Merida, Mexico…November.2021

It was a Thursday afternoon & I was being interviewed for Jump Podcast by my friend Sherry Ott, who is a professional traveler, blogger, writer, photographer & social media influencer.  After the recording was over, we casually chatted & caught up on our lives including talking about upcoming travels.  I told her I was bummed, because I had nothing, nothing, nothing coming up…not even seeing Claire & Emma.  She mentioned she had planned a trip to Merida, Mexico.  This wasn’t a sponsored or work trip, but just for fun.  She’d rented a super cool & quirky villa.  Her niece was coming & maybe one or two others…then she extended the invitation to me.  I told her it was a long shot…there was the Covid-monster still lurking, I had lots of car repairs & still some needed done…but I would look at flights & think about it.  And get back to her within a couple of days…the trip was coming up in about 9 days.  The following night Danny & I were discussing it & I was telling him all the reasons I shouldn’t go, & then he said, “You’re letting the what-if’s stop you”.  And that statement from him was all I needed to say “Yes”…..I booked my flight within the hour & let my worries go (well, I tried really really hard throughout the following week & mostly succeeded).  And, before I knew it, I was on another adventure.

Day 1 10.30 
I havent been to Mexico since I was a little girl.  I had a relative that lived near the border & my Mom & Grandmother & I went to visit her a few times & cross the borderbut that was so long ago.

Ive been to Canada 4 times…crossing the border by car 3 times & once by ferry.  That, sadly, is the extent of my international travel.  So. Very. Sad.  But, now I was doing this.  I immediately dived into to everything Mexico & specifically Merida.  I read that mostly Spanish is spoken…very little English speakers in Merida.  Most of the currency used is Pesos; sometimes credit cards but rarely US Dollars.  I probably drove Danny crazy speaking my horrible version of Spanish for those 9 days. 

I bought Pesos from my local bank (quite the rip-off) but didn’t want to land in Mexico without any money.  Besides worried about having to extend my trip because of Covid, I was concerned because I had such a short connection from Houston to Merida…only 45 minutes.  Then I would be landing really late at night.  I would have to figure out the Uber or Taxi & arrive in the dark hours of the night.  So much to NOT-THINK-ABOUT.  But, I forged ahead.  And I was getting super excited!!!!

I had called the airlines a few days before my flight to see if I could change my flight to Houston to one that was earlier, so I could stop worrying about the connection.  It would cost me more to change the one flight than it would have for my round trip ticket, so I just left it as it was.  But the morning of my flight, I kept Googling stuff & found out that with United Airlines, you could get on a stand-by list if it was within 24 hours of your flight for free.  Danny was needing to go to the lake this weekend to winterize the place, so we decided he’d drop me off at the airport 4.5 hours early to see if I could fly out earlier & then he could also leave earlier to go the lake.  This worked like a charm.  I got my flight moved up by a couple of hours & marked one worry off my list.

I made it through KCI’s easy TSA Pre-Check security & happily took a seat to wait for boarding.  It was then I got my first notification that my flight from Houston to Merida…my flight I’d been so worried about making the connection was being delayed by 2 hours.  Instead of landing at 9:15pm, I’d be landing at 11:15 pm.  Wow…I was going to get to spend a lot of time at the Houston airport.  

The flight down to Houston was great…small & practically empty plane.  The flight attendants were super conscientious about everyone wearing their masks correctly.  There was no one in my row or the one across from me.

I landed in Houston & could stroll from my terminal, find the train & make it to the international terminal easy.  I found something to eat & had a nice phone conversation with Peter.  Then came the next change…now we’d be leaving at 10:30 & arriving at 12:30.  Yikes!  I found the gate after dinner & waited.  The next change came with a gate change.  Ok…I moved around the terminal & down the hall to another gate.  15 minutes after that, we got moved to another gate.  Then the time of the flight changed from 10:30 to 9:45…& with one more gate change, we were all finally done.  It came time to board & all of us were just so happy the flight wasn’t cancelled.  The next one to Merida wasn’t until the next day at 5:30pm.  

Being flexible is a must if your travel very much, otherwise you’ll ruin your own trips.

I’d been letting Sherry know the crazy changes.  She wanted to stay up until I got there, making sure everything went OK, & while I felt bad this all made her day longer, I was glad someone was going to be on the other end waiting for me.

Once I landed in Mexico, I had to go through Immigration.  This took forever, just because there were only 3 people working this time of night & there were a lot of us.  Then I had to go through another check point & claim I had no cigars, fruit, & whatever else….I was super tired & don’t remember.  

Then I went to the Taxi booth. I was impressed with this.  Uber’s can’t pick up at the airport, so I had to take a taxi.  You go to the booth, tell them where you want you to go, they print you out a ticket, you pay, then go outside to the taxi stand where there is a coordinator.  He takes your ticket & hooks you up with a driver.  The only drawback was it would be a 40 minute wait.

My next stop before leaving the airport was the ATM.  I was going to need more Pesos.  This was super confusing to me & it would be the first time…but certainly not the last, I’d ask for help.  And, everytime, throughout this trip that I needed help, there was some nice person that was generously willing to do so.  Wow…so grateful.  My first bungle was I couldn’t find the English language screen.  The young woman who helped me hit a few buttons on the ATM & it appeared.  I had my conversion chart up on my phone, but then stupidly couldn’t figure out how to get the card into the ATM.  In Mexico, it goes in the long side, not how we do it in the states.  Another first, for thinking there is only one way to do things…I would learn our way isn’t the only way.  Such a good lesson & keeps you open minded & on your toes.  Eventually, with about 6 people behind me in line, I got my money, thought I lost but quickly found my ATM card, got my shit together & headed out to the taxi stand.

I waited & soon my little car pulled up.  True to my research, my driver didn’t speak any English.  I hadn’t re-worked my phone yet to be able to pull up my map (should have done that while waiting in the Houston airport), so was a little nervous when I essentially didn’t know where I was going.  By this time it was 12:40.  I knew the Villa was about 15 minutes from the airport.  He stopped & pulled over & got out to open my door.  It was dark enough I couldn’t see the address, but Sherry knew I was coming.  I asked the driver (not sure how he understood me) to not leave until my friend showed up at the door…& she did within about 3 minutes.  

I was super relieved.  With the exception of the whole Covid nightmare, I was past any worries I’d had when deciding to say ‘Yes” to this trip.  Now, we let the fun, learning, & adventure begin!

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