----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: January 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mexico: Cool in the Yucatan

While it is hot during the day, I'm wearing long pants and long sleeves in the evenings. I even dug out a sweater. I'm planning on going to San Cristobal de las Casas, but was a little put off when someone from Finland told me "It was really, really cold" there. I certainly hope that they had been traveling in the tropics for a long time, and were thoroughly acclimated. Otherwise, I'm not going to enjoy it much.

The last few days it hasn't even been hot during the day. It's rainy and cool. I feel sorry for people who are here for only two weeks and came partly because they just wanted to get away from winter, be warm, and enjoy the sunshine.

St. Pete sometimes gets these winter storm systems, and as the days wear on, everyone gets noticably more irritable. Floridians expect to see the sun every day, for most of the day. Even the rainy season only means afternoon thunderstorms that rarely last more than fifteen to thirty minutes. A passing hurricane can mess things up for a few days, with the same grim effect on peoples' attitudes. We all go around apologizing if we happen to talk to a tourist, as if the spoiling of their break to the sun was our fault somehoe.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexico: Merida

Merida is one of my favorite places in Mexico. It was hard to drag myself away from the beach, but I finally managed it. And now I'm having an equally hard time dragging myself away from Merida.

Why do I like it so much? The local people seem to enjoy the city a lot, coming out to dance and wander the old city. Most of the tourists are Mexican, which is nice. I don't feel as if I've been dropped into a gringo enclave.

The location is just about ideal. Besides its own attractions, Merida is a great center for day trips. Besides Chichen Itza, there are many other Mayan ruins within two hours of the city. One can go swimming and snorkeling in several different cenotes (sink holes), visit an old monastery in a town that is painted all in ochre, or go to the beach.

I'm more into wandering, though. I sit in the plazas and listen to music or read, or watch the children play, or pop into an art gallery or small museum for a quick look. It's pleasant and relaxing and suits me to a T right now.

However, Merida has been eliminated from my list of potential retirement homes. Why? In summer the temperatures reach 44 degrees Celsius. Since 40 degress is 104 Fahrenheit, that makes 44 about 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Add high humidity, a general lack of air-conditioning, and high electric rates, and another candidate bites the dust. Isla Mujeres has the same problems, combined with being a bit on small side.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mexico: Dancing in Merida's Streets, and Elsewhere

The tiny woman next to me was dancing. Her feet barely reached the ground from the park bench where we were sitting, but they were moving. Tap-tap, slide, kick-kick, heel-to-toe and heel-to-heel. It was a Sunday afternoon in Merida.

The streets near the zocalo are blocked off on the weekends. They turn into pedestrian walkways, outdoor cafes, music venues, and dance floors. Typical dances are demonstrated, musicians perform on small stages set up near the newly blossomed outdoor restaurants, and everywhere, people dance.

Dance styles range from salsa to what we called the 'pony' when I was a student. The style, however, is not related to the music. Old men hold their hands in the air and snap their fingers to a techno beat, and young people dance however they want to traditional music.

Even the beats are different. When the music is Latin, there are a lot of beats to choose from, so some dance to a major rhythm, some to an underlying faster pace, and some mix the two.

And, as I mentioned, dancing is not confined to designated 'dance floors'. Your waiter might execute a few steps on the way to the kitchen, or a spectator from the back of the crowd may break into dance alone. When this happens, someone usually joins in, creating a sattelite. Grnadmothers carry their grandchildren, tapping their feet and teaching them to snap their fingers. Little kids show off for their parents. Everyone dances in the streets.