Bon Voyage America, We’re Off to Mexico

Nov. 23, 2021

This morning, we called for an Uber to take us to the airport, and it arrived much more quickly than we anticipated. So we didn’t even have time to say goodbye to our wonderful host Hilary, who was occupied at the moment. Maybe we’ll see her again one of these days.

Everything we think we need to go on a 10 month trip around the world

Our driver was a fellow from Portugal who urged us to visit his country. “I promise you won’t be disappointed”, he told us. He himself is earning the money to move back there. With all the gunplay in the streets, deranged mobs storming the Capitol, etc., he’s had enough of American lunacy and is ready to go home.

We got to the airport and made it through a surprisingly short TSA line, and had time to spare before our flight. Just before noon, we boarded a Volaris flight headed to Mexico City. Volaris is a Mexico-based airline that offers no-frills flights at very reasonable fares. We found it quite adequate for our purposes.

Heading off into the Great Unknown
Who’s ready to fly?

Before long, we were swooping in over the extensive cityscape of towers comprising Mexico City, the largest metropolis on the continent. It looked like the world’s largest board game. Upon landing, we had about a 20 minute wait in line to get through immigration. The agent there basically just wanted to know how long we were going to be in the country, and he issued us a little pass for that number of days (18), which we are to surrender upon leaving.

View of Mexico City from the air

The airport in Mexico City was much more chaotic than the one in Miami, but we managed to stake out a spot reasonably close to where our boarding gate was going to be — though we weren’t certain, because nobody else was either. Almost immediately, we stumbled upon an ATM for Citibanamex, the Mexican edition of Citibank, with which we have an account. Withdrawing funds from this machine allows us to minimize fees. After much deliberation, we decided to pull out 2000 pesos to get us through our time in Mexico. That may sound like a lot, but it translates to about 95 dollars — then again, that really is a lot more in the U.S. because things are so much cheaper here.

The spot where we were waiting had outlets for charging our devices, and there was a free WiFi signal. So we were relatively comfortable; but meanwhile we were struggling to figure out our water purification system. With a sincere desire to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge, we brought along both a water filter to remove unwanted particulates, and a Steripen to kill bacteria. But it took us a while to get the hang of the latter.

Boarding another Volaris plane, we were whisked away to Merida, where we landed about 90 minutes later, at 8:30 p.m. (Loved the sculptures in front of the airport depicting traditional culture of the region.) Had it been a few hours earlier, we might have just walked to our hostel, as it’s only a couple of miles away. But we didn’t want to check in at an ungodly hour, particularly since we were already a bit tired. So we tried bringing in an Uber to the rescue.

Welcome to Merida!

Trouble was, the app went haywire when we tried to signal an Uber to the airport. (We later learned that Uber is technically not allowed to pick up passengers there, as certain other transport businesses have exclusive deals with the airport.) So we walked about half a mile to a restaurant, and had the Uber pick us up there. The driver, whose name was Jose, spoke no English at all, so our discussions with him tended to be a bit succinct.

The hostel is a wonderful old building across the street from a little park — in which there was still some activity going on. In fact, the hostel itself was hopping; there was a special party transpiring in the downstairs common area, and we were assured that the joint wouldn’t always be this lively. The common area, which includes the kitchen and dining tables as well as coffee tables, foosball, hammocks and a miniscule pool, is actually a courtyard partially covered by a roof.

We met some of the other volunteers and guests, who were all quite friendly. Particularly congenial was a volunteer named Ryder, a strapping young lad from Victoria, British Columbia.

After chatting a bit, we went upstairs to our bunks. There are two dorms, one for female guests and one for mixed gender. We of course are in the latter, in a special alcove of four bunks reserved for volunteers. Near us are three bathrooms, all with showers. The beds are quite comfy, and we soon hit the sack, even though the ruckus from downstairs was still quite palpable. But with the aid of some excellent earplugs, we managed to drift off.

The Quest?

To volunteer our services in communities all over the world: teaching kids English, performance arts and other forms of cultural enrichment, drawing on our three decades of experience teaching and performing for kids as Act!vated Story Theatre all over the U.S. With your help, we will be able to reach remote locations and engage children in under-served communities worldwide — and to expand our creative online content. You can support our efforts on Patreon or make a contribution via PayPal if your are so inclined.

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