I know all of the bloggers who attended the meet-up have already posted about it, but I still thought I would write my thoughts, random as they are…
Jonna and Mimi’s – We have all enjoyed watching the renovation of their house from start to finish, but I have to tell you it is even more wonderful to see in person than in pictures. The house is elegant in a relaxed way. The high ceilings, paint colors, and furnishings just make you want to come in, have a glass of wine, and hang out with wonderful people until late at night. So, the first night of the get together, that’s what we did. The food was wonderful, we got the full tour of the house, and all of us just talked and talked. Thanks to both of you for all your hospitality!
The presentations – (Theresa, above) We all met at Lin and Pedro’s for the presentations on Friday morning. Their place is wonderful, and I loved how they have hammocks in each room. And unlike Mazatlán, the hammock hangers are built in to the walls in each and every room of older homes. There was more excellent food, and then we got down to business! The presentations were excellent, and I got lots of good ideas to explore. One take away that came out of the meeting was that those of us blogging about México would like to create a portal/brand for ourselves. More about that later.
The city – We love Mérida. It is a very elegant city – you can feel the civic pride everywhere you look. The main plaza is gorgeous, with huge trees and a large open space in the center. Theresa gave us an excellent walking tour, and another day we took bus tour. As in most Mexican cities, the square is very well used, and we did our share of bench sitting and enjoying the shade while people watching. The streets are laid out in a grid that is very easy to figure out, at least in the areas we explored. The city is very modern, too. Handicapped access, garbage and recycling cans and excellent signage for example. They even have a program in Centro where the city will repair and repaint your house facade if you purchase the supplies. So much of Centro is very clean and well maintained. There was very little graffiti. I would love it if some Mazatlán city officials would take a little trip over to Mérida to see how they do things.
The people – Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We walked, bussed, and taxi’d all over the place and never encountered any problems. People take a lot of pride in the city and everyone you talk to asks how you like it. When you answer that you love it, they just beam and nod!
The beach – We took the bus out to Progreso one afternoon. This was our only goof up on the trip, really. Instead of a peaceful exploration of a beach town we had been curious about, we arrived on the last Sunday of two weeks of Semana Santa. The stage was pounding out music, the traffic could barely move, and lots of people were overindulging in a big way. We still enjoyed a beer on the beach under a palapa and our first view of the Gulf, but as night started to fall and we didn’t manage to connect with our friends we bagged it and headed back to Mérida. Oh, and it was SO WINDY! We couldn’t even see through our glasses after an hour on the beach!
Unique to Mérida – The guayabera, of course. Paul bought four! It is just such a smart garment for warm weather. And then there is the huipil for women, of course I had to buy a few, and a dress. They are hand decorated and beautiful, and again, perfect for the climate. Yucatán hammocks are also very special, and since we bought a handmade rug for our sala we didn’t have any room to bring one home. Next time! And we can’t forget Panama hats! Paul and I each bought one, not the finest quality but one step down. I know we will enjoy them this summer, for sure.
The zoo – We went to the zoo one morning. It is free to all, pretty large and has a cute little train running through it (one peso!) We enjoyed the birds the most, of course. It is an old fashioned zoo, with the tigers and lions, etc. sitting on concrete with mimimal playthings and bars in front. There were lots of schoolkids and preschoolers and it was obvious it was a fun outing for them.
The weather – It was over a hundred degrees the first few days we were there, somewhere between 103 and 107. But unless we were walking a long ways we really weren’t hot. It is a very different heat from Mazatlán, more dry I guess. It’s funny, one reason we discarded Mérida as a potential home when we were doing our research was the heat, and then it didn´t bother us. Go figure.
The food – Paul had delicious cochinita pibil once, and awful once. I tried papadzules, and while they were ok, I probably wouldn’t order them again (chopped hard boiled egg inside a tortilla with pumpkin seed sauce.) We had wonderful dinners both at Amaro and at Pancho’s. There was a restaurant (Cafe Club) right across from our hotel that had vegetarian dishes and we ate there a couple of times.
The ruins – We were advised by several people that if we were only going to be able to spend one day visiting ruins, to go to Uxmal. We booked with a tour group, and about 20 or so of us were collected in a van for the trip to Uxmal and Kabuh. While it was nice to be able to sit back and relax in a bus instead of driving ourselves, in the future we will do our exploring on our own with the help of a guide book. The ruins were spectacular and both of us had a great time. Now I want to explore the rest of the Mayan ruins!
Now we are happy to be home, and so are the dogs. There’s a music festival going on here and this weekend is the Triathalon, so no moss will grow on us! See you later.