You know, you could not make up some of the stuff that happens to me on my travels. I always end up in the strangest of places and circumstances. Yesterday and last night was one of those prime examples here in Merida. I have been in Merida all week conducting some business here, and meeting with the people at The Yucatan Times.
So yesterday I did not have much to do, I am still at the Trinidad Hotel in downtown Merida, right in the center of town. I thought to myself, it has been a good week for me, a good week for the future of Mahahual, and a good week for human rights in the USA. I decided to go do some shopping, and get some things I needed that I can’t get in Mahahual.
So I started walking around looking for a street I saw earlier in the week, that had a bunch of watch shops on it. I was looking for a cheap plastic or Swatch watch, something that will not rust overnight in Mahahual. So like a tourist, I set out looking, and before I knew it, I was totally lost. Somehow I had ended up in this huge like farmers market or bazaar, they call it here. Hundreds of little shops, restaurants, booths, stalls, and vendors, with people selling everything you could think of. I mean this place was huge, and I was walking around looking for an exit to the street, and kept getting more lost.
There were hundreds of people all around me, and of course like most times, I was the only American, or Gringo, in the whole place. I am used to it by now, everywhere I go I stand out like a sore thumb. And like always, I was wearing my South Carolina Gamecock hat and shirt, and you should have seen some of the looks I got from some of the Mexican people, as I walked by. I bet they were thinking to themselves, “Who is this crazy Gringo, who is way off the beaten tourist path, and what is he doing in here”? I mean this is a side of Mexico that the average tourist does not get to experience, sights, smells, sounds, and all.
Finally, I see some daylight, and I make my way to the street. I find out I am about 20 blocks away from where I started, and I was lost. So I started counting streets, and made my way back to the hotel, hot, tired, and exhausted. I bet I walked 10 miles, and still no watch. I got a good walking tour of old Merida though, and saw some things that a lot of people from the USA will never see.
So I took a shower and a nap. When I wrote up from my nap, I got a WhatsApp message, that is how you communicate here a lot, especially Mexican women, they use it all the time. It was a Mexican female friend that I had met earlier in the week. She said she was coming to town, and did I want to meet to get something to eat at this place she had told me about. She said we could eat, and then she had to meet a friend who was leaving the next day I think, and needed to go say goodbye. I said no problem, I was tired and not in the mood for a long night anyway.
She then said we could meet at 10:30pm for dinner at this place around the corner from my hotel. I thought to myself, damn that is kind of late for me for dinner, but it is the custom here, so no problem for me. So we met for dinner, great nachos, and listened to some salsa music, of course, while we ate. Just as we were finishing dinner, she leans over and tells me, the guy she is supposed to meet is outside the restaurant, and he is waiting for her. Now how this guy knew where were eating is beyond me, but I told her don’t worry, go ahead and go, I will pay the check, and I will talk to you later. She then said she would see me the next afternoon sometime. Now this is not the first time this has happened to me, a guy show up, and I am sure it will not be the last.
So after she leaves, I start back to my hotel, with the thought of taking it easy, maybe just hang out in the room or something…. wrong. As I got back to my hotel, I noticed in the bar across the street some live blues music being played. I decided to go in, maybe have one beer, listen to some live music, and then walk across the street and turn in, wrong again. I was sitting at the bar having a beer, when I noticed these two young women, and two young guys beside me drinking a pitcher of beer through four straws at one time. Now in all my days, I have never seen this before. I then asked them if any one of them spoke English, and to my surprise, they all spoke perfect English. Come to find out, they are all graduate students here in Merida.
So we started talking and having some drinks, and before I knew it, they said they wanted me to go to another bar up the street with them that stayed open later. They kept insisting that I go with them, to this other bar, and it would be fun. I had a couple of drinks with them, so I said why not.
As we were walking to this other bar, it kind of hit me, these guys with the girls, are not with the girls, they are both gay. No problem for me, “live and let live”, is my motto. So we walk to the bar the whole time speaking English, and they are telling me what they study and stuff. So as we get to the bar, I look up and it is the same bar that I went to with my salsa dancing friend earlier in the week. I tell the women, look this is the bar where the woman I just had dinner with hangs out, and maybe I should not go in, because she might be there with her boyfriend, and I did not want to start any problems, or make it look like I was checking up on her. They laughed and said “This is Mexico”, don’t worry.
As soon as I stepped in, who did I see, my salsa dancing friend that I had ate dinner with earlier, there with her boyfriend. Again this is not the first time this has happened to me in Mexico. So I did my best sleuth imitation, and kind of snuck around the other side of the building, to avoid running into them. I told the group I was with, see I told you she is here, and this is going to be awkward. They thought that was hilarious, and asked me, where is she, I told them, she is here with a guy like I thought.
The place was so packed, I had no idea if she saw me or not, I just hung out with my group and listened to the music and took it all in. We had more drinks, and the next thing I knew, the lights came on and it was like 3:30am, and the place started to empty out. I told them I had a good time, and thanked them for inviting me along, even though I was old enough to be their father. We exchanged email and phone number information , and I walked back to my hotel all alone, to call it a night.
I have not been out like that, and partied like that, in a long time. Today I am feeling it, hung over, tired, and sore from walking and bumping into people all day and all night. But I am glad I got to experience what I did last night. I got to meet some young Mexican graduate students, who accepted me, and treated me very well, and were very respectful, and intelligent. They added greatly to my time here in Merida, and I will never forget the night I hung around with Mexican college students all night in Merida.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina