Saturday, December 19, 2009
Mayans and hard boiled eggs
Friday morning JT and I bid a sad goodbye at the bus station. I took a 4 hour luxury bus north inland to the capital of the Yucatan, Merida. Merida calls itself the center of culture for the Yucatan, I could see immediately that this could be true. Art museums, bookstores, live musical and dancing perfomances every night! Merida also paints a lot of its buildings a multitude of pastel colors, which are beautiful in the hot, bright sunlight. I was happy to arrive to a bustling real mexican town where people were just going about their business. I walked out of the bus station bracing myself, expecting to be hassled and barraged with questions and offers to get me where I was going - but happily this did not happen. I walked about 20 minutes to a hotel that I had seen on the internet a few weeks ago - Luz en Yucatan. Like fate, they had one room due to a cancellation. I told the owner, Tom, that I was just going to take it one day at a time and I didn´t know how long I´d stay. Tom from Colorado, who was about as chillaxed as all the expat hotel owners I´ve met, said "that´s a good idea. And a good way to go through life in general." I took a walk around town, admiring and soaking it all in. One thing I like about Mexico is how they don´t put signs up as much as carefully paint on the building itself. If the painter had a good eye and nice handwriting, it has a nice aesthetic thing about it. There is also some bizarre drainage system that allows for large, dark random, bottomless holes in the sidewalk at various points in town. For many reasons, but probably this most of all, I am not going to drink much when I am here.
My room is twice the size of the Playa del Carmen hotel and I have a private balcony and maybe 20 foot ceilings. The floor and bathroom are old marble. Plants, hammocks, palm trees and a twinkling christmas tree with a tray of various tequilas. I didn´t have any of the tequila but I like knowing it is there. I chose a cute old romantic courtyard place for dinner and tried one of the local specialties, papazules. These are hard boiled egg-filled, pumpkin seed sauce-covered enchiladas. OK....haha.. maybe not the best thing I´ve ever had. I strolled through the streets and stopped to watch the locals enjoying themselves. Near my hotel is the funniest place - there is singing all the time and fake smoke on the stage, but it seems to be a wholesome family place. I am too intmidated to go in there just yet but I know if my friends were here, we would. Merida isn´t that touristy, and I don´t get the sense that people care too much about ripping me off. They may be, but they hide it pretty well. There are more europeans here for sure. And that brings me to my trip today, to the ruins of Uxmal.
I love these trips that throw a bunch of randoms together on a bus. Out of 21 people, there were three americans, four japanese people, some italians, some austrians and a guy from London. Our guide, Juan, is pictured above in the white shirt. I had a cup of chaya, which is a green plant that helps the stomach or whatever ails you. Also joining us on the tour were an octogenerian and his 30-something wife with the biggest, jaw dropping diamond ring I´ve ever seen in person. Uxmal was interesting. There was a wall where you could clap loudly and a wierd bird sound would echo off the wall. I wish Jeffrey had been there, my friend who can clap louder than anyone in the universe. The ancient mayans also played a game where you try to kick around a ball into a percariously placed ring. Sometimes it would take days to get the ball into the ring (and apparently the whole city had the patience to watch), but when it did, people ate and drank for days until they would fall down. Unless I didn´t understand Juan correctly, those mayans were quite dramatic. There were also plenty of phallic symbols scattered thoughout and many cool symbolic animals in the stone. We also went the ruin Koba, which was extremely spooky. The wind whistled and animals howled in the bushes. Between Uxmel and Koba, our bus was sideswiped by another bus when we were both going about 50 miles per hour in opposite directions. It broke part of the windshield and completely knocked off the rear view mirror. This w0uldn´t have been so bad except that I was right in front behind the driver, with no partition. I heard glass break and I screamed and ducked my head, thinking that glass was all over. Luckily nobody was hurt and we could keep using the bus. It was scary. We just continued on the excusion with a half-cracked windshield. I saw the whole thing and our driver was not at fault. Oh well... I am so grateful that I can be at the internet cafe right now, and not having glass picked out of my head in the hospital. But you can put your minds right at ease, because Lonely planet says the hospital is very good here.