There is a small shop at the corner of the street selling bananas. I am considering buying a few when I realize that all the shops in the street sell bananas—exclusively bananas. It reminds me of China where one street has only shoe stores, the other one has a row of barbershops, etc.
I am still standing there, at the corner of the busy street, when a man picks a bunch a bananas and hands it to the shopkeeper, who puts it on an antique scale.
“Doce pesos,” he announces.
The buyer seems offended.
The shopkeeper weighs the banana again, more carefully.
“Once cincuenta,” he concedes.
The buyer seems happy and pays.
I smile again at the incongruity of the dialogue. Even for Mexico, fifty pesos is nothing!
We are now in Mérida, a city we’ve stopped in twice (in 2001 and 2003) and of which, strangely, we have no memory of. I usually remember places very well but Mérida is a blank. So we’ve decided to explore it again.
Driving into Mérida was difficult and chaotic. The streets were jammed with cars, taxis and buses and sidewalks were busy with street food stalls and pedestrians.
Once past the zocalo, the streets were wider and quieter and we eventually found our hotel, on Calle 59. We scored a great deal in a posh place for only $44 a night. Life is cheap in Mérida.
Yet this doesn’t mean we are hanging out at the Paseo de Montejo, the local “Champs Élysées.” I’d rather aim for chaotic centro and get lost in the crowd, the noise, the pollution and the dirt.
This is life.
“Aren’t you scared to walk around alone?” a Canadian woman asked me in—of all places!—Porto Morelos. Nope, I’m not. Mexico feels rather safe. There are bad people everywhere but I feel okay here and I have no problem taking Mark with me at the market. It’s chaotic but it’s not dangerous. On a side note, it probably helps that I am a good foot taller than the average Mexican (man or woman)! Sure, when I am by myself, I sometimes hear “amor, amor!” and other catcalls. But they are rather harmless and I don’t slow or pay attention to them.
People are beautiful, in Mexico or elsewhere. And it’s fascinating to observe them working, shopping, walking, eating, etc.
Mérida is an interesting mix of Maya people (some wearing the traditional dress, such as the white embroidered dress) and Mexican of European descent. A lot of locals actually think I am Mexican!