Calle 5 B #290A x 20A y 60
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443 137 8728
Being a tourist in your own town is one way to see and do things you have on your to-do list but didn’t get around to.
Vacations are also often full of surprises and Staycations are no different.
For all my research and planning, I forgot my pajamas, one of my OTC medicines and a few other things like the tour company did not take credit cards. Luckily, I could use another piece of clothing as sleepwear, Chedraui’s was right next door, and my friend had enough cash to get us through the weekend.
Expectations can be useful or counter-productive. I had high expectations regarding my stay at Fiesta Inn in norte Merida but found the stay a bit odd.
It started with the entrance. You enter the hotel from the street and need an escort to the reception desk one floor up, because until you get your key card as an official guest, a key card is need to put into a slot in the elevator to get it to function. I do understand that the system is part of the hotel's security operations.
The first floor is the reception area, lobby area, the bar, the cafe, and the business center.
Then, once in the room, another 3rd floor room, my lucky floor, you see the wash basin sitting outside the bathroom with a sliding mirrored wall set in front of it. At first, it seemed innovative but even if I carefully washed my hands, water still spilled onto the counter that held the hospitality items, and the mirrored wall was eventually shifted aside and hardly used.
The card system was frustrating. You had to leave the card in a wall slot near the door to keep the lights and AC on. When you wanted it dark, you had to turn off the lights individually, but if you turned off the light over the basin, you could not use any of the lights in the room. The only way to use the bed light was to turn on the basin light which can be too much light for late evening reading. Plus, if you didn’t want AC, you had to turn it off manually. It got confusing.
Fiesta Inn has the smallest bar I have ever seen. It is an island right next to the reception desk and serves as part of the entrance to the cafe just beyond the bar.
On the plus side, the floor staff, room service staff and reception staff were prompt and helpful. Also the room was clean and the AC worked well.
More pluses - Fiesta Inn is next door to Gran Museo Maya. Chedraui, a grocery store, is one block over. Gran Plaza and Merida Gallerias, two shopping malls, are close by and Costco is nearby, if you like shopping. Also, you can catch a bus on Calle 60/Avenue Technologico to centro.
Norte Merida is a modern development with highrise buildings, good sidewalks, but little else to see. Can't help but think it is rather sterile.
On my first night, the kitchen provided a great dinner: Sopa Xóchitl (shredded chicken breast, vegetables, rice, avocado, and savory spices), Fajitas de Arrachaera Pollo o mixtas with refried beans and guacamole. Room service is one of my favorite pleasures when away from home.
I usually check out the cable channels on the hotel’s television. I guess I am hard to please because even with 34 channels that featured soap operas, “News”, movies, cartoons, comedies, history and nature channels with some shows dubbed or subtitled, I found little of interest.
But, I got lucky. I had just watched the movie “New Year’s Eve” at home on DVD, it was showing on one of the channels, dubbed in Spanish. Since I was familiar with the movie’s various stories, I enjoyed watching it again, in Spanish.
Another positive, there was a coffee maker in the room and you could call room service for more coffee packets. But, they did not have decaf coffee packets.
Friday night was spent exploring the area, while I had a great walk, there was not much to see other than shopping malls. While the sidewalks were great, the area is not designed for pedestrians. Be careful crossing the streets.
Saturday morning, I went out again to explore before my friend arrived. When she arrived, we took a swim in the hotel's outdoor pool. While the pool was not very deep or long, it was clean and pleasant. Towels were provided. I love hotel pools.
After the swim, we visited the Gran Museo Maya.
The El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is a wonderful building. I appreciated the design in many ways. The architects beautifully incorporated a walking ramp with a staircase.
Various plantings dot the wide upper and lower plazas. The entrance and foyer are open and combined with the windows that surround the building give a sense of space. Friendly security guards assist you with interactive exhibits and guide guests along the wide corridors from one exhibit or other areas.
The outer design of the upper portion of the museo is symbolic of the Ceiba tree, central to Mayan mythology.
"La Ceiba and the sacred tree connects the world with the underworld and the sky and the shadow as ineffable value in a sun-scorched land but refreshed by the breeze." -- Designlike)
I spent most of my time in the first exhibit about the Chicxulub crater, a crater formed on the Yucatan peninsular by the impact of a giant meteorite or comet billions of years ago. The impact caused major changes in the environment causing of the extinction of the dinosaurs and more. The crater had been "discovered" several times in past but it's existence was not officially announced until 1981 by Glen Penfield and Antonio Camargo, Pemex employees. (See wikipedia link below.)
For more information, consider visiting the Crater museum at Parque Cientifico Technologico de Yucatan.
At the exhibit, I saw my first meterorite. The displays were attractive and informative. Several were interactive.
