Thursday, December 24, 2009

Das German youth hostel in Valladolid

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Merida. I could almost live there. Sometimes you just click with a town for no real reason. If you asked me why, I could not rattle off too many reasons. There is a lot of public art and I liked the vibe. It does actually have a small American retirement or ex-pat community. I really liked being ignored and not watched as I walked down the street or beckoned into every shop. People didnt start speaking to me in english as soon as I sat down someplace. I could butcher my bad spanish and nobody minded. For my final night, I went back to the town square to watch more dancing in the closed off street. I am a little bit of a Christmas grump at home but I enjoy Christmas in Latin America. I loved it in Guatemala, Brazil and I love it here in Mexico. People aren´t stressing about shopping or snow, they just eat and dance.

Alas, it was time to move on. I only had a week to travel and I couldn´t be the village idiot wandering around Merida forever. Valladolid is another sorbet-colored town (pic above). It is famous for the area cenotes, which are wierd caves and underground pools scattered around the yucatan. I took a two hour bus, going through many small towns. They were typical modest little rough-around-the edges towns you would see anywhere in Asia or Latin America, but many of them were very clean. There was no trash. The houses had peeling paint but someone had cared enough to plant some flowers and mend the fence. I like the way the people dressed in the little towns - it was almost like they had a dress code. They wore the traditional clothes I saw for sale in Playa del Carmen and Merida - the men wear the button-down shirt with the two little striped designs down the front (guyabera?), and the women wear the white dress with the flowers emboridered around the yoke of the neck and on the hem. They have specific names, but I forget what the shirt and dress are called. After many bus rides over the years, I have noticed that all small towns must have the following things:
  • skinny brown mutt dogs that look dead when they are sleeping in the sun, or are pregnant and have 25 nipples.
  • an auto repair shop with an open garage door that is a complete mess with a fat man smoking inside
  • Rosa´s Cocina restaurant, or some variation
  • A store with a large display of plastic shoes
  • a cinder block school with faded pastel-colored paint
  • an inglesia, of course
  • the corner bar with one window
and in this area, a store for pinatas and balloons. I saw a disproportionate number of pinatas y globos shops in Merida and Valladolid. They just love balloons. In Merida, there were people selling balloons from huge bundles of maybe 100 balloons at once. If you spontaneously needed a balloon, that would never be a problem here.

In Valladolid, I checked into the hostel to save some money. Germans and Dutch people love Valladolid, I found. Practically everyone in the hostel was from northen Europe. The guy who checked me in even pronounced my last name the traditional German way - it sounds kind of like Share-ieh-mecccch. Hans and Dieter (well, in my mind that is what their names were) lounged around on the couch and chatted away. It was also the first youth hostel I have ever stayed in where I may have been on the younger end of the average age. I had my own room, and my next door neighbors were maybe in their early 50s. Everyone looked to be between 30 and 60. It was interesting.

I wandered out to get some lunch. I would hate to see the kitchen, but I had some delicious panuchos here:

Panuchos are just flat, fried tacos with refried beans in between two layers of fried tortillas, with a topping (like chicken and cabbage) on top. Delicious.
I walked over to the closest Ceynote in town:

There is even a special breed of eyeless black fish that live in the ceynotes. People go swimming in here. But nobody else was swimming, and the algae and the the thought of eyeless black fish scared me off. (I mean, wouldnt eyeless fish scare YOU off?) In case you didn´t know you were in a cave, they had the international sign for you are entering a cave:

and the virgin of guadeloupe had a shrine in the cave as well:

Unfortunately, the town square was under construction for renovation. It is going to be lovely when they finish it. Here is the church:

the front of my hostel room:

For dinner I had conchinitas pibil again. These were the best ones yet. They gave me a reasonable portion (not like that pile of pork I showed you the other day), and it was amazingly good. The masa tortillas tasted like they were made 5 minutes ago. There was a beautiful atmosphere in the restaurant, too. A lit up fountain and candles. I tried to stretch my meal as long as I could. I caught myself making faces and looking at my fork a little too suggestively after I was tasting the food and I had to stop that immediately. I would make fun of someone else doing that. Anyhow, conchinita pibil - yeah, very good in Valladolid.
At night, in the Plaza right outside the hostel was a mysterious talent show going on. The talent was bad. I bought a couple of cans of beer at the convenience store, sat down, watched and tried to figure out what people were saying and singing. Perfect night out!


Anonymous said...

Amazing as always

Anonymous said...

Hey there. I am now in Puerto Escondido so if you are able to then we should meet up for a game of pool lol. I might travel to manzute tomorrow for a day trip but i am staying here till the 7th Jan. The Spanish guy and his gf are also here so i will contact them next. Be great if we can all meet up. If not then all the best with your travels and work.