Sunday, February 12, 2012

The first trip to Mérida

Sorting through papers, I found an old journal from my first trip to Mexico, overland by bus and train with a friend in 1982-83. It's funny reading the first impressions of 23-year-old me.

 Merida, January 24th:Maria Teresa Hotel... it seems so odd. We keep finding coffin shops and funeral parlors next to the hotels we take. There's always the sweet smell of curry when we round the corner next to this one... Progreso tomorrow. This city is very pretty. The man who sold hammocks was very charming... If it rains all the time in Progreso we'll feel at home...

 Rereading this for the first time in decades, I'm surprised  at how few notes I wrote in this journal about Mérida and Progreso. My memories of that first visit have remained so vivid over the years. But this was near the end of a long backpacking journey around the country. I remember being tired of travelling by then, a bit  homesick and missing Tom, who stayed behind in Vancouver. Hard to imagine I was even missing the West Coast rain.

I guess that's why I didn't recognize at the time that some day I would want to bring Tom back to Mérida to stay.

I have such strong memories of the place - the calesas clopping down quiet streets, the abandoned feeling of Progreso in January. I remember our hotel interior had an air of faded grandeur, with a colonnaded second floor balcony, and an old man who every morning slowly pushed a squeegee along the pasta tile floors. I remember the springs poking through the worn-out beds. And nearby, good food, cooked in banana leaves.

I have often tried to remember where the hotel we stayed at was located, and wondered what it's like now. So after unearthing my journal notes I did a quick Google search - found a news story. Yikes!

 Feb, 11, 2011, The Yucatan Times

Of course I see now I've walked past it a hundred times in the past couple of years but didn't recognize it or remember the name. I didn't realize it was such a dive - perhaps the years have not been kind, and it has clearly not become part of the restoration of the historic centre. I will take a peek inside next time I pass.


  1. How great that you journaled. I started travel journals any number of times in the past, but they never got far off the ground past the beginning of a trip. It would be nice now to go back and review my first impressions of Mérida, as you are able to do.

    Anyhow, I have the present, which is wonderful enough. And now my blog is a pretty good journal for future reference, I suppose.

    Do you still journal?

    1. Thanks Marc,
      I do more journal-writing now, partly as notes for possible blog posts, partly just because it helps me keep things clear in my mind. I wish I had been more consistent about it through the years.