After one month in our new homes, we always review our initial impressions with a self-interview. We figured it would be interesting to do another interview after two months... but this time with locals. So over the course of an entertaining day, we went out into the streets of Mérida and introduced ourselves to some random people. There's nothing scientific about the survey which follows, of course, but it was a fun way to meet some Meridians.
On Monday morning, we awoke with an itinerary full of plans and a sky full of clouds. We looked to the heavens imploringly, begging for no rain, but before we'd even lowered our clasped hands, the storms began. And they didn't let up the entire day. Undaunted, we stuck to our schedule, and visited Isla Mujeres' touristy sights. But we'll be honest: this was a miserable day.
Although speeding toward a depressing hegemony, most of the world's Christian countries still maintain some yuletide traditions that are all their own. Jürgen and I aren't big Christmas freaks, but we do enjoy learning how different places put their unique spin on the holidays.
We've been to plenty of strange museums during our travels around the world. An optical illusion museum in Busan. A bordello museum in Idaho. The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul and a phallological museum in Iceland. But there's a new contender for the title of most unique: the MUSA, an underwater museum found off the coast of Isla Mujeres.
When you're on Isla Mujeres, there's really only one decision with which you'll need to trouble yourself: of all the tantalizing options, where should you plop down your butt for the entire day? We chose Garrafón de Castilla, a small beach club on the southern end of the island.
After 24 hours, we'd seen enough of Cancún and made our way to Isla Mujeres, just a half-hour by ferry off the coast. This island of around 12,000 people has made a name for itself as a sort of anti-Cancún. A place to relax, escape the crowds and bask in the simple joy of being on a gorgeous Caribbean island.
It might be the most popular vacation destination on the Yucatán Peninsula, but Cancún was not a place that Jürgen and I were slobbering all over ourselves to visit. It's Cancún. We already knew exactly what awaited us there... massive hotels lining the beach, drunken college students, trashy theme bars and American-style restaurants. We decided to stay for a single day, just to be fair to Cancún. To give it a shot. Maybe, just maybe, the city's reputation was overblown.
The gate of the Hacienda Temozón functions like a time machine, transporting you to an age when the Yucatán was among the richest areas in the Western Hemisphere. The henequen boom was a period of unimaginable wealth for the Yucatán... if, of course, you were among the lucky few who owned land.
An expansive city with soaring buildings that have somehow retained much of their detail, Uxmal is among the most important Maya archaeological sites. It's about an hour south of Mérida in the Puuc Valley, and we showed up early in the morning after spending the night in nearby Santa Elena.
Kabah was the fourth archaeological site we visited on a very long day dedicated to the Maya ruins of the Ruta Puuc. Our energy might have been low upon arriving, but it's hard to feel listless in the presence of a building like the Codz Poop.