Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fidel, the Wonder Dog of Merida

After our stay in secluded, monkey-ridden Palenque (although we never saw them we know those sneaky rascals were out there!) we wanted to change it up and head for the city.  We decided that we would stay in Campeche for a night and continue on to Merida for two nights.  Later, we wished we had stayed longer in Campeche and spent less time in Merida; Campeche was smaller, cooler (temperature-wise) and much more our scene.  Quite a bit of Spanish influence could be seen throughout the city and a giant stone wall surrounding everything still exists along with eight attached guard towers, built after the citizens of Campeche (circa 1600’s) were attacked by a particularly violent crew of pirates.  
The wall surrounding the city with the church steeples in the background
 We pulled into the city after what seemed to be the hardest day of riding (although I know it wasn't Ty's after driving from Reynosa to Veracruz) and, hot and exhausted, decided to stay in the first place we saw with internet, a/c and cheap accommodations.  Turns out it was a perfectly nice place and was located in the best part of town (right next to the town square.)  The owner let us park the bike in the lobby of the hotel; it was quite a feat to get it in but we were very grateful to not have to leave it on the street.  We had spent most of the day stopped in 100+ degree heat on dusty highways while construction crews meandered across the road in their trucks and bored cops stopped traffic to inquire where each driver was headed and we were ready to relax a bit.  After not eating all day, we decided to scarf down some unrecognizable Chinese food from a buffet next door to the hotel.  It wasn’t great but we couldn’t have cared less.

After a shower and a little a/c time, we decided to take a walk down the boardwalk for sunset.  It was nice to see the ocean again and the sidewalk was lined with other people out running, roller blading or just taking in the views.  I think I finally have the Mexican timeline down.  Everyone wakes up around 10AM, has breakfast and accomplishes whatever they can until about 2PM, when everyone disappears until evening (I think that most people take a little siesta because of the heat.)  Then, everyone ventures back out once it has cooled down and hangs out until about 11PM (besides the partiers, of course, who will keep going well into the morning hours.)  Even little kids are out playing late at night which might be unusual at home but is very common here.  We made our way back into the main square (where a beautiful, old church was lit up for the evening) and had to grab some limon ice cream after seeing so many people eating it down by the water.  We went on an unsuccessful quest to find an open beer store, but weren’t completely disappointed as we got to see quite a bit of the city, including several of the towers and the university.

The view of the city from the boardwalk

After an air conditioned night's sleep (which felt so good after Palenque) we made a fairly quick ride up to Merida.  I had made reservations at a highly recommended hostel (Casa Chalia) and was so glad that I did as it turned out to be one of the highlight hostels of our trip.  The proprietors, Rosalinda (from Merida) and Jan (from Belgium), were two of the nicest and most knowledgeable people we have met so far.  They are a married couple who have been running their hostel for about two years.   When they inherited Rosalinda's family home in Merida they left Belgium and decided to run a hostel completely on their own; they have never had any hired help.  Did I mention that they cook and serve and delicious breakfast every morning?  As much as we enjoyed Rosalinda and Jan's company (who, if you were so inclined, you could speak to in English, Spanish, German, French or Dutch fluently...) there was one other little guy whose company we enjoyed the most; his name is Fidel and he is a miniature grey poodle (and one of the funniest/rascaliest dogs Ty or I had ever been around!)  Fidel was living the high life at his palace in Merida and had new people to play with every day...and believe me, he could play for hours. Every morning at breakfast we would spend a solid hour or two throwing him his ball and he would never get sick of it.  He, along with his owners, were definitely the best part of our trip to Merida.  
My new soulmate

Rosalinda, Jan and their baby
Our cute watermelon room at Casa Chalia

 For the right person, Merida would be a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, when we were there it was extremely hot (100+ degrees both days) and very, VERY crowded...not the best combination.  We did, however, find a restaurant (with the help of Jan) that served the best food either of us had had so far and was air conditioned!  The owner of Las Vigas was a nice guy from Pittsburgh and we enjoyed talking to him.  We also made a visit to the second story McDonalds, located right above the craziest market in Merida, for lunch one day.  We watched the flocks of people walking in every direction down below and for some reason it reminded Ty and I both of the second story McDonalds we visited in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Second story McDonald's view of Merida

We said goodbye to Jan, Rosalinda and Fidel after a healthy breakfast of fruit, eggs, bread, coffee and tea and headed out for Chichen Itza, the most famous of the Mayan Ruins of Mexico and one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.                 

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