Disclaimer: I promise the vast majority of my posts won’t just be a “daily itinerary” synopsis. But my very first day on the road deserves an exception.
Got in safe and sound Friday night to Merida, Mexico. When I walked into my hostel, the dude at reception immediately greeted me by name. It felt so nice to be welcomed personally, to have someone expecting me, when arriving alone in a foreign country!
The air is dry and smells like a new place to explore. Yesterday I considered my landing day: all I needed to do was change dollars to pesos, get oriented to my immediate neighborhood, and chill. Check, check, and check. Getting acclimated is not an exaggeration here. It is hot. I know it got into the mid 90s yesterday, maybe higher. The general impression I have here so far is the essential aesthetic of Europe but the traveling vibe of SE Asia, and I like the mix.
The city is relaxed, pretty, and feels very safe. I explored on foot and made it to Merida’s Plaza Grande, popped into the Governor’s mansion to check out murals about the Mayan people (very proud, but god the tragico heros and persecution), then ducked out to see the Saturday marketplace. After walking around all morning, hot, hungry, tired, and partially deaf (ears still haven’t fully popped… kept me up in pain the first night and can’t hear right!) I hobbled into Restaurante Chaya Maya, near my hostel and recommended by the staff. It was a little bit of a splurge (about $8USD for lunch), but day one deserves ease and comfort. The place was packed with local families. I got this pork braised in spicy orange, with pickled onions, refried beans, piping hot fresh tortillas, and hot sauce. Mmmm…. just what I needed.
|Food porn for Aunt Peg.|
My hostel is colorful, chill-shabby, and welcoming; I like it. Hammocks abound, there are free classes most days of the week (cooking, dancing, yoga), free breakfast and purified water, full communal kitchen, a beautiful pool, and more. Damn awesome for $11USD a night. I’m staying in the dormetorio de chicas with about 10 other women, but yesterday afternoon it was quiet and perfect for a long afternoon nap. This is one of the reasons I love big trips; there’s actually time to just get adjusted and not be go go go.
|Dormetorio de chicas|
|Hostel center courtyard|
After a blissful sleep, joined in the free cooking class at our hostel kitchen. We made tortillas, squash filling with cream and other vegetables, guacamole, and beans. Only glitch was the gas line malfunctioned in the middle of the class before we could finish cooking, so we waited and asked lots of questions while a guy ran up to the roof and soldered stuff for a half hour. The geckos came out at dusk, climbing all over the bright blue and yellow walls.
After dinner I had planned on a quiet night in, but instead quickly fell in with three guys: an Australian law student just finishing up almost exactly my trip but in reverse, and two New Mexican longtime friends both studying in the Pacific Northwest and midway through traveling Mexico by bike together. We spent the night out at live local music and dancing in a nearby park, drinking beer and eating churros on the curb, and a late night viewing of “Silver Linings Playbook” just in time for the Oscars. It felt really good to prove to myself on the very first day that yes, I can make new friends on the road, even if they don’t actually travel with me, and it can be awesome. So much less worried about getting lonesome now. All in all, an excellent day one.
Today: swam and read in hammocks above the pool with my new friends, visited the modern art museum (where I spent less time contemplating the art and instead considered the logistical challenges of running the organization…), and ate street food in Plaza Grande, which is shut off to car traffic on Sunday in favor of a street fair. As for tonight, we’ll see if it’s quiet or if I get swept up into something again.
|Not me, but totally the vibe this morning… Source: Google Images|