Our flights from Puerto Vallarta to Merida we’re relatively uneventful and we arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon. There were obvious differences between Mérida and San Miguel. Mérida is warmer, has far fewer gringoes, is much younger, has far fewer English speakers, and has more free entertainment. On Saturday night in Plaza Principal, they play a modern version of the Mayan ball game. We arrived 30 minutes early as recommended, but all the seats were gone and they were standing three deep by then.The games began with a lot of ritual and explanation that was all in Spanish so it meant little to us. While the rules of the game are unclear to me, the main objective is to hit the ball through a hoop using only your hips. It is very difficult to do and was not accomplished that I could see. There seemed to be secondary objectives such as advancing the ball as deep as possible into enemy territory. After playing the game for about twenty minutes, they then set a ball on fire and tossed it around before spiking the ball through the hoop in a classic basketball move. For a brief video of the ball game and the playing with a burning ball, click here.
Sunday morning many of the streets were closed to traffic so bicyclists could take over the streets. We took a free walking tour of the historic area in the morning. I will cover that tour in a future blog. On Saturday night, the area in front of the cathedral was set up for the ball game. On Sunday it was set up as a giant covered food court. We each had two Yucatan style pork tacos and a coke for less than a total of $5. So far we have both survived!We then had Marquesitas, a Mérida street food treat available in sweet and savory versions. We elected for the sweet version. The shell is made in a special griddle over a propane fire.
Once the shell is cooked, Nutella and cheese are added.Despite the fact that the shell is rolled, it is very crisp and really tasty. Of course, you have to like Nutella to like this one. I can’t wait to try the savory version. There are Marquesita street stands all over town.On Sunday afternoon, there was live music and the seniors in town were dancing in the plaza in front of our hotel just as our guide said they would.Meanwhile, in Plaza Principal, the children were being entertained by Superheroes (you can see two of them in the background). The little girl in blue was having a grand time!
After the children, Mayan dancers took to the streets.They twirled and danced with bottles of beer on their heads. They then upped the ante and danced with a trey holding a bottle and several full glasses on their heads.
Just as the tee shirts say, we are definitely on the fun side of the wall now!