Arriving New Years eve...our settling in week.
Most everyone has heard the expression "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". We reconfirmed this line of thought when we arrived at the America/Economy car rental depot outside Cancun airport. We had booked a mini van on Orbitz for $2.00 a day (yes..unbelievable!) and reconfirmed the price by phone directly with the company in Cancun (three times). When we arrived at the rental location, they advised us that our reservation had been cancelled because they didn't rent at that price......but they could rent us one for a cost that was approximately 10 x what we had reserved. They had us and our luggage and figured they could do a classic "bait and switch". Dara and Andrea took turns ripping a strip (in Spanish) off the manager...which I watched with mounting degrees of glee and then we had them take us back to the airport, thinking we would take the ADO bus to Merida then taxi to the beach house. On the way back to the airport, we asked the driver if he knew of anyone that would drive us to Progreso and by the time we got back to the airport, he had arranged a transfer with a buddy of his. We bargained the price down to what we knew was reasonable and boarded our luxury Suburban. The driver even stopped at the Oxxo (similar to a Macs Milk) where Andrea ran in and purchased a case of Noche Buena beer for Andy and Dara to sample en route!
The ride was going smoothly until, just outside of Merida when I happened to say "look at the time, it's only 2:30 and we're almost there". That must have been the "jinx" because, less than a minute later, we blew a tire! The driver and his companion were stoic and set out to get the spare tire from under the vehicle. Turns out the bolts holding it on were seized, that took 15 minutes to hammer off. That done, they found the lock on the chain holding the tire was also seized.....another 15 of hammering plus some oil from the engine.....very resourcful guys...got the lock open.
When the tire was installed and the vehicle down off the jack, it was discovered that there wasn't much air in the tire.....hence a stop at a "tire shack" to get air. We winced as we watched the fellow put two bare wires together to start an ancient air compressor but it worked well enough to fill the tire and we were back on our way in no time....such is life in Mexico and many other countries. Take a deep breath, smile and enjoy the ride! (love the toilet...thank goodness it wasn't a functioning one!)
On our arrival, the owners of the beach house were there to greet us with a bottle of wine and some fragrant Mexican pastries, which was very sweet of them. After settling in we wandered down the road to John and Maggie's condo where John had prepared a great chicken gumbo for our dinner. We were totally wiped and by 9:00pm headed back to the house and to bed. We woke at midnight when the neighbours set off fireworks, but the sound of the waves soon lulled us back to sleep.
The next day we strolled down the beach to Progreso and sat under a palm umbrella sipping a cold refreshing lemonade (it's made with local limes here). We proceeded to San Francisco (a local grocery store) to pick up supplies for the next day or two then hopped on the local bus back to the house.
This is a lovely old house on the beach, that locals affectionately call "the wedding cake" house.
On Mondy and Wednesdays, Carnival cruise lines docks in Progreso and the local "sucker market" opens for them.
No cooking for us tonight as John and Maggie are having a New Years pot luck with friends and we are invited...just have to bring buns and some pastries.
A wonderful time was had by all and the evening concluded with John bringing out his guitar and singing (with a few of us joining in from time to time!).
A surprise this morning, el norte has blown in and brought high winds and rain...but no worries, Andrea and I headed into Merida to one of the big grocery stores and to Costco wih the gang from next door. It's great sharing the cost of the van and it was a good way to spend a rainy morning.
El norte continued to bring high winds and rain so today was a lazy day!
We woke Saturday to a wind that was dying down and sporadic rain which ended by around noon so we strapped on the flip flops and headed to the small fishing village of Chicxulub for a fish lunch. We made a quick stop at the market for papaya, tomatoes and carrots; the stall owner (who I remember from two years ago) gave us an exotic fruit to try called chico zapote , it was very delicious and we'll probably try to get more. On our stroll we came across some beautiful flowers and some prickly ones too ....see below. I had to take tweezers to get the almost invisible thorns from Andrea's hand....guess they're called prickly pear for a reason!
The tiny Paproullero restaurant in Chicxlub is very unassuming but is famous for their pescado frito or fried fish... Andy enjoyed his whole fish!
On the way back to the house we walked along the beach looking for treasures brought in by el norte...never seen so much red sponge coral in my life! Also, late in the afternoon, the sun shining on the waves was luminous....hard to capture in a photo....
Everyone has been complaining about the recent rain as it's quite unusual for this part of the Yucatan, but today we woke up to bright sun.
Sunday is family day in Merida so we decided to head in and join the festivities. It's an easy trip....we hopped on a collectivo (a 9-12 seater van), that bombs up the road every 10 minutes or so and then in Progreso boarded the coach to Merida, which takes about 30 minutes.
On Sunday in Merida, one of the main roads, Paseo Montejo, is closed to traffic for the morning and is dedicated to bike riders and non vehicular traffic. The main square is filled with families, vendors and food stalls making it a feast for the senses. I always love the balloon vendors and chuckle when I think about our grand daughters and how excited they would be to see so many unique balloons....Dora included!
We sat to rest our legs and bought a snack of Tacos el Pastor. This is similar to shawarma meat, roasted on an upright spit as many Lebanese people were brought to the Yucatan to work on the henequen haciendas years ago. As in many places of the world, the cooking styles caught on and remained..much to our delight, they are delicious. At 1:00pm in the square there is a demonstration of folkloric dancing which is always nice to watch. They demonstrate different syles from across the Yucatan, the ladies wearing extensively embroidered costumes. The huipils, as they are called, are still worn daily by some of the older Yucatanian women today. Merida has the largest historical centre in Mexico second only to Mexico city, it is quite impressive.
If you look closely, you can see the Spanish invader standing on the heads of the local Mayans.
We also wandered over to Parque Santa Lucia to enjoy the dancers and live music. In this park, couples from around the neighbourhood come to dance and socialize. It's always nice to see some of the same people up dancing from year to year! Maybe one year we might get the courage to join our them!
I so love the small side streets with their colourful houses....lots of "beetles" around too!
The street signs in the centre of town are all pictorial as you can see in the tat shop image. This was done originally because when the Spanish took over Merida, the Mayans couldn't read English or Spanish, so pictorial signs of animals were used.
We've had a fairly sedentary week, a walk on the beach to Chicxulub to get yellow tail snapper for our dinner (it was delicious) and another trip into Merida to the dentist to finalize the arrangements for Andy's dental implants. Andrea has also met with the ladies from the organization that helps the children undergoing chemo in Merida and delivered the hats that volunteers back home knit and crocheted...thank you once again!