Uxmal and Merida

7 Jun

Our day started early with a 6 am lobby call for the flight to the airport. As often happens, it was “hurry up and wait” once we got our boarding passes and got through security. We had plenty of time to spare to buy chocolates, buy sandwich lunches for our rushed arrival in Merida, and sit around. On top of that, our 8:45 flight was delayed (bad airplane karma on this trip, I tell you!). After our hour-late arrival in Mexico City, I was paranoid about getting in late to Merida, because we had a 1:00 pm tour lined up. The board said our flight was delayed until 9:05, which didn’t seem like too much to worry about, and that’s about when they did the boarding call. But by the time we were in the air, I think a good 45 minutes had passed since the time we were scheduled to leave. The flight was nice, though. We cut across the lower half of the Gulf of Mexico, where Mexico curls up into the Yucatan.

Our driver was there to greet us at the other end, and he talked at length about the colonial history of the area. There were beautiful trees with orange blossoms everywhere. And Merida is definitely the tropics, complete with sweltering heat, swaying palm trees, lazily circulating fans, and colonial architecture. Our room decor and hotel fall squarely in that design, and are a quite charming change from the modern sterility of the hotel in Mexico City. The staff let us check in right away even though it was close to noon, which was nice since we had a tour that was going to get us back very late. We unpacked a bit and went down to the lobby to wait for the tour. 1 pm came and there was no sign of the van, so I asked the girl at the desk to help me call our new tour company and reconfirm the pick up just to ease my mind. The man from the tour company seemed to think we had not been picked up at the airport. I assured him we had, but now we had a tour to go on. He seemed surprised by this, and told me he would find out about the driver and call back.

Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen. Finally, I went over to the desk and asked the girl to call again. I got the same man, who said he’d been trying to call me and they had a driver on the way to take us to another hotel where we would meet the tour bus. That bus was ready to go and waiting on us last two stragglers. I wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t called about the driver. We had a larger bus that took us all out to Uxmal (pronounced Ooshmal). This is a very ancient Mayan city going back to the classic era before Christ, and before the time when the Mayan culture came under the influence of the Toltecs to the north.

The guide told us that entrance into the site was not included in our fee tour. I reconfirmed this morning that the description on our itinerary says the entrance fee was paid for, but I had no way to argue that yesterday, so we each paid the Mexican equivalent of about 15 dollars to get in.

This site has fascinating architecture, with the mysterious Pyramid of the Magician, a palace grounds, the Great Pyramid (which we climbed), and intricate geometric designs on all the walls. After the tour, we went to a restaurant just off the site and had an elaborate meal of various local courses. The people at our table were very nice, although I could barely speak a word to them. Deborah stumbled through a passable conversation, so we had a good time. After the meal, we returned to the palace ruin in the grounds for the “sound and light show,” which was a dramatic documentary of history of the site, with different buildings lit up just as dramatically in different colors. It was interesting, but again, I couldn’t understand more than a few words.

We realized after our driver left us at the tour bus that we had not confirmed how we were getting back to the hotel. We spoke to the site tour guide about this, and he agreed to have the big bus drop us off there. We got back late, as we knew we would, and hit the hay immediately.

3 Responses to “Uxmal and Merida”

  1. mamculuna June 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    That sounds like such a fantastic place–it’s one I really, really want to visit. My parents drove down there (!) in the 1960’s and I’ve always longed to see it myself. Thanks for the great descriptions.

  2. neshaffer June 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    If you don’t mind my grumbling in between the descriptions. ; )

  3. mamculuna June 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    What’s travel if you don’t get to grumble?

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