Late in the morning we arrive in Merida. At the ADO bus station we take a taxi to the hotel we had booked yesterday right before taking the bus. “Hotel Reforma” is right at the city centre and just a few minutes away from the Plaza Grande. Still a little tired, we let ourselves just drop on the bed there. A short siesta. While Verena stays in bed, I decide to have a stroll through the city. Without any plan and half-asleep I get quite stunned by all the colonial-style churches in the area.
Catedral de San Ildefonso
I arrive back at the hotel after about an hour – Ena is awake now. Now we both can explore the city. But first: Some brunch! Across the street we enter “Café Havana” to fill our empty stomaches before we head to the Plaza Grande. The central park of Merida is great to take a break and relax: Many trees there to spend shade and you get to see lots of beautiful colonial buildings on each side. The most impressive are the “Catedral de San Ildefonso” and the “Palacio Municipal”.
I really have the feeling that you cannot get lost here. Though the city seems to be quite big, the streets seem to have been planned on a drawing board and you discover a new park, church or colorful colonial building every few blocks… “Parque Hidalgo”, “Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden”, “Teatro José Peón Contreras”. In my opinion, San Cristobal de las Casas is a bit more beautiful, yet Merida has to offer a lot too.
The Sisal-Hammocks of Merida
Almost next to our hotel there is a store for sisal-products: Countless Panama-Hats* are on display in the window. We enter the Store and get welcomed by a rather small, very lively man. The store owner is running a family business which is selling hammocks and hats now in the 5th generation. We are quite certain that those hammocks here are the genuine stuff made of sisal everyone is talking about. They really seem indestructable! After having a small shopping-spree (two hammocks and a hat for Enas dad as a present) we get back to our hotel to store our “booty”.
Afterwards, we look up some car rentals in the internet and ask about renting a car for tomorrow. We want to visit the “Ruta Puuc” and make stops at the Maya-ruins of Uxmal, the cave-system of Loltun and maybe also at some cenotes.
Cemetery of Merida
Late in the afternoon we decide to head to the large cemetery in Merida. Though we were quite unlucky yesterday with seeing the main Dia de los Muertos-festivities, we still hope to at least catch a glimpse of them today. We take the public bus and get quite straightforward to the Cementario General. Judging from its size it reminds me of the cemetery I saw in Havana… having some huge and partly crumbling mausoleums. Though we once again seem to have some bad luck (We really seem to be clueless, huh ?!), it is definitely worth a visit. The festivities are from 31.10 to 02.11, yet the events at the cemeteries at each city are at different dates: 31.10. in Merida and 01.11. in San Cristobal de las Casas. We simply should have visited the cemetery yesterday after the ziplining-tour. Some really bad luck .
On our way back we reach the main square “Plaza Grande”, where a band just started playing in front of the “Palacio Municipal”. The buildings are partly illuminated and the relaxing atmosphere is quite inviting to have a break at one of the park benches. After listening to them for a while, we decide to walk down the Prado to have a look at the pompous colonial mansions there at night. Eventually, we reach a multi-lane crossroad with a huge Walmart at one corner.
I am always flashed from these huge oversized shopping malls in America. A large selection, sure… but also extreme quantity (3-litre-juice-boxes) !!! Although we buy some snacks for our trip to the Ruta Puuc tomorrow, we discover the bakery department: Jello in countless flavors and tons of cupcake decoration everywhere. Pink/Purple fucking Glitter! The next aisle is stuffed with all kinds of candy… Our shopping cart now resembles the wet dream of an overweight kid . We actually just wanted to buy some snacks for tomorrow and some bottles of Mescal as souvenir…
*By the way: Those Sombreros have actually their origin in Ecuador – so “Ecuador-Hat” would be a more fitting name .