Miserable in Merida

May 26, 2007

Despite the post by some random Merida tourism PR person after my last blog entry, we’re still not exactly having a good time in Merida. It’s the first place in Mexico we’re found a bit much. We only stayed in the overwhelming El DF three days, but the first two of those were great; we felt out of sorts right away here.

It’s just really full-on. The traffic is grim, and I don’t just mean on the roads. Even the pedestrian traffic is hard work. We seem to be going through one of those phases where everything’s just a bit stressy. Mexico’s pavements are generally awful, pitted and slippery, but here we don’t seem to be able to navigate the people, let alone the physical hazards. It’s one of those places where you move one way to pass someone, and they swerve the same way right into your path, so you swerve the other way, etc etc etc.

And we can’t find anywhere decent to eat too. All the touristy place seem really expensive; a tout/waiter got us into one place on our first day – we ordered some Yucatan cuisine as we’d heard good things about it. It was bland as heck. The bill was huge. I got my first does of Moctezuma’s revenge. All the other cities we’ve visited have offered great comida corrida, and menu del dia (well-priced fixed meals), but they seem scarce here. How can the city support so many overpriced restaurants?

Food is muy importante for us, we know this very clearly. If we don’t eat, we get snippy and stressed. And argumentative. Here, we just seem to spend hours wandering around stressed and arguing, unable to find anywhere decent to eat. Not that I really should be eating anything other than rehydration salts of course.

Even shopping is stressful here, due to the crowds and the inevitable overenthusiasm of vendors faced with some gringo dinairo. I want to buy one of the classic local embroidered shirts (guayaberas) but vendors shouting at me is never a good start. And when I just wanted a look at a few, the guy went mad running around getting me loads to look at and try on. Thing is, me, I like to think before buying. I’m very rarely an impulse buyer. I hate clothes shopping generally, but having vendors dashing round trying to please me is even worse, it was excruciating – I just want to look, see what’s what, but I felt terrible to say, “thanks, I’ll think about it, maybe later” (in my terrible Spanish) to this poor dude who was so desperate to please and make the sale.

Still, we moved hotels today into a much cheaper place, one of those places where the scruffiness is part of the charm. It’s packed with art and oddments. Oh, and it’s got a pool too, very handy amid all the heat and stress. It’s probably not entirely sanitary, but hey, it’s cool (literally, it aids one in cooling off).

Amid all this negativity and stress (yes, largely self-induced probably, but it’s still there), one highlight today was a visit to the Anthropology Museum. The Rough Guide was sniffy about this place, for its small collection and its lack of English texts. In fact, it has plenty of English (albeit that weird Mexglish that really shouldn’t exist in a context full of academics) and a great collection, that’s informative and interesting without being too much to take in (as in the Mexico City Anthropology Museum).

Best of all, we learned about how the Mayans like to warp the shape of their skulls by strapping poor infants into wood vices while their heads were still tender. Weirder still, being cross-eyed was considered desirable, so they also fitted the poor wee bairns with funny head-mounted mobile thingies – a dongle dangling on a string to focus those young eyes and tweak their young muscles.

Planning our next moves now. More ruinas tomorrow. There are just too many of them in this area, so we reckon we’ll just focus on Uxmal, then visit Chichen Itza from Valladolid, our next stop in a few days. As for Merida, we’re looking forward to sunday when they apparently stop traffic from entering the central square (thank heavens) and place is full of music, dancing and, um, more vendors to shout at passing gringos.


2 Responses to “Miserable in Merida”

  1. Sounds awful. When I chanced upon this post I thought it referred to Merida in Spain (a place which holds delightful memories for me – so I was glad, in a way, it didn’t!)

    An entertaining blog and best wishes for your future travels.

    Kind Regards


  2. Never been to Merida in Spain. Not even been to mainland Spain – mad, we do all this international travel without even knowing a lot of what’s closer to home. Definitely need to explore Europe more. Heck, I don’t even know vast chunks of my old home country (UK).

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