Merida Weekend

On the weekends in Merida there is quite a bit to do. First, though, we had to walk for a few kilometers in the heat to see a doctor about my swollen hand, received when some malicious insect stung me at the Labna ruin site; it had hurt like hell on that day, and, when we got home and I put on my glasses, I realised that a stinger had been left behind in my palm. Then my palm started to swell and, as the next day progressed, the swelling started to extend down my arm – time to get a remedy! The doctor, a kindly pediatrician who drove down to the clinic to see me, gave me a prescription for some topical and oral steroids and assured me that nothing in the Yucatan is poisonous … good to know. Today, three days later, my hand is back to normal.

Since we were near the Centennial Park, and its zoo, we decided to visit the animals. Although neither Ty nor I like zoos, this one had received some good reviews on the net.

Unfortunately, these reviews weren’t really justified, since most of the animals are in small pens or tiny metal cages that are, in the case of the large cats and hippos certainly, way too small for them.

I was surprised to see so many big cats here; the zoo has lions (with two new small cubs), leopards, tigers, panthers, and some other small cat species, as well as a couple of hippos, and lots of varieties of deer.

Two of the younger cats, a black panther and a leopard, were playing with one another, while many of the other big cats were pacing neurotically up and down in their tiny spaces, or lying listlessly on the ground in the heat.

The zoo also has a snake display, a couple of crocodiles, quite a lot of turtles, monkeys, baboons, two chimps, and a fairly large aviary, with several peacocks.

All the food stands are designed in the shape of architectural structures from around the world – tee-pees, igloos, a castle, a Greek temple, and a mosque, among them.

We were the only tourists there; the place was busy with local families and their kids, all out enjoying the park.

From Thursday to Sunday downtown Merida is closed to cars,

and hosts music and dancing in the squares and on the streets.

At night, the colonial buildings gracing the downtown main square are lit up beautifully.

This past weekend we saw three descendants of the ancient Maya protesting Mayan treatment by the Catholic church in front of the Cathedral of San Idelfonso. While I was busy photographing the buildings, a hard looking working girl sidled up to Ty and tried to get his attention without any success.

On Sunday, from some local antique dealers whose wares were set up in the Santa Lucia Park, I purchased a tin ex-voto painting from 1951 illustrating a promise to St. Teresa to quit smoking from a selection of several such works on sale. Although there are lots of souvenirs and “mayan” handicrafts for sale here, it’s not that easy to get something authentic. My painting is the middle one in the picture below.

We’ve got two more days in Merida and then we’re off on the big bus to Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya; both of us are looking forward to being back on the beach!

See more pics here and here.

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