…just a little over a mile away.

A florist shop!

While some worked, I lazily sat by the pool & had a drink in one of the many outdoor spaces at the Villa.  Before too long, we all had our Covid results.  We breathed a sigh of relief as all came back negative.  I immediately went through the process online to get my results hooked up to United Airlines to get my way back into the US when my flight left Mexico.  The green light came through fairly fast.  It was nice to have all that over with.

It was time for us all to go to dinner.  I wanted to visit this Mayan chocolate shop before I left Mexico, & I bought a couple of bars to take home to Danny & some chocolate drink sticks to maybe have on Christmas Day.

It was a busy night & so finding a restaurant without a line might have been tricky.  But Sherry spotted one next door to the chocolate shop & they could get us right in.  They had a menu that had both English & Spanish descriptions of dinner…that made it easier!

I had a good margarita & a super yummy shrimp enchilada dish.  We all toasted to Negative Covid Tests!  The new way of travel for sure.

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On the walk back to the Villa, we stopped in a few shops to pick up some souvenirs.  I had made a plan on my first day, & other than a t-shirt & magnet (so predictable), I bought momentos for Claire & Emma.  I was planning on making a “Mexico Box” for them when I got home.  And, of course, I bought postcards for my postcard project for Claire.

The night was lovely as we walked back to the Villa.  Another good day in Merida!

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