Mérida is bloody hot. That’s the first thing I have to say about the cuidad blanca. The second is that it’s not actually that blanca, as all the buildings are painted with beautiful pastels and gem colours.
We arrived at about 8 in the morning, having got a night bus from palenque. Shattered and smelly, we headed to the hostel but sadly we wouldn’t be able to check in fully until 3pm, so we dumped our stuff, got changed and headed to the town centre for breakfast.
Yucatan cuisine is famous for being delicious, but I have to admit I was deeply disappointed by my enchiladas (#foodsnob), as the sauce tasted more of lime than of chile. Gross.
So we would have 4 days in Mérida, with plenty to see and do.
This was our museum day, as we didn’t want to leave Mérida after we had just arrived that morning. The first museum we went to was the museo de la ciudad, a free museum explaining the history of Mérida. It was really interesting and I learnt a lot about the city, plus it was free. Win win..
Then we hopped on a bus to the brand new museo del mundo maya, which we chose solely because the guide book described it as “razzle dazzle”. And it was. It was the most thorough museum I had ever been to, starting with the dinosaurs, covering everything up until the Mayas of today. But it was quite expensive, costing 100 pesos for Mexican residents (yay for being a resident), but 150 for poor Rom who’s lost her green card.
In the evening we went with some British lads from the hostel to go see a game of pelota in the town square. It’s a traditional maya ball game, and they had many versions. In the Finale, they played with the ball on fire!
This was the big one. The wonder of the world. Time to visit Chichen Itza! Keen bean as ever, we got up at 5am (sorry Rom), to get the 3hour bus there. It was so good to go early, as we beat the crowds and the heat. It was very impressive, but at this point I’ve seen so many ruins they sadly don’t have the same wow factor that they used to.
After having spent a few hours there, we decided to head to Las coloradas, a pink beach up on the northern coast.
And that’s where it all started going down hill. We got a bus to valladolid.
Walk to bus stop. Wait for next bus.
Bus to Tizimin.
At this point we realised we wouldn’t make it to the beach. We were now only one more bus journey away, but it was already 4pm . On new years eve. So we wanted to be back in Merida at a decent time. Optimistic however, we can get plans to go visit Ixamal instead, a cute town near Merida, and there was a direct bus we could take.
It was now dark. We had spent 9 hours today on buses, mostly unnecessarily. The bus was pulling into Ixamal, but the last one home would be in about 30 minutes. Plan C. Pretend to be asleep and stay on the bus until Merida, even though we didn’t have the ticket.
It worked. We were home. We got back to the hostel and immediately joined in twitter everyone’s nye celebrations. We played ring of fire, drank tequila (#mexico) and got merry. It was a great bunch, 3 Americans, 3 Germans, a French girl, a Swedish guy, a Yorkshire lad, a Manc and us two Southern brits. (yay for brits!)
We then headed to a club, where I haggled us a group discount (#spanishspeaker lol #cheapskate lol), only 70 pesos for entry and open bar all night. A great night for most of us, here are some quick highlights:
- Rom getting absolutely pissed.
- Rom getting into a feminist rage at a guy who used the word slut, and she then proceeded to punch me in the neck.
- A piñata! Yay!
- Rom losing her phone.
- Ending up in the swimming pool at the hostel after.
- Rom almost drowning in the pool trying to do a handstand. Me saving her.
So yeah, your average NYE to be honest. Although Rom doesn’t remember any of these things.
Cenotes! Unsurprisingly, Rom wasn’t feeling too perky this morning. Nonetheless, we headed off to see some cenotes (quickly popping back to the club to look for roms phone first, no luck). We got a collectivo, a mini bus which leaves once it’s full, to Cuzama, which cost 24pesos. Then we got a mototaxi to the cenotes. Mototaxis are a bit like tuk tuks, but you sit in a little basket at the front of the bike.
Benito, our driver, offered to wait for us there. Bit weird, as we would be gone for about 3 hours in the cenotes. But hey ho, thanks mate.
The tour of the cenotes was amazing. We were in a little cart being pulled by a horse through old farm lands, and we visited 3 cenotes. They’re underground water stored which form naturally in the limestone here (thanks mundo maya museum),and they are beautiful. Mayas use to use them for drinking water, swimming, fishing, and to throw in sacrificed boys between the ages of 3 and 13, as cenotes were seen as a portal to the undersold. Mayas were brutal.
Some of the cenotes were really scary to get into though, as you had to climb down into the dark abyss with a wobbly slippery ladder. No health and safety here. I don’t know how, but some people managed to get small children down the 20metre ladders?! We couldn’t even take our backpacks…
My birthday! Woo! 21! And no better way to spend it than to go to Celestun, a beach town/nature reserve north west of Merida. We went with two other girls from the hostel, Quetzali and Nielli, both Mexican, and together we took the 2.5 hour bus to go see some flamingos. We paid about 300 pesos each to rent a boat (rip off, take up to 8 people to make the cost cheaper. We tried to join with more people but the ticket lady said the boat would be too small, not true).
But we did see flamingos! And pelicans! And mangroves! And the water was so red it looked like blood! So strange but beautiful!
The boat trip lasted about an hour, and then we walked to the beach, a km up the road. It was so hot, so we went to a swim, got cocktails, beer and cerviche (seafood platter). We stayed to watch the sunset then got the bus home.
To end the day, we ordered pizza and chilled in the hammocks by the pool. I need to buy a hammock, they are so comfy!
Tomorrow we’ve got the morning here, then we’re getting a bus to Cancun. Wish us luck!