We had a pleasant barbecue at our place with friends who have helped us make the move to Mexico. Ribs, sliders and rollers, cole slaw and macaroni salad, onion rings and fries, and popsicles for dessert. Truly American and it was all well received with everyone having had a good time. The next day we had a break from the rain, though still quite overcast, and spent a relaxing few hours with great friends Bruce and Collen at Laguna Bacalar - the lagoon of 7 colours. Wifey thoroughly enjoyed getting out of the house and splashing about in the refreshing spring-fed lagoon water. The beer was cold and the company fantastic. A great day with full appreciation for them making the trip and hauling us up the road a piece.
With nary a break in our schedule, our friend Wendy stayed behind to keep the dogs company whilst we made a quick trip to the city of Merida in the Yucatan. It was our first incursion to Mexico since we drove through in 2009. Not driving myself, I enjoyed the scenery and seeing signs for places with Mayan words like Peto, Tekax, Akil, Oxkutzcab, Uman and more. Lots of villages and even more open country. Driving into Merida we were amazed at how those big buses could navigate such narrow streets. One improperly parked car would have signaled disaster. We did get to see a good portion of the city traveling east to west to the CAME bus station. Lots of old architecture that really demands a revisit and walking tour. The almost 6-hour bus ride was in relative comfort on one of ADO's First Class buses. In both directions we had a midway pit stop at the small municipality of Tzucacab to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink. The cheese empanadas are highly recommended!
Merida is a big city - 970K based on latest census, 12th largest in Mexico, and almost half again as large as Cancun if that helps. Merida is big with the Gringo expats. Per our Taxi driver, they have taken over the old town driving up housing prices and forcing locals to move ever farther away from town. Without rancor and in a most matter-of-fact way described how many locals were moving north and, unlike the expats buying big, old houses, are buying new, "right-sized" houses on the road to Progresso, a fishing/tourist community on the Gulf of Mexico about 30 miles north.
We stayed on "Hotel Row", a bit removed from the old town and nearer our destination. Yes, we succumbed to the Chili's Restaurant across the street. Yes, more than once I'm afraid. On our second day we had front row seating to observe security operations by the Federal Police, the Army, and the Presidential General Staff. Thick as thieves they were preparing for the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his entourage who would be meeting with President Nieto and Govenor Zapata. Fortunately we skipped out before the big arrival so missed the worst of a congested downtown with added security all about. I heard they would even have time, unlike us, to do a little sightseeing at the nearby Mayan ruin of Chichén Itzá. Reason enough there to return one day.
We were there for Wife's MRI (everything's fine). With only a little trouble we found the office, waited a short while for our appointment time (we were early), and paid our bill. Very efficient. We were told that the radiologist's notes, films, and receipt would be available at 6PM that evening or, if we couldn't return, would be delivered to our home within 3 days. They arrived in two. So refreshing for their efficiency and keeping their promises.
On the corner near our hotel was an Oxxo - the ubiquitous 7-Elevens of Mexico. I needed coffee and theirs is very good. While we were inside various Army and "Federales" preparing security for the visit would come in to get a soda or bite to eat. Also there was one guy in military-style dark clothes sporting a revolver and a shotgun, different from the others by the way he carried the shotgun and watched everyone, especially Wifey much to her discontent. His job was security for the money truck stationed outside. This is a common scene around ATM machines when they are being refilled. One or two guys, armed to the teeth, would stand watch whilst one or two others, also armed but carrying the money, would fill the ATM machines. What was especially noticeable was the deference the Federales and Army guys gave to the ATM Guard. My guess is this is not so much due to jurisdiction but that the ATM Guards are armed to the teeth, probably somewhat less trained, and tend toward the trigger happy.
A couple of days of excess air conditioning, some pool and spa time for Wifey, and an idea or two for sauce recipes (thanks Chili's!) and we made our return to Calderitas. The trip was, as I wrote, quite comfortable though better on the way out as we had front row seating which gave a bit more legroom. I admit to now being tempted to try their GL and Platino buses...will have to see where they go. Yes, this trip for us was business vs sightseeing but we look forward to a leisurely return in the near future.
This coming week Khan goes to the vet for what seems to be a persistent ear infection, Wifey likely gets permission to perambulate a bit (but no walkabout yet!), and I get to finish mowing the grass. We can't wait.