Then we moved on to the Mayan exhibit. I still find it hard to grasp the scope and diversity of the Mayan civilization. It is going to take years to really understand Mayan history.
The exhibition is well done. Several exhibits are interactive and some displays are beneath the floor under glass. There are replicas of Mayan writing on stone and in rare book form, and various representations of Mayan life. The wall plaques are in Spanish, Mayan and English and some exhibits feature recordings in Mayan.
From the upper windows of the museo, you can see the Fiesta Inn.
We had an early dinner in the hotel’s cafe. We were their only customers, so we got a lot of attention. My red snapper with steamed vegetable was very good. My friend enjoyed her “special” fajitas and margarita.
On Sunday, Tours Sol de Turquoise picked us up for a tour of Dzibilchaltún and Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó, two ruins less than a hour from Mérida. We spent a lot of the day walking but both sites were fairly easy to walk.
Dzibilchaltún (Lugar donde hay escritura en las piedras/“place where there is writing on the stones,”) is my favorite ruin. I've been there four times already. On each visit, I have had a different experience.
On my first visit, I was there at 5:00 in the morning to watch the sun rise and shine through the windows and door of the Temple of the Seven Dolls. This biannual event, on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, highlights the skill and knowledge of the Mayans who studied astronomy, math and other topics. The cenote was closed and the museo was under construction.
The Temple of the Seven Dolls got its modern name because of the seven small carved figures found during excavation of the temple.
On my second visit with my niece, we walked the whole site and saw lots of iguanas and butterflies. We climbed the seating areas and were shown a small alcove where a carved stone had been found and was now in the museo. We dipped our feet into the cenote and fish nibbled our feet.
For those with trouble walking, the main pathway, called a Sacbé, is a roadway made of white stones which may be difficult for those in a wheelchair. Getting down to the cenote is difficult.
Then, we went to the museo. I like the layout of the museo. A person in a wheelchair may have difficulty coming down the stone path leading to the museo but the building has wide doors and a wide floor plan and there are bathrooms at the site.
In the museo, there are many examples of carved stones and graphics that tell stories or glorify Mayan gods. The seven figures found when the Temple of the Seven Dolls was excavated are displayed.
On my third visit with my sister and her husband, we walked the site, inspected the stelaes and the Spanish chapel set in the Mayan game field. They went swimming in the cenote. From where I sat, I could see fish and other aquatic life in the water.
On my fourth visit, I treated two Méxican students studying English to a tour. Getting to the site was an adventure because on the day I choose to go there were no tours or autobuses going to the site. We ran to a calle in Centro to catch a collectivo to Chabekal, a town near Dzibilchaltún. From there we took a motor taxi.
I enjoyed showing them the site.
On this visit, the area around the Temple of the Seven Dolls had been cleaned and you could get closer for a better view of the temple. I loved it. It was as close as I had ever been to the temple.
This time I saw a turkey buzzard come to its nest atop the temple and a red raccoon-like animal (could be a coatimundi) burrowing into the soil for grubs.
Set back from the sacbé is a replica of a Mayan home with a yard, and various everyday tools on display. There is more to see and I have yet to see it all.
From there, we went to Techauc Puerto to see Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó, one of the lesser-visited ruins in the Yucatan.
As you approach Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó you will see salt ponds alongside the road. Xcambó residents harvested salt thousands of years ago and many still do today. Xcambó was a Mayan fishing village as many of the villages along the Gulf of Mexico are today.
The site surprised me. It is big. It is set in woodlands with mangroves nearby.
It runs lengthwise, so when you see the first part of the ruins you are not prepared for the various stone buildings and steps you find further as you walk down the road from parking area. While the walk is easy, wheelchairs may have difficulty with the stony road.
As I walked among the various "rooms," it made me wonder how the rooms were used.
Visiting Xcambó made me want to understand the various types of stone construction methods used by the Mayan over time. It seemed to me that these structures were made in a different fashion.
I loved the woods. Walking about the ruin surrounded by trees gave me a sense of peace.
We completed the tour with lunch at a Progreso restaurant where we had delicious soup and hardy fish and shrimp tacos.
Sunday evening, my friend and I kept running down the hall every 30 minutes, in our nightwear, to look out the window trying to see the lunar eclipse. I got lucky, for a few seconds the clouds cleared and I caught a glimpse of the early phase of the eclipse before the clouds blocked the view. The cloud cover was impressive, it went on for miles.
As with vacations, I came home exhausted and dizzy with a brain full of wonderful experiences.
Gran Museo Maya
Parque Cientifico Technologico de Yucatan
Parque Arqueologico de Xcambó
Updated 1/29/19, 1/30/19