Back home in Austin, Texas there was a rare, intense winter storm going on that locals were calling a “Snowpocalypse” and everyone seemed to be freaking out. By sheer luck, I’d just happened to have decided at the last minute to catch a flight to the Yucatan area of Mexico where the temperatures were nothing short of delightful. The Great Spirit was definitely smiling on me with that fortunate maneuver.
I’d been to the Yucatan several times in the past, but had always flown into Cancun, caught a few waves on nearby Isla Mujeres for a night or two before setting off through the interior. I’d zig-zag my way up visiting new towns and villages all the way up North until I arrived back home in Texas.
Because I always had a lot of distance to cover, I was always in a bit of a hurry and rarely gave the region the time it deserved. This time, I decided to just stay in the Yucatan for a whole month and pick a couple of my favorite cities to serve as a base while I went out to explore nearby towns for the day or the night.
One of my favorite cities in Mexico is Merida. It’s got pretty much everything you need or want, and the Mexican culture there is vibrant. It’s one of the cities that hasn’t been overrun with Walmart, McDonalds, Home Depot, AutoZone, and Starbucks. The markets there are still real Mexican markets and haven’t changed much in the 20 years or so that I’ve passed through. The architecture is rustic but chock full of texture and color.
The people there are some of the most friendly in all of Mexico. Just love that place. If it wasn’t for the incredible humidity in the Summers, it’d be just about perfect.
And, Merida served as an excellent base to go off and explore towns, cenotes, and Mayan ruins throughout the surrounding region. There are these collectivo taxi vans leaving all the time for just a few pesos that’ll take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, and plenty to get you back to Merida. The beach isn’t that far away either.
So, I’d just arrived by bus and was excited to go track down the old hacienda that’d been converted into a hotel. It’s a little rough around the edges, but some of the old Yucatan charm still permeates the property. And, they have hammock hooks embedded right into the concrete walls in case you’re like me and would rather sleep suspended instead of in a bed.
The trouble was, I took a bus to a bus station on the complete opposite side of the city and was totally lost when I arrived. The area seemed somewhat familiar to I headed off for what turned out to be an 18 block hike that also took me right through the middle of a giant market. Normally, that would be cool, but not so much if you’re lugging all your luggage on your back in the balmy, tropical temps and trying to navigate through narrow passages between the raw chickens and papayas on display.
Eventually, I stopped and got my bearings back and knew exactly where I was. Looked across the street before heading for the hacienda and noticed this red plastic chair positioned perfectly against a minimalistic wall in vibrant primary colors. I thought, “Oh, that’s pretty incredible. I better dig my camera out and get a shot.” But, I was so exhausted from the hike and decided to let it go.
I walked a half a block and couldn’t get that image out of my head, “You have to go back and get that shot” “Yeah, I know it was nice, but there isn’t much about it that says Mexico to me. Just the red plastic chair.””That doesn’t matter! It’s an awesome combination that you can’t simply walk away from. Stop being so lazy and go back to get that shot!”
Looked back and saw that there were large groups of local pedestrians coming toward the red chair from both sides and a line of buses as well. In seconds getting that shot would be impossible. It mattered not that my back was about to break from the load, and it my feet already felt like they where broken, I turned back and ran with my pack all the way back to the corner and barely had time to fire off just one shot before the crowds consumed the splendid little primary-colored scene.