Another day in Merida - We'll Follow the Sun - CycleBlaze

December 21, 2018

Another day in Merida

We really hit the jackpot with this hotel!  It is right in the midst of the historical section of town, near all of the things we enjoyed seeing when we first got here 3 weeks ago.  We both slept like logs and woke up refreshed and ready to do a little more exploring of this interesting city. But first, here are a few pics from our great little hotel.

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This is the open courtyard just outside our room. Lovely until late that night
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Michael ReynoldsI was going to just "like" this, but then saw "until late that night." You didn't get some late night partiers there, or late-night ducks or something?
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2 months ago
Sue PriceYep it was party time!
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2 months ago
These doors are so tall! You can open the top part to let in light and still no one can look in.
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More than enough room for us and the bikes. Always a plus!
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We had a couple of things we had to do today.  One was to mail a couple of letters back to Canada, so our first goal was to find the post office.  Turns out it is in an area of town that is just chock a block full of little shops and markets.  As it is very near Christmas, everyone it seemed, was out doing their last minute shopping and the sidewalks and streets were jammed with people and cars.  Normally I don't like being in giant crowds like this, but it was actually quite fun!  We navigated to the PO and mailed off our letters, then meandered back towards the park.  I had looked at a dress in the shop next to our hotel in the morning, thinking that it might be nice to have something a bit nicer to wear to dinner for Christmas and New Years than my shorts, but he didn't have the right size.  So, this gave us a purpose as we wandered in and out of stalls and shops until I came upon the perfect thing!  You will have to wait to see a pic, but I like it a lot and so does Jim.

Cute, but no room in my bag for them
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This was a rare empty section. Jim shot video of the crowded bits so unfortunately I can't post them but trust me, it was CROWDED!
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 Purchase made, we wandered back over to the Cathedral de San Idelfonso which sits on the Grand Plaza.  We had looked in and taken a few pics on our first visit, but had not realized that this particular church had some interesting history, including having used some stone from a nearby Mayan temple for part of the structure.  I wanted to see more of this, so in we went.  We were standing, looking around when a very nice gentleman began chatting with us.  He spoke very good English and explained a couple of things we were seeing, such as the stone on the floor which commemorates where Pope John Paul knelt when he came to visit this city.  Rafael, as he introduced himself to us, it turns out is a historian (not sure if he's official or unofficial) of all things to do with this church and the history of Merida and he excitedly let us from spot to spot explaining the history of this building.  It turns out that yes, there is stonework from a Mayan temple in the foundation of the church, at the cornerstones, and at the base of the 12 pillars in the church - wow!  He then took us across the street to explain a bit more about the conquistador who was responsible for tearing down the 5 Mayan temples around Merida and for building not only the church but also his home. 

The bottom of each of these columns came from a Mayan temple. If you look closely you can see that the bottom is a different colour.
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This is the front of the home. Interesting facade
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 It was quite the whirlwind tour and we were both overwhelmed with the amount of information that he packed into such a short time.  As he was talking and walking though, I kept thinking, is this guy going to ask us to pay him for his time?  We had not discussed it with him to start with - he just showed up and started talking, so we weren't sure what to do. However, at the end, it turned out well for all of us.  Rafael has a little shop right next to the cathedral where he sells locally made hats (which are made from a kind of dwarf palm tree) and also products made from sisal.  We were intrigued to see how the hats are made - these are hats known as "Panama" hats, even though they are not made there.  The material is taken down into a cave where it is warm and the air very moist.  Here the weaving begins with little children (he was showing us pics of his partner and his own children making them) weaving the very small crown.  After that, the adults take over and weave the rest.  When the hats are complete, they are brought out into the sunshine to dry, then  formed with a machine into the shapes you see in stores.  What makes these hats special is that you can roll them up an put them in your pocket and they retain their shape.  It was very interesting to see how they were made and if I had found one I really liked, I totally would have paid for it - the workmanship was amazing.  However, we were also looking for a table runner and had been talking about finding one to buy and keep as a reminder of this trip, so Raphael showed us how the sisal is collected (this is the green agave we saw coming into town by the way, Bill, so you were correct!) and then woven to create scarves, runners and hammocks.  Sisal is what made Merida famous and brought it so many riches for a time until the advent of nylon rope.  We really appreciated all of the information we received from Raphael and happily purchased a runner which will not only remind us of this trip but also of such an interesting person!  

Rafael and us in his shop, Mercado, right next the the cathedral in the Pasaje Revolution
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Our lovely table runner
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We dropped off our purchases at the hotel and went to a cafe for a chocolate frappe.  Unfortunately for me, I forgot to ask for decaf, and so when we went back to our room for a snooze, Jim managed to nod off but I was not even close.  However, it was nice to rest and read for a time before we headed out for our last dinner in Merida.  We went back to a little place we had drinks before and both enjoyed some chicken mole - Marlene, I am now addicted, thank you very much!  There was a large group across from us having their Christmas dinner and it was enjoyable to watch as they celebrated and gave speeches.  A couple of times they got a little carried away though and knocked the Christmas tree over - oops!

A little later we walked back to the park at it was Friday night and that meant Mayan Ball games!  We had missed it when we flew in and were excited to see the real deal.  However, we were somewhat disappointed when we got there to see that not only were there bleachers for people to sit on, there were also chairs set up in the street and a stage with multiple instruments warming up.  We thought, oh well, may as well stick around and see what this was going to be so we grabbed a couple of chairs and waited for the performance to start.  

After a good long wait (about 45 minutes) the show was begun and wow, was it amazing!  The band was great, the sound was terrific and there were 6 singers (3 female, 3 male) who were really professional!  They sang a whole bunch of Christmas songs, many with a Latin beat and most in Spanish.  In between their performances, a dance group came on and were also just fantastic - it was like watching a smaller version of the Rockettes!  The whole show lasted about 1 1/2 hours and we were entrhalled from start to finish.  

This was the gorgeous backdrop
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Great singers
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Awesome dancers too!
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When the show was over, we wandered the streets for a time, eating one of those yummy crepe looking things we had missed out on in Celestun and taking in the many crafts for sale at yet another market.  

So yummy!
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It was a lovely, lively evening and we were sorry to have to return to our room, but we needed to get up early to set out for Izamal and wanted to get a good night's rest.  Walking into the hotel, we found the one drawback about staying where all the action is... on a Friday night... 4 days from Christmas... where the courtyard outside our room is open to the sky.  Yep, very loud music was drifting into our room.  Oh well.  We turned in anyways, using our great wax earplugs (thanks, sis!) and I stuffed a pillow over my head as well.  We managed to get to sleep and eventually the music died down and we bot slept well.  Tomorrow we hope for a better ride away from Merida than last time!

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Michael ReynoldsAh, now I see about the pool!
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2 months ago
Sue PriceTo Michael ReynoldsAh, you mean the courtyard where the pool is - yep! It was a loud one!
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2 months ago