8. Merida, Mexico…November.2021

Day 8 11.6
The alarm was set for 4:15am, but I didn’t need it.  I’d slept about one hour & had been laying awake for a long long time.  I got up at 4am, slipped into the bathroom to change clothes & brush my teeth.  I’d set my bag & everything in the living room the night before, trying not to wake up Sherry as I moved around.  Bridget & I were on the same flight to Houston, & also the same flight to Denver.  There she would head home & I would have a long long long layover.

She’d scheduled an Uber to pick us up at 4:45am, & he was there right on time.  We made it to the airport around 5am, only to realize the first check point didn’t open until 5:30.  So much for showing up the recommended 2 hours prior for international flights.  So, we waited.  Going through that line was easy.  Then there was a random kiosk that looked like you should stop at it, but no english signs or any sort of barricade stopping you from bypassing it.  But, we stopped anyway.  Glad we did, because this is where you turn back in the immigration form you were given when you came into Mexico.  You swapped them the form, for a stamp in your passport.  This line took forever, because the two people in front & lost their forms.  But, we eventually made it through & to our gate.  Before you board the plane, you have show you received the stamp from immigration.

The flight to Houston was uneventful, as you always hope flights are.

Then we landed in Houston…an airport I hope I never have to go through again & will honestly say is pretty horrid & super inefficient.  

The droves of all of us headed to the immigration lines first.  Boy, were they long.  At least 200 people or more in long lines snaking through worse than the most popular ride at Disney…although not many happy faces like you see in the theme park.  

I however have my Global entry card….which I wanted to bow down & thank my lucky stars for getting a couple of years ago.  I went to a kiosk, stood on my tippiest-tippy toes to try to get my face in the capture part of the screen, pressed a button then proceeded to a line of 5 people.  That was great.

We were all witnessing a super cranky & very mean Border guy shouting shit to travelers.  We all were hoping none of us would get him next.  Thankfully, I had a nice guy that just compared my face to my passport & I was sent through.

Not many signs around telling your where to go or what to do, but I just followed the crowd.  Eventually, I came to a fork & took the opposite way of the Exit sign.

I had to go back through security…seriously?  Everyone in Mexico had been so nice & kind, even though I couldn’t speak their language & I didn’t always understand their currency.  So, far I’d been back on US soil for about 35 minutes & witnessed the mean Border guy & now was face to face with a mean & surly security guy…gee.  Welcome back to the cranky team at USA Houston airport.  And, to top it off, there’s no TSA Pre-check line here (as yelled by Security guy “I’m not going to say this again…we have no TSA Pre-check here!”)  

Ya…I was not packed for no TSA line.  But, I sent my bag through anyway & walked without my shoes through the metal detector.  My bag & a few in front of me & several behind me all got flagged for a tortuous screening….& one person to do all those bags.

After a 15 or 20 minute wait, another employee came to help.  She said it was my unopened package of M&M’s that caused the problem (really?  not my liquids?  my wet swimsuit? my kindle?)  whatever, I was glad to cram by stuff back in my previously neatly packed bag & get the hell away from there.  Yes IAH…I hope to avoid you for the rest of my life or until you get better!!

My next stop (thank goodness for a longer layover here) was the United counter.  They got me on an earlier flight from Denver to Kansas City…or that’s what they said (but as it turns out later, not actually what they did…I think.  Very confusing.)

As I was approaching my gate, finally, I met up with Bridget.  She’d had to wait in the long immigration line.  We still had time for an EEE-PA (an IPA) & to chat for about 30 minutes before boarding our flight to Denver.

We landed in Denver a couple of hours later, said our good byes & she headed home & I headed to a gate way down the terminal.  

The United agent at the gate was great…but couldn’t find me on the earlier flight.  Then she couldn’t find me on my original later flight.  Uh-oh.  But, within a few minutes, she had found or fixed or whatever, but she nicely handed me a new boarding pass that would board in about 5 minutes.  I’d get home a couple hours earlier….Yay!  Wow!  Aren’t you glad you just spent time reading about my crazy airport experiences?  Yikes!

I finally landed in good old Kansas, but was so glad to see Danny.  We went out dinner (yes, we went for a burger) & caught up.  Then it was home to the cats & I was beat.  I usually unpack the minute I get home, but after more than a 12 hour travel day, I hit the bed & slept like a baby!

How Sisal got it’s name.  
The fiber that was grown on the plantation here is called Henequen.  But the harbor it was shipped from was called Sisal…that was name stamped on the outside of all the boxes.  So, when it was shipped all over the world, Sisal became the name.  It was easier to pronounce & from then on, everyone other than the growers, called is Sisal.  

