Here’s to another adventure
Finally, I was able to catch up and write a little bit about the city in which I am living. All of the pictures that I recently posted are from the last couple days adventures in and around Merida. Friday, we traveled to the Celestun wildlife preserve to the north of Merida, which contains two of the most unique and amazing sights of the Yucatecan coast; flamingoes and the mangroves. Here we played tourist and were able to travel by boat in and around the flamingo bays as well as through the mangroves themselves. This is a huge wild-life preserve protected by the government due to its incredible amount of biodiversity. Due to the fact that the flamingoes are protected, we were not able to get very close. However, even from a distance, the birds are pretty sizable. This was the younger population who stay within the bay for the first couple years of their life, gorging on shrimp and consequently turning their characteristic shade of pink. We were actually allowed to get off onto a board walk that winds through the mangroves later in the tour. This gave a fantastic look at the cenotes that feed fresh water into the saltwater bay around. This mix of agua dulce (fresh water) and agua salada allows for such a huge amount of different organisms to live within the ecosystem. For example, one of the reserve workers pulled a boa-constrictor right of one of the trees and had us hold it! People were allowed to swim in the fresh water pools (they were very beautiful too – you could see right to the bottom of 10-15 feet water) but we did not as a crocodile has been spotted in the past. The rest of the day in Celestun was spent at a nice seafood restaurant right on the beach where I tried ceviche for the first time! (I loved it!) After, we ate we trolled the beach for some shells and played in the water. By the time we left a storm was rolling in, but it gave a great scene for pictures.
Saturday was spent with some friends at the beach in Progresso, where although pretty rainy, we had a good time at another beach side eats ; Eladios. At this restaurant you order drinks and the staff brings you a large amount of botanas (I think of them as tapas). This spread of food included taquitos, tamales, lots of salsa, pan (bread), and was all free of charge as it came with our drinks. I ended up paying around 30 pesos (about 3 US dollars) for a full meal and good hangout with friends. (definitely a tip for travelers to the Yucatan area – if you need an inexpensive meal and like to sit and talk go to Eladios – they are spread throughout the area) After returning from Progresso the group relaxed around the house until evening time when a bunch of local university and medical students came to meet us and talk about the area. We will each be spending about 3 hours a week with a language partner for the rest of our time in Merida as part of our language work. While at this gathering, I met Gerardo, a sports medicine doctor who currently lives in Merida not too far from where we are staying. We talked a lot about Mexico, and its ins – and outs, ups and downs, for the remainder of the party. Mind you this was all in my very much amateur spanish. However, I really noticed an improvement in my speech and comprehension after the night’s end.
Today (Sunday – Domingo) I woke up around 7 to get ready for the Bici-Ruta or Bicycle ride around the city of Merida. This is a relatively new program (5 years according to Gerardo) that closes the major central, north to south street, the paseo de montejo, to cars. People can rent bikes or run down the length of the blocked street clear to the other end of the city (about 8 kilometers). Along the route is a huge amount of food and craft vendors as well as live performances and regular museum visits. Our program here in Merida rented the bikes for us, and we took our time winding down the streets really enjoying the sights along the way. This was a first visit into this part of the city for some people. I and a bunch of friends have taken a lot of trip further and further downtown into the city to learn about the residents and the history. I was kind of alarmed to learn that some of my classmates have only been within a couple blocks of the house outside of our scheduled trips. regardless, I am trying to spread a curiosity of the culture throughout the group… well a curiosity of something besides the clubs which I have heard are a lot of fun as well. As of now, I have found some free time with the siesta (or nap time) part of the day to sit down and write with a cup of coffee that I made. This is such a nice feeling. Our yard at the house contains a small walkway and gardens kept up by one of the house staff; Carlos (a really nice guy, I have had a couple conversations with him). In the back is the palapa which is a Mayan built house in which we have class during the week (I currently am writing in here with the sound of the birds all around me). One of my favorite things is the wildlife and the trees which are all tropical. Seeing as this was my first time south of Washington D.C this was also my first time seeing a coconut tree, palm tree, huge cacti and lots of other things. Geckos kinda run rampant all over (although they really help with mosquitoes) and there is a really large iguana that likes to hang out on the back wall.
All-in-all the house and this city is incredibly beautiful, as I have constantly told the locals, and I am really enjoying my time here within the local atmosphere. These posts should become a more regular occurrence, especially those with pictures… So please stay tuned and enjoy!