One of the many restored mansions on the Paseo
On Sundays the Paseo de Montejo is barricaded off on one side to traffic so that families can enjoy rolling down the boulevard on bikes. On one side of the wide avenue artists have set up their paintings, mixed media pieces and sculptures. You can stop and chat with any of them, or just keep strolling, taking in the colors and textures as you go. As I mentioned, the Paseo de Montejo was built in the style of the Champs de Elysees--broad avenues, bordered by trees and grass, those ringed by large colonial houses, many of them restored by private companies, now used as banks and offices. There are events all up and down the boulevard--yet again evidence of a very well-planned tourism industry. There's painting booths for kids, moonwalks, too. We pass a group of tumblers demonstrating their expertise for a circling crowd.
To the left is one of the S-shaped chairs so often found in colonial cities in the Yúcatan. They're quite comfortable, and make it easy to converse with a companion. To the right is a sculpture from the Paseo de Montejo riffing on the same shape and design. These white chairs can be found all over the city in parks and plazas.
Here's one of the many mansions that line the blocks of the Paseo--this one, however, is not restored.
We circle back into town, passing our hotel, dropping into a few shops along the way. We've left this, our last day, to wander the city and check out anything we felt we missed. Mom's interested in local grafts or galleries. So I mark a few on my map and we head down into the main Plaza. We have yet to see the inside of the main cathedral, as it's been closed every other time we've walked by. But now mass is in progress, so it's easy to slip in a spy a bit of the simple stones walls, vaulting huge above the pews, a giant crucified Jesus at the front behind the altar. This isn't the gold plated shrines like in Oaxaca. More attention is paid to the architecture of the building, the shapes of walls, the curve of ceilings--rather than the adornments that sit on those walls.
This makes it look like Mom is trying to break in.
But I assure you she was an upstanding citizen whilst in Mérida.
We sit down for a bite to eat at Amaro, a place that boasts vegetarian fare. A margarita for us both. An order of guacamole to begin. We both order fish, mom's dressed in a cilantro pesto, mine with garlic and lemon. Secretly, I wanted the cilantro pesto, too--but I have a strict rule about ordering the same thing as someone else when I'm on vacation. It just seems wrong--like you're wasting the opportunity to try numerous delicacies the house has to offer. Anyone else do this?
I must confess that my tourism bug is wanning at this point. And perhaps that margarita was a bit strong, too. I have little desire to see much more--let alone trek around in the heat. I've run out of steam, or curiosity, or both! So I beg off from the remainder of the walk--and head back to our hotel, leaving the map with the pinpointed galleries, in Mom's hands. I make a quick stop at Casa Balam--I'm curious what their rooms look like. But then I quietly take a seat next to the pool in a sunny spot at our hotel. I read a bit--and when the heat gets to be too much, I submerge into the pool, palm trees and flowers ringing its edges. Mom returns a bit later, and does much of the same. Perhaps we're both getting a little tired.
However, sticking to our regular schedule, we find energy later that night to pretty up and head out on Calle 60--which again is lined with bands, outdoor spots to imbibe something, as well as tons of people. We pick a place that sits across from a park, two guys playing guitar in the corner. We each have a drink, a gin and tonic for Mom (she's pleasantly reminded how much she likes this refreshing drink) and a beer for me.
It's our last night in Mérida--so we linger at the table a bit, taking in the warm air, the energy from all the people strolling about, the music dancing from every corner. Looking back, writing all this down, I realize how much we did in a week. It was really such fun! Mérida, and her environs have renewed my interest and delight in the Yúcatan peninsula. After such horrid weather back in January, I was reluctant to return. But now I can see what draws so many people here throughout the year. And what luck to have the chance to spend a string of days with my mom--venturing out together, tasting this, dipping our toes in that. It's a rare opportunity, and one my mom was so generous to afford me. Thanks, Mom.