Confidant Chairs
d see these chairs in every square around Merida.  Raul told us they were made for lovers. But. the design only allowed them to touch hands.   So, maybe really made for datersnot lovers.

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Retrieving Bones
Gabriel told us when his Grandmother died, his father took him to the grave of his Grandfather.  He asked him to go into the grave & pick out all the bones…every single tiny piece.  I asked Gabriel how he felt about that…he said at first he was nervous…worried about spiders & worms. But while doing it, he did feel a direct connection to his Grandfather & he couldn’t say no to what his father was asking him to do.  They took those bones & placed them in the grave with his Grandmother.

A Mayan Tradition
Gabriel also told us most Mexicans living in this area sleep in hammocks.  The Mayan hammocks are made from 
Henequen.  I asked him what families did that had babies or small children.  He has a 2 & 5 year old & they sleep in hammocks too.  He told us that for babies, theres a way to sort of tie it all up & it makes like a little safe nest for the baby.  As we drove through one of the villages, we could see a few families laying in their hammocks.  Gabriel said its so much cooler to sleep this wayno need for any blankets in Merida.

The Library

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Most of the bathrooms we visited did not have toilet seats.  I don’t know why.

The Save of the Day!
The day we went to the first & most wonderful Cenote, when I jumped off the platform, my watch must have jumped off my wrist.  As we were all getting out, I noticed my watch missing.  The water was so clear, even in one of the deepest parts, I was able to find my watch on the bottom from my view up near the platform.  I mentioned it to Bethany & Ben. Ben took on the mission to retrieve my watch.  I told him it was old, not waterproof but secretly I did want it back.  Not only because I didn’t want to litter the bottom of this exquisite place, but I had a connection with my $5 band which was actually a bracelet.  One I’d bought at the makers in British Columbia a long long time ago. He made three attempts, taking a huge breath & a big d
ive & on the last one he came up with my watch!  Yay Ben!  Thank you!  And, in spite of this old watch NOT being waterproof, it was still ticking when I put it back on my wrist.

Speaking of time
When I did my initial research on Merida, I was happy to know it was in the Central Time Zone.  A zone I rarely travel in, but do live in.  However, it was only that way for a few minutes while I was at the airport.  They changed to Daylight Savings time that night, so by the time I arrived at the Villa, I was in Mountain Time.  When I left Merida, I flew back into Central Time & changed my watch to make sure I’d have the right time for departure.  But then landed in Mountain Time when I got to Denver & gratefully didn’t have enough time to the need to change my watch.  Then back at home I was on Central Time Zone…until I woke up this morning with Daylight Savings Time.  I’m so happy to have my watch though, no matter how often I have to change the time on it! (Thanks again, Ben!)

The Stone Plates
Wow…I found a new obsession here in the historic part of Merida.  I’m grateful Sherry & my new friends are kind, because I became fixated on the Stone Plates.  I didn’t know what they were when I spotted my first one, I just knew I wanted to photograph every one I passed & learn their history. My eyes got so they’d look upward at every corner, I’d run across so many streets & stand on tip toes to photograph these.  I asked questions to both Raul & Gabriel about the Stone Plates & both were generous & knowledgeable about their history.  Gabriel said this is how his Grandfather knew all the corners.

The Stone Plate in this historic district were created before people could read & write as a way to identify the street corners.  Like “Hey, lets meet up at the Dog corner for a beer”….anyway I was obsessed & am taking this on as my winter project to find out more.  They are mounted on the side of some buildings, on the corners.  So, give my imperfect photography a breakthey were all way way up above my little short self; some were taken at night & one with a pesky tree limb in the way.  Hang on, grab a beer or a drink…I captured a lot of Stone Plate photos! 

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Of all the many Stone Plates, this is the one that has us all stumped.  These are supposed to be old stones on buildings…so why the helicopter?  We never could find an answer for this plate, but I’ll be digging deep into these old Stone Plates history…I want to know.

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And, then there was the elephant statue.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to find it with my neck craned upward at every intersection.  But, that’s another story.

I took 680 photos.
I drove zero miles.
I slept in a bed the whole time.
I could take an amazing shower whenever I wanted.

a BIG thank YOU!
To Sherry
This trip would never have been on my radar.  Thank you so much for including me to visit such a wonderful place; to introduce me to the history of Merida & to see the oldest buildings I
ve ever seen.  To swim in am amazing CenoteI hope I never forget that first oneit was a magical experience.  And to stay in such a cool, quirky & fun Villa.

To Bridget, Bethany & my watch-saving Ben
It was great to getting to trip with you, explore with you, share meals, drinks & lots of laughter.  Thank you…I hope our travel paths cross again someday.

in the end…
I loved this trip! Wow…I will be going back through photos & thinking about this one for a long time. 
I’m so glad I said Yes!  

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