Monday, March 11, 2013

Yucatan trip continued...

By our second day in Mexico, we had adjusted our aesthetic sensibilities, and began to see the humble charm of Merida.  This city is much older than a typical U.S. city, with narrow cobblestone streets and many colonial-style buildings, some dating back to the 1500s.  The streets are very busy with vendors and shops and people rushing from place to place.  There are little Mayan women selling fruit or hand-embroidered napkins with babies strapped to their backs next to modern clothing stores blasting pumping hip hop beats.  We once noticed a little old lady in traditional dress dancing to the modern dance music.  There is a striking mix of modern and traditional all over the city.

It was Sunday, and many stores were closed, so it was less chaotic than when we arrived.  The central square was filled with booths for a folk art/craft market, along with vendors selling all kinds of food, balloons, and toys.  We spent a lot of the day walking around, just enjoying the atmosphere of Merida.  We found very good food at a restaurant called El Chili Habanero.  Every little park was filled with artists and craftsmen and music and even dancing.

The atmosphere became more festive as evening turned to night, and one of the streets of the downtown filled with dancing people.  With the old buildings and the cathedral lit up, smells of food everywhere, and kids running and playing, it felt like a huge party.  And I guess it's like that every week!

On our third day, we checked out and headed to Uxmal.  After checking in at our hotel, we drove farther along the Puuk route and visited a couple of archeological sites.  It was much hotter inland; probably around 90 degrees F.  We headed back to the hotel when we were too hot and hungry to continue.
Kabah, near Uxmal.
When we got back to the hotel, the restaurant was closed.  They told us to go to a nearby resort hotel (same owners) closer to the Uxmal ruins.  We walked over to that restaurant, attached to a much more expensive hotel, and found a buffet lunch in progress.  We were told to grab a plate and help ourselves.  The food was good, but we were shocked when our bill came to more than $50!  Anouk had eaten only a small plate of beans and rice and a few pieces of fruit.  Our lunch cost more than our room, and was the most expensive meal of the entire trip.  Fellow travelers, beware and stop for lunch before you get to Uxmal!

Uxmal was the most fantastic archeological site of our trip.  It was far better than the more popular Chichen-Itza.  Uxmal is open for exploration, vast, well preserved, and we were able to climb one of the pyramids.  Mike and I both studied anthropology in college, so we love visiting places that give us a sense of history.  I especially enjoy the hieroglyphics and relief carvings embellishing the buildings and learning about ancient religious beliefs.
The ticket to Uxmal includes the light show at night.  After swimming and dinner, we walked back to the ruins and Mike and I tried to enjoy seeing how the geometry and design becomes more clear when strategically lit, while Anouk freaked out and begged to leave.  We did give in and took her back to the room, where we all succumbed to physical exhaustion.  Those pyramids don't have escalators.

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