Thursday, April 19, 2007

Merida Was Lovely

We left Caye Caulker on the Wednesday before Easter and I had hoped to rest up that evening before setting out for Chetumal early the next day. Not so, Bigness, my hyper spastoid husband, wanted to get on the road and even promised that I could shut my eyes and sleep in the car on the way. (gee thanks) So we set off right away for Chet, not stopping anywhere and arrived just before sunset. A 3 hour drive for most, 2 hours when Bigness is at the wheel. We went straight to the Mall of America for our MacDonald’s Big Mac and fries. Belize is probably the only country with no fast food chains, with the exception of one Subway Sub Shop in Belize City.

After nourishing our Big Mac Attack we went straight to Chedraui to the ADO Bis ticket kiosk only to find that all busses to Merida, Mexico were already booked up until 11:30 the next day. So, that meant spending the night in Chetumal. We wasted as much time as we could at the mall before retiring to the little hole-in-the-wall motel we stay at near the Nuevo Mercado. Sometime that night something started biting me, and bit me all around the base of my spine, on my shoulder and on my hands. I woke up feeling yucky, thinking that my caffeine levels were just low. Luckily I had anticipated the coffee low and had brought a thermos of espresso dark brew from home the day before. It helped some, but what was happening was a histamine reaction to whatever was crawling all over me biting my rass all night. They left Bigness alone, the bugs are not crazy, they like sweet white meat. So, we got on the bus at the appointed time and headed off in first class air conditioned comfort on a 5 hour drive to Merida.

According to Yucatecan history, Merida, Mexico was founded by the Spaniard Francisco Montejo in 1542. When the Spaniards arrived, Merida was a large Mayan city known as T’ho. After conquering (read slaughtering) the Mayans, the Spaniards dismantled all the pyramids and used the huge stones as the foundation for the Cathedral of San Idelfonso (1561-1599) the oldest cathedral on the American Continent. You would never know of the bloody history of the Yucatan in its people today, as it is a peaceful and tranquil, safe state.

We arrived just before sunset to the bus terminal in Merida. The best thing about arriving was the Tourist Information booth with an English speaking guide. Yay! The guide gave us a book called Yucatan Today, which has an online edition, in case you want to check it out with maps and gave us information on several hotels in our price range. We set out on a hotel hunt and found a room available for 1 night at the second place. So we checked in, showered and set off to find dinner as it had been more than 5 hours since our last meal and you know how Bigness goes when his blood sugar gets low, he just might faint from hunger, and he’s too big to be scraping up off the pavement. We had a fantastic Yucateca style mixed grill meal at this place La Belle Epoca. Yucateca food is not too spicy flavored with achiote. Typical Yucatecan food is -

Lime Soup: a chicken broth made with shredded chicken, bits of fried tortilla and lime juice.

Motul Style Eggs: a tortilla covered with refried beans and a fried egg covered in a tomato sauce, peas, chopped ham and shredded cheese.

Chicken or Pork Pibil. This is a Mayan specialty they also serve in Belize. It is chicken or pork marinated in achiote (annatto spice) sour orange juice, peppercorns, garlic, cumin, salt and then wrapped in banana leaves and baked in a pit dug into the ground.

Panuchos and Salbutes: a thick fried corn tortilla topped with shredded chickengarnished with lettuce, tomato and onion. The difference between Panuchos and Salbute is that panuchos have refried beans inside the tortilla.

Poc Chuc: tender slices of pork marinated in sour orange juice then grilled and served with a tangy tomato sauce and pickled onions.

Frijol con Puerco: the Yucatecan version of pork and beans. Chunks of pork cooked with black beans served with rice and garnished with cilantro, radish and onion.

After dinner we walked around the central park area and then retired for the evening.

The next morning consisted of the hunt for coffee to feed my addiction. Honestly, I feel like a heroin addict sometimes. We were instantly rewarded with double cappuccinos at Café Havanna just 2 blocks away from our hotel and towards the central park. After breakfast we set out to find another hotel as it was Easter weekend and many places were completely full. We found another hotel a block away from our last place for $30 U.S. a night with private bath, hot and cold water, air conditioning, cable TV, and clean clean clean and secure with only 1 entrance/exit and set up like a compound.

I am content to be watching, and not doing, an observer, and not a participant. Bigness on the other hand still suffers from overly mobile joints... more on this travelog later.

Supergirl and UNBaby’s vacation was to San Ignacio and then to Roaring Creek in Belize. When I arrived back on Caye Caulker UNBaby informed me that Jesus is alive again and lives in the belly of the Easter Bunny Basket that she and mommy made out of a one gallon bleach bottle, cotton balls and glue and felt. Also that God can see everything all the time except when you’re in the bathroom he can’t see you go pee.


Alexandra said...

very nice trip!
and all that food!.. i just had breakfast but thanks to you i'm hungry again!

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Mary Beth said...

Great report!! Sounds like a lovely time....I am anxiously awaiting the next installment. MB