A Travellerspoint blog

Yucatán Adventure: Back to Mérida and trip conclusion

View Yucatan 2017 on zzlangerhans's travel map.

We got back to Mérida in time for a late lunch and chose one of the city's more celebrated bistro's, Apoala. It was a different take on Yucatán cuisine from the rustic fare we had been having in the markets, but I was glad we hadn't opted for high end cuisine every day. There was another Mayan site called Dzibilchaltún with its own cenote not far from the city but in the end we decided it would almost certainly be an anticlimax after Uxmal. Instead we dawdled around the center and then got an early start on packing back at our Airbnb.

Every Saturday evening in Mérida they have an event called Noche Mexicana. As soon as we stepped back out of our Airbnb we realized we were in the midst of a fairly big street festival. It reminded me of an American-style gallery walk along with cultural events, vendors, and rides. There were thousands of people walking in the center of town which had been pedestrianized for the occasion. We followed the crowd and came upon various avant garde art installations as well as an audience participation photography exhibit. Our job was to trace something with a light in the air while the photographer took multiple rapid exposures and then overlaid them with computer assistance to create a composite image showing what we had drawn. Most people ended up with random spirals and squiggles. They were shocked when they completed my image and saw I'd drawn Cleo's name perfectly despite having to trace it backwards and turn off the light between the letters. There was a wonderful feeling of energy and we had the feeling we had stumbled onto a local secret few people outside of the area are familiar with.

I had hoped that we might get a quick look at another weekly event called Mérida en Domingo the next morning, but Mei Ling was flatly against it. She was very nervous because we had blown off getting Cleo's passport extended during our first stop in Mérida. There was really no excuse, except that we were enjoying ourselves and probably wouldn't have made it to Progreso had we elected to go to the consulate. I wasn't as worried, figuring it was unlikely that the Mexicans would care and virtually impossible that United States immigration would refuse to let a cute five year old girl back into the country. We'd probably get a stern lecture and be on our way. The whole center of the city was barricaded off for the Sunday festivities which delayed us quite a bit since our GPS kept trying to direct us through the closed streets. Once we arrived at the airport I busied myself with the kids while Mei Ling went to the departure desk to work her Jedi mind trick. Occasionally I took a look out of the corner of my eye and saw her arguing with a succession of people. After about forty-five minutes Mei Ling came back over to us and informed me she had been told there was absolutely no way whatsoever that Cleo would be getting on the plane with an expired passport. I was shocked but we had to decide quickly what to do. I was scheduled to work that night and the next. I could have called out but I really hate to inconvenience my team that way and also I was pretty eager to get back to work and replenish our funds after eleven days of pure spending. Ultimately we decided that Mei Ling and Cleo would stay behind in Mérida and hopefully get the passport extended Monday morning and be on a flight that afternoon. I took the boys and we boarded our flight back to Miami.

It was only a two hour flight so managing the boys on my own wasn't too much trouble. I had plenty of time to wonder if I had done something completely foolish and irresponsible by leaving Mei Ling and Cleo in Mérida. Mei Ling didn't speak a word of Spanish, but all she needed to do was find a hotel near the airport and then get an Uber to and from the consulate in the morning. I think if I'd had more time to think about it we probably would have stayed together and to hell with my work shifts, but what was done was done. As soon as the plane landed I called Mei Ling but she didn't pick up. She called me back a short while later and told me she'd decided to hop on a flight to Cancún instead of staying in Mérida, since they have a consulate there as well. It made more sense for her since English was practically the first language in the Hotel Zone where the consulate was. I found them a resort practically across the street from the consulate and let her tuck in for the night. She was able to get the emergency passport extension on Monday but still wasn't able to fly back until Tuesday evening, so I had a whole two days to worry about her and Cleo while I wasn't working or sleeping. Life with just the boys and Mei Ling's Mom was pretty weird and a little lonely. Of course, there wasn't any need for me to be concerned. The two girls were having a blast at the all-inclusive in Cancún going to the beach, shopping, and getting spa treatments. We learned an important lesson about double-checking our paperwork but in the end we didn't pay too high of a price for it.

Except for the passport snafu I can't think of anything I would have done differently. Ten full days was a perfect amount of time to absorb the Yucatán experience. I was really glad we extended our trip to Campeche, which was the most visually appealing city of the trip and had by far the best market. Mérida is also a wonderful city where tourism recedes to the background of the rhythms of regular Mexican daily life. We went to way more Mayan sites than I had originally planned, but if we had only seen Chichén Itzá we would have come away with a much more cynical perspective than was justified.

I'm sure we'll return to the Yucatán when the kids are old enough to enjoy the adventure park activities and maybe the next time we'll explore the southern reaches of Quintana Roo state. Living only an hour and a half from Cancún by air is too good of a situation to ignore.

Posted by zzlangerhans 16:04 Archived in Mexico

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