I didn’t plan on spending a full month and change in Mérida, but I did, and it was awesome. Melody let me completely outwear my welcome and never once made me feel guilty about it. For someone that I didn’t know terribly well to begin with and hadn’t seen in two years, she’s been incredibly kind and hospitable. I’ve had too much fun with her, Ken, Martha, the dogs, and the many hilarious, interesting people I’ve met along the way: Mexicans and Mexpats alike.
Buenas tardes from Campeche. I am still trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life this trip. I’ve been having a great time because Mérida is a very cool city,my friends here are fun, and Melody has been the most generous host (of all time, seriously, she is the absolute best). I decided to give her the day off, though, and took a bus to the next state over and see Campeche. I got here a few hours ago, walked around, and I feel like I’ve seen it. Very cute place, but not much here. Ken and Martha said a day would be enough. Melody’s friend Amelia advised: “Maybe not even that. A few hours would be fine.” Everyone was right. I’m glad I only booked one night in my hostel.
I’m glad I came to Campeche anyway just to get back into the swing of traveling: booking a hostel, navigating maps, buying bus tickets (my cell phone remembered the WiFi network in the terminal in Mérida from two years ago, so that was neat), etc. I was pretty stationary in Puebla unless you want to count afternoon excursions with the Spanish school. I’ve been pretty stationary in Mérida, too, aside from the clinics and a few short jaunts with Ken, Martha, and Melody. Her house is so beautiful and relaxing, it’s hard to leave it. I will be, however, in just over a week. My aunt and her good friend are vacationing in Puerto Vallarta and I’m flying up to meet them. I arrive a week ahead of them which gives me some time to explore PV and Sayulita on my own. Those were two places I was supposed to visit during my last Big Trip but my plans were thwarted. A little beach time will be nice.
After the beach, maybe I’ll change it up and head to the snow. Or Mars. Time will tell.
This past week I had the pleasure of volunteering for free spay/neuter clinics in three different cities in the Yucatan: Progreso, Mérida, and Valladolid. The clinics are a joint effort between U.S.-based Planned Pethood and local organization AFAD. Mexico has so many street animals and these events help reduce overpopulation while educating communities about dog and cat care. I got involved because my friend Melody has been volunteering with them for years in addition to other animal welfare groups in Mexico. Most people do two or three days but we did all seven because we’re hardcore like that.
Me and Melody on Day One in Progreso.
The clinics themselves are rather like mobile army surgical hospitals. A lot of equipment is brought in and set up quickly in gymnasiums or warehouses, wherever space is found. Veterinarians come in from all over the world for this. There were vets from other cities in Mexico, the U.S., Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Mexican veterinary students serve as technicians. Locals and expats volunteer in many roles. More than 300 animals were sterilized each day so there was a lot of activity and a lot of tasks that needed to be accomplished.
A little update as I desperately try to avoid the news today. I need a mental health break. Let’s look at something happy! Here is a photo of me with my hosts in Puebla, Javier and Anita. They were so sweet to me. I almost cried when Anita hugged me goodbye on my last day.
Javier and Anita.
Two years ago when I was in Mexico, I really only spent one full day in Mérida and I used it to go to Chichen Itza. I really didn’t get a good sense of the place. I thought it was a nice city, but not one I had to return to. So, nothing negative at all, but I still decided it was a bad first impression because somehow I didn’t realize that Mérida is awesome.
Of course, this is partially because it’s here that I was reunited with Ken, Martha, and Melody, my dear friends from Spanish school in Puebla two years ago. We would manage to have fun playing in a giant cardboard box if that’s where we were. But it also helps having people who know the city you’re visiting well and can show you the ropes.