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North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Merida
March 12th 2018
Published: March 16th 2018
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From Bacalar to Mérida, it was a 5 hour bus ride, but the bus was comfortable and I enjoyed the ride. I arrived to Mérida at 7PM and walked about 20 minutes to my hostel (Nomadas Hostel). On the way, I say the main square and the city looked very nice. After the check-in, I went back to the main square (5 min walk) and had dinner in a small restaurant. They had exactly what I needed : a good chicken soup with rice. Perfect! :-)

Since I had been feeling better since midday, I went from the restaurant to the main square where a lot was going on. There were people playing drums, dancing typical dances and there was a show of ancient Maya ball play. There I met a few very nice Mexicans : Rachel and her son, Lening, Dina, Rebecca and their daughter. They were all about 40 or 50 years old and very nice people. We talked for a long time and I watched the ball game show with them. It was quite interesting and fun to watch, but at 9 I went back to my hostel. That's when I realized I had changed time zone again : on Bacalar it was 10PM, but here it was only 9PM! Very confusing!

On my way back I walked across very busy streets and saw that Mérida has a huge night life. It's a very nice and safe city and I really liked it. :-)



The next morning, I got up around 7 and had a nice hot shower, but had to discover, that our hostel has only 1 shower for women and 1 mixed shower, while there are 4 showers for men!? The hostel is quite nice, staff is friendly and the wifi great! But otherwise, it’s dirty, breakfast is very average, beds not very comfortable and too spacious so that it’s hard to get to know other people. The good wifi is also a factor for people not getting to know each other, as well as the fact that almost everyone here is German... Not a surprise but boring.



After talking a bit to my mom and my friend Anne, my tour to Uxmal started at 9AM. While I was waiting for the van to pick us up, I met Tobias, also German, who was doing the same tour as me.

In our group, there was a young couple from Taiwan, living in Los Angeles, and a few people from different parts of Mexico. They were all very nice, as well as our guide.



It took us 1 hour to get to Uxmal and there we had to get our tickets and our actual tour started only at 11AM. We got divided into one English and one Spanish speaking group. I went to the Spanish group, since there were less people. Our guide, Jorge, was amazing. He was 43, had studied anthropology and spoke perfectly Spanish, English, German, French and Italian. His knowledge about the Mayan culture was amazing !

He told us about the Mayan calendar and how they count. Maya people were farmers and the tropical climate with many dry and rainy seasons demanded to know exactly about the seasons when to plant, when to harvest, etc. in order to survive. So they started to count days, phases of the moons, stars, etc. That’s what made them such great astrologists, mathematicians and architects. With the Indian civilisation, they were actually the first to have to concept of zero, which made them very smart. They had a bicentinal system, which means they counted everything with the number 20. That way, their year had 18 months of 20 days (= 360 days) and the 5 missing days, they considered as days when the world might end and which they spent essentially in their homes praying and making sacrifices so that the sun would return.

We know, that Maya people made human sacrifices, but in Uxmal has been found no trace of that so far.

The Maya’s gods were all animals, or represented as such at least. Most important for the were birds, representing light, day and upperworld, snakes or reptiles, representing the earth, and jaguars, representing darkness, night and the underworld.

Another very important symbol for the was the tree of life, that connects through it’s roots the underworld with the trunk, representing the earth, and the branches, representing the upperworld.

Jorge told us, that the Mayan civilisation was seperated into clans, like a pyramid, with, on top, a very small group of royals, priests and scholars who could read, write and make interpretations of the stars, predicting what was to come. On the bottom of the pyramid was the large class of poor peasants who were there to serve the upper class.

Nowadays, there is still such a system in Mexico, a small group of very rich people and a large group of really poor people, mostly consisting of the indigenous people. You can say that the Spanish condemned all indigenous Mexicans to be slaves and poor, but, actually, it hadn’t been better for them during Mayan times.



One of the largest buildings in Uxmal has been called the « Mayan monastery » because, for the Spanish, it looked kind of like a monastery.

So far, only part of the city has been restored, most of it still being hidden in the jungle. The city is supposed to have measured 5km2 and so, it was quite big.



