Downtown Merida Yucatan is vibrant and bustling. Lots of activities around every corner and lots of people walking around. It’s surrounded by colonial looking buildings and European style squares around every corner.
I stayed in the downtown area, across the street from the main cathedral. The cathedral pinpoints the center of the city. On weekends, they close off the street in front of the cathedral for events. They also close down several blocks and avenues for miles and make them pedestrian only. Needless to say, driving in downtown Merida, is a nightmare, but walking is perfectly fine.
The city boasts itself as one of the safest places in Mexico with almost no violent crime. The only crime this city is guilty of is this damn heat! You would think walking is ideal for a colonial metropolis but the heat will kill you. It’s unbearable.
Love is in the Air
This weekend they had a tango in the center square. It was absolutely beautiful. The singer was magnificent and the dancers portrayal of love and deceit was worth standing in the heat. I stood there and watched several songs and dances before I felt like I was drying up. I walked to the local OXXO, which is like 711. The lines were about 20 people long but I stood there. I needed to hydrate.
The next day I walked around the city after being dropped off by my family. We drove to the Pink Lagoon or el Lago Rosa for the day. I had half a day to myself and I wanted to make the most of it.
I walked around the pedestrian friendly streets. Took pictures, browsed stores and marveled at the use of space the restaurants now had. It seemed restaurants loved the pedestrian only streets. Many places turned their TVs to face the streets and put their tables outside. The crowds gathered to watch the local soccer matches as people flocked to the restaurants.
At this point the cathedral was now a farmers market. It was filled with many vendors. Selling everything you could imagine. Food, drinks, clothing, ice cream, churros, typical food of the Yucatan. It was delicious.
Since it was my last night, I wanted to eat as much authentic Yucatan food as possible. Food, that my family hardly makes now… I wanted Kibis. Kibis are actually Arabian meat/wheat balls. They’re delicious and I’m not sure why my parent never make these anymore. They used to.
The vendor I bought food from was out. However that did not deter me from buying lots of food.
At home, in California, we make a dish called Cochinita Pibil. It’s one of my favorite dishes. Its traditional to eat it every sunday in Yucatan. However, we only make it for special occasions like birthdays, holidays, etc.
Guess what I ordered? Cochinita Pibil. I stuck with tradition and got a torta (sandwich on french bread) filled with cochinita. I also ordered a Tamale colido. Yucatan has a about of hundred different styles of Tamales and this was just one of them. I also ordered a Panucho. A Panucho, is a tortilla filled with refried black beans on the inside, then fried. We used to make this at home a lot too. Its been years since my family made this. Usually you use the Panucho as a tostada and top it off with whatever you like, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream and the like. Thats how I had mine today. However, you can just have the tortilla if thats your style. I usually just have the tortilla with the thin layer of refried beans inside. As you can imagine, it a thin, easy bite.
I ordered these three things and realized it was probably too much food. I managed to eat it all, get stuffed and only pay $62 Pesos. Thats a little more than $3 USD. $3 for dinner! AMAZING!
I gave them a tip for $8 pesos but they reacted like I forgot my money. Im not sure tipping is widely known yet. Tipping in restaurants is more common though.
As the food coma began to set in, I walked back to my hostel only to be attacked by a flying plastic bag. I dodged it and the old man sitting, watching it all unfold asked me if I was really scared of plastic bag. We both had a good laugh at that. It was the perfect ending to the four days I did here.
I walked to my Hostel. Packed. Showered and headed to bed.
There is so much I didn’t get to see or do, or eat for that matter. Until next time my lovely Yucatan.