Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Meandering In Merida

I'm not altogether sure that my blogger's block has left me, but at least I feel I have a little something to say again. Maybe because I am currently in Merida and everything is somewhat new and fresh to me.

My first full day here, I decided to walk to the center of town. That is 12 dog leg blocks from where I am staying. Quite the adventure for this little Isla boy who NEVER walks anywhere. The main reason I am visiting here is to take in a real Carnaval festival. I am so tired of that tired one on Isla, I needed something bigger, more vibrant.

My route to town takes me through a little park connected to the church of San Juan. Of course, it, like every other of the hundreds of city parks here, was ready to receive the Carnaval crowds. So what was the first thing I saw upon entering the park?


It is my new, must have junk food. Kind of like Taco-in-a-bag, Mexican style. It is a dorito like chip, smothered in the bag with that fake cheese like you get in airports on nachos. Plus, they add a gob of chopped jalapeno peppers to it!

It has surpassed my love for salchipapas. Something I thought would never happen.

The lovely little church of San Juan. Merida is dotted with churches like this throughout the city.

And it seems every little park has some kind of statue or fountain.

Making my way to centro (slowly!), I entered the large park across from the Cathdral. I never get the name of it correctly. I'm sure a Meridian reading this will note it in Comments. Here is the clock spire on City Hall, as seen from my perspective in the park.

And directly opposite is the spire of the Cathedral itself.

The usual number of dirty hippies were out and about, hawking their clumsily made goods but finding few takers. The vendors from Chiapas, on the other hand, seem to have been elevated from street vendors to market stall holders in this park. Their hand work makes for a vivid display. Although this may be a display of Guatemalan hand work. I didn't ask the ladies their nationality but they looked Chiapan.

As I left the park and started walking the main streets, I came across this enterprising salesperson. No store? No problem. Just dump everything out on the corner and let people scrounge around for themselves. At 15 pesos a pair, I'm surprised there weren't people all over this pile.

Mexico is nothing if not original in their display of goods for sale. Here they are advertising panty hose. Heck, even I would wear these if they made my butt look this good!

Among other things I was looking for, was a store that sold Carnaval glitzy craft items. We had a parade to go to the next night and we wanted to wear masks. People on the floats throw more shit down to you if you have on a mask. I quickly decided that I did not stand a chance at getting a thing from these stores. Look at the lines! And they probably knew what they wanted and how to say it too.

I decided that I would be better off just heading over to Michael's Craft Store (called Michaels Fantasy here) and see what I could find.
I passed by this fabric store on the way. Their windows were full of costume ideas for the crafty among us who know their way around a sewing machine. This was the best I could do on a sunny day through the glass.

Heading back home, the quickest way was for me to cut diagonally through the central park. These Carnaval signs were posted everywhere. Each one sponsored by a different company. Any guesses as to whether or not I sought this particular one out before taking a picture?

For the big parade the next night, we had reserved box seats along the parade route. These were not ours but this shot gives you a fairly good idea by what they mean when they say box seat.

Eight people are crowded into each section. Once in, there is no getting out until the parade is over. If you have to pee, do it before. Another tip. Only allow 6 people max in your box. That way you can fold up the chairs and have more room to jump and dive for the crap being thrown to you. Great fun!
Some of the crowd starting to line up for the afternoon Kiddie's Parade.

I had a heck of time getting into the park. The entrance I needed was blocked by all of this.

While walking down this border street, I noticed a section that had not been enclosed by fencing. Thus allowing the unsuspecting to enter the park. I needed to get in and then exit diagonally on the other side in order to save myself almost 2 extra blocks of walking.

Once in, I started to freak out a bit. Every exit/entrance was blocked just like this one! No way out!

I ended up retracing my steps and going back and around anyway. Heavy sigh. I made it home safely though and ended up having a great time just meandering around.
More to come!


Calypso said...

Hey - Welcome back! Viva La Carnaval. Thanks for the photos.

Nancy said...

I know what you mean about trying to find the shortest path; I do the same thing and it happened to me too in the park. Had to turn around and walk 2 blocks to get to the other side. Sometimes there was a very small walkway next to the bleachers but mostly they were blocked with people. There were vendors selling masks walking the parade route and I kept putting off getting one until I never did. They had cool jester masks and glittery top hats too. Now I'm on Isla and there aren't any.

krisla said...

How does one actually reserve a 'box seat' because I'd like to do that for next year. At least I can be sure where the parade is (unlike Isla...!)

Anonymous said...

hi wayne,

very nice pix! i would love to go to merida someday. theresa said in a post a long time ago that the centre is a lot like old havana-would love to see a place that reminds me of my country.

i got my first chuckle of the day from something steve said on his blog, and got my second one looking at the pix of those mannequins. i remember just about every mannequin i ever saw down there had those shapely butts, if only..... then i noticed that the one in the window is missing one of its middle fingers-pretty funny!

have a wonderful time at carnaval!

teresa in lake stevens

lisa said...

Looks and sounds like you had a great time! Love hearing from you again and enjoy that festival!

Linda said...

I LOVE those textiles by the Chiapas women! Gorgeous colors! I've never seen anything like that offer for sale on Isla... have you?


Ann said...

Great photos, Wayne--glad you're enjoying your respite from Isla!

Jane said...

Wonderful photos Wayne.
We saw the workers putting up all those chain-link barriers the day we returned to Isla. Don't know if I could handle the crowds during Merida's Carnaval, but do so enjoy visiting that gorgeous, well-run city.

Phil said...

Good to see you back posting.

jackie said...

I love seeing the photo of the churches, parks, statues and fountains. Keep up the good work!

KfromMichigan said...

Welcome back! Missed you .. it's good to know you are having a great time and I sure enjoy the pictures!

Anonymous said...

Hi Wayne,

Glad to see you back to blogging once again! Thanks to your very descriptive previous blogging about Merida, I visited the beautiful city last summer and have another trip planned this summer! Thanks again! Enjoy the rest of your stay :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your observations, Wayne. I've been a lurker for several years and have recently realized it's only polite to let you know that. I enjoy your writing and am glad to see you back!

Neil in Olympia, WA