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Well, here I am safely in Merida in the Yucatan state of Mexico.  Funny considering a month and a half ago I could not have found it on a map.  At this point, I´ve thoroughly read the Merida part of my Lonely Planet Yucatan guidebook and I´ve even retained some of it.

Flight down was fairly uneventful.  The lines at security at Hartsfield in Atlanta were the worst I´ve ever seen, but apparently they were not all bound for Merida as there were plenty of empty seats on the plane.  I think pretty much anyone flying solo had the option of sitting on their lonesome.

Immigration and customs was an experience I still don´t entirely understand.  The immigration part was fairly straight forward.  It reminded me a bit of the lacadaiscal Italians.  I never really said more than ¨hola¨and ¨gracias¨and here I am, free to roam.  Now customs is the part I failed to understand.  You sent your stuff through an X-ray machine which half the people failed to notice was there and were sent back to.  Then you appoached a row of, I kid you not, traffic lights.  This was seemingly inspired by American game shows.  Because when you got there, you were instructed to push a button.  Red light, go get your bags searched, green light, go on…  Guess which one I got?  If you guessed anything other than red, to the back of the line with you!

The searching, however, was pretty much of the why bother variety.  I opened my bag, she looked at what was on top and walked away.  On a side note, my daypack, which has all my electronics (camera, portable hard drive, phone, etc) in it, got the once over on the x-ray belt in both Hartsfield and here, but never searched.  I was slowing down the line in Hartsfield, tho – made me a tad self conscious!

After finding an ATM and exiting the airport… I proceeded to look for the bus described in the instructions I had to find my Hostel… Taxis…  parking lot… no bus… hmm…  I found a couple also in search of the bus and they got the instructions to find the bus, which involved a couple of blocks.  In the end, we took a Collectivo into town.  This was kind of a large van/bus.  I get the impression these are independent of the buses.  But it brought us into town for about $1 each.  Had a few blocks to walk before parting company with my fellow Americans and then meandered through the main square and up Calle 62 to Nomadas, where I´m staying.  Considering the price of things here, I splurged on a single, which is costing a little over $100 for a week.  One could definitely travel Central and South America fairly cheaply – the dorms are cheaper still.

I have a choice tonight of a bed or a hammock in my room.  There are also some outdoor hammocks.  I kinda doubt I´ll do the outdoor, but I may try the one in my room.  The locals like to sleep in them because it´s cooler to have air moving around your body.  I lay in the hammock for a bit to cool off after my walk.  Did the trick.  Not positive yet that sleeping in one would not end with Mark on the floor, but hey, you live once.

I meandered for a bit after my near siesta and boy do I know now why people here take Siestas this time of the day.  That blazing tropical sun… wow…  I was already a bit flushed from my walk to the Hostel.  I´m glad I applied a generous coat of sunscreen while there because I think I´m already getting some color, which for me is tantamount to a sunburn.  In my wandering I found Paseo de Montejo, a wide boulevard from the 19th century that was built to be similar to the Champs  Elysees in Paris.  I´m starting to get a feel for Merida.  It has a kind of decaying beauty.  Grand architecture, some pristine, but most decaying but doing it in a scenic way.  I hope that paints the proper picture.

The funny thing was I get to more or less the end of the Paseo de Montejo and I see this building that looks somewhat new but done in a very wild and beautiful design.  I knew there was at least one museum along that road so I thought maybe I had stumbled upon it.  Nope, this would in fact be Wal-Mart.  I have never seen such a pretty Wal-Mart in my life.  I got some provisions and some much needed liquids and set back off for the Hostel to make a drop off.   On the way back, I saw the Anthropological Museum, has some Sunday hours but before I even got into town, so that will be another day.   Possibly tomorrow.

I think tonight is going to be more wandering and hopefully after the sun gets a bit lower in the sky and everything looks less harsh, some photos.  Believe it or not, the camera has yet to even come out of the bag.  Tomorrow I suspect will be mainly local wandering.  I´ve got a veritable list of things I want to try to see before the week is out, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, the Puuc Route, and Celestsun to name a few.  Those will all mean day trips out.  Many I can just hop a bus, some I may check into tours through my hostel (one of the winning points in their favor aside from the good reviews was that they also book local travel).  I may even rent a car for the Puuc Route, but if I do, that will be later in the week after I have my bearings.

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