People often believe, that it were the Spanish conquerors who caused the decline of the Mayan civilisation, but, in truth, they had been like any other human civilisation, overplanting, overusing their ressources until there was nothing left. The peek of this city, like the of many other Mayan cities, was in the first century A.D. and around 1000 A.D., they started leaving the city, letting it to rot. And that’s how the Spanish found these cities. Sure, they have stolen most of the valuables there, but the Mayan civilisation would probably have disappeared anyway.



The most important god for the people in Uxmal had been the god of rain, because Uxmal has a very dry climate and there is not much water to be found. So the Maya had to use cisterns to collect water in the rainy months for the following dry months. They had developed quite good water systems.



After our tour, we had some time to walk around and discover the sight for ourselves. It was sooo hot that day, we were all dying while climbing up the pyramids....

Then we went for lunch. It was delicous, chaia soup (local plant), chicken breast marinated in oranges (local, sour oranges) and coconut sorbet! We had a nice chat, mostly with the couple from Taiwan. I sat next to our guide who was becoming more and more annoying... He was trying to flirt with me but not stopping, even when I showed no interest in his advances. That’s when he went from an amazing to a bad guide in my eyes.



After lunch, we visited the Kabah ruins, 20 minutes from Uxmal. They were nice as well and there saw trees with the oranges our chicken had been marinated with. We also saw many iguanas. They were huge!



Then we went back to Mérida, all tired from the walking and the heat.

I was feeling rather bad, because of the food we had had at lunch. I should have eaten rice... So I went to Oxxo to buy some tomato sauce with my rice and some soup and planed on staying at the hostel that evening. Well, it always comes different than planed, right? ^^

On my way to Oxxo, there was this guy suddenly next to me, saying : « Hey! I know you! Yesterday you were at the ball game show, I was standing just behind you! ». He was pretty friendly, almost over-friendly. He works at the cultural center of Mérida and gave me a short tour around the zocalo. There was just no escaping him, since he was friendly and I had no reason to say he bothered me. Then he told me to meet him and his friends later at the main square, there would be public salsa dancing, but, honestly, I didn’t feel like going. Many Mexicans in Mérida, it seems, are a bit over-friendly that way...

Back at the hostel, I had dinner and there I met Youssef from Cannes in France. He has been living in Mexico for the last 5 years, has a son here, but is not together with the mother of his son anymore and has just moved to Mérida. We hid it off straight away and went for a few drinks afterwards.

It was a nice evening, I had fun, but was exhausted and went to bed early.



The next morning, I was feeling crappy, still having diarrhea and so I decided to go to see a doctor and stay they day over at the hostel. He prescribed me some antibiotics and other stuff and I spent the rest of the day relaxing.

In the evening, I went for a walk with Youssef and we had dinner together. We had a good time together, but I went to bed early, because the next morning I wanted to get up early.

So, the next day, I got up at 7h, packed my bags and checked out. Then I went to catch a collectivo to the famous cenotes (waterwholes) outside of Mérida. It was about 1h drive and with me, 4 guys from Chiapas good out of the bus to see the cenotes. There was one guy waiting with a mototaxi (= a motorbike with a coach in front) and he suggested that I join these guys, so the tour would be much cheaper for us. They didn’t mind having me there with them and it didn’t bother me either, since the tour costs 300$ which is a lot for one person alone.

And so I met Dario, Fernando, Alexis and Cesar, all very nice guys who were in Mérida for a Taekwondo competition.

In total, we went to 6 different cenotes, very beautiful, almost no other people there and we swim in each and everyone of them. We had a lot of fun together, jumping in the water, snorkeling and the guys teasing each other all the time. Our driver was fun too and he came swimming with us all the time. Nice job, getting money to drive around people and go swimming in waterholes the whole day. :-)

It was really nice, but we were all very exhausted at the end and slept nicely in the bus back to Mérida. They invited me to go visit them if I ever go back to Chiapas and I’ll do that. :-)



Then I caught the first taxi I could find to bring me back to my hostel, pick up my stuff and then bring me to the bus terminal where I had just enough time to buy a ticket and some water before jumping in the 16:40 bus to Valladolid. I was starving, I hadn’t eaten anything the whole day and I didn’t drink enough either, but I was happy to get to Valladolid early.


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