Stumbling Upon the Marketplace and Visiting an Expat

Sun. Nov. 28, 2021 – Merida, MX

This morning at breakfast, James, who was one of our group on the memorable cenotes excursion on Friday, said goodbye and was off. People come and go here with great frequency — most stay only a couple of days — but we’ve still managed to get acquainted with quite a few of them, and found them all fascinating.

Before the heat got really heated, we took out on an expedition to get groceries. Rather than go back to Chedraui, the supermarket we went to last time, we decided to try one called Aki, which we spotted on our way to catch the collectivo to the cenotes. But on the way there, we stumbled onto something that looked more enticing: a huge, huge marketplace, with stalls offering all kinds of wares. Fruits and vegetables and breads and fish and toys and electronics and on and on and on. It was so extensive that it was easy to get lost in. As we discovered.

Short video of our first view of the Market in El Centro, Merida, Mexico

So we picked up most of the things we needed there, including a bag of chopped vegetables for making a casserole, and a kind of beans we’d never had before. And we just got a few staples like oatmeal at Aki.

This evening, we visited a friend of a friend, an American expat who’s been living in Merida the past few years. She invited us to her house for lunch — it was around 4:00, which seems to be a not unusual time for lunch in these parts. She lives in a picturesque house that apparently once belonged to a prestigious local; the floors are covered with what is known as “pasta” tile. That doesn’t mean it’s edible or comes from Italy. It’s a very ornate, colorful and distinctive design.

The threshold at the entry has a barrier about a foot high to safeguard against flooding. (Hard to imagine flooding being a problem in a climate as hot and dry as what we’ve seen so far, but there it is.) On the living room wall were, among other things, hooks for hammocks — that’s how visiting relatives used to sleep in the old days. They brought along their own beds (hammocks).

This friend-of-a-friend Carol (which is also the mutual friend’s name) served us some tasty homemade quiche and salad, as well as some informed and fascinating conversation. Great to meet her and see this classic Merida home, learning a bit about local history and culture in the process.

On the way back to the hostel, we passed through what might be called the Red Light District of Merida. There were no red lights, but there were working ladies in front of hotels — working even on a Sunday night.

We arrived back at the hostel in time to catch the beginning of jazz night, which is held in the café every Sunday. Nothing formal, of course; just a few musicians getting together and jamming for the enjoyment of anyone who cares to listen. Sometimes they play recognizable tunes, and sometimes they just riff, and sometimes they indulge in what seems to be sonic experimentation from a distant galaxy. But they’re always having fun, and it’s fun to watch and/ or listen. They lead you down some unexpected twists and turns, just like staying at a hostel. Or exploring a city like Merida.

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