Mexican Thanksgiving

Thu. Nov. 25, 2021

Today was Thanksgiving, but there was no holiday feast as such, since Mexicans don’t celebrate the occasion. Yet we managed to make it a memorable one, anyway.

We again had breakfast duty at Barrio Vivo the hostel where we are currently volunteering, and at about 7:30, before any staff arrived to man (or person) the reception desk, there was a knock at the front door. We opened it to find two young British chaps, loaded down with backpacks, wanting to check in. They had a reservation, and were under the impression that 24-hour check-in was available. Our understanding, however, is that check-in time is not officially until 2:00 p.m. — it can be done earlier if beds are open, but at the moment, we’re at capacity.

So we just had to have them come back later, and offered to let them leave their bags behind. They did leave the biggest and heaviest encumbrances, taking along only a small bag or two, including one with their money. When they returned later, they reported that they’d gone to a café and briefly left a bag on the table while going to the “loo”. When they came back out, they found that someone had stolen all their cash and credit cards from the bag — leaving them with only a single credit card. That’s a sickening thing to hear about, but it’s hard to believe anyone would take such a foolish risk.

First on the agenda today was a free walking tour of Merida, which we took along with two Dutch girls who are staying at the hostel. At San Lucia Square, we met our guide, who spoke excellent English. The first thing he did was just have us sit in the square while he talked a little about the history and geography of the city and the region.

Then we began walking, and he drew our attention to some of the local landmarks, including the Cathedral de Merida, a church that features 6 stones salvaged from Mayan ruins — he pointed them out to us with the aid of a pocket laser. He also recommended a few restaurants, for those interested in such things. Oh, and he told a little folktale about how the jaguar got its spots, thanks to a monkey throwing avocados at it.

The sidewalks in Merida, by the way, tend to be quite narrow, and it can be rather difficult to navigate the heavy foot traffic, without stepping out into the heavy street traffic. The streets also can be rather narrow, with big buses making complicated turns that sometimes take them onto the curb. So drivers and pedestrians really have to look out for each other when walking in some places.

Back at the hostel, we had what might be called our Thanksgiving family get-together. It was our first time ever to meet Kimberly’s cousin Daniel, who’s lived in Merida for years — that was the main thing, in fact, that prompted our decision to come here. Daniel, the son of Kimberly’s birth mother’s brother, recently battled COVID-19, and a serious infection that left him hanging by a thread for several days. Finally, he’s recovering, and was able to meet up with us, along with his wife Debi.

We met for lunch in the cafe at the hostel, and though the meal wasn’t fancy, the occasion made it perhaps the most unusual and noteworthy Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.

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