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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Mexico Part 6

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017
    Valladolid to Merida, Mexico

    A tattered banner in Valladolid, Mexico.
    A tattered banner in Valladolid, Mexico.

    In the late morning, I hopped on a first class ADO bus bound for Merida, the capital of Yucatan state and Mexico’s third largest city, located a couple of hours west of Valladolid. Disembarking at the Came terminal, I threw on my backpack and messenger bag and trudged through the blasting mid-day sun and heat over to a hostel right in the middle of town. I can’t divulge the real name of the hostel because a bunch of gnarly stuff went down and I don’t want to take a chance on any possible repercussions by talking about it here.

    An ADO bus arrives at the Came terminal in Merida from Valladolid, Mexico.
    An ADO bus arrives at the Came terminal in Merida from Valladolid, Mexico.

    I was greeted at the front desk by the manager–a really friendly and cheerful young guy in his 20s or 30s who showed me a four-bed dorm room, which I checked into. A bit later when I went to the bathroom, I was dismayed to encounter wet floors with a bunch of hairs all over the place. I also noticed too late (after I had already paid) that there was only one toilet, which was situated in a stall so tiny that I literally could not fit inside. There wasn’t even a door to this toilet–just a curtain that was maybe six inches in front of the rim. As if that weren’t bad enough, the only light in there was a lone bulb hanging by a wire against the wall in a corner. This bathroom was so dismal, it looked like a set straight out of one of those slasher horror movies.

    The Cathedral of Merida, Mexico.
    The Cathedral of Merida, Mexico.

    Later, back in the dorm room, I was laying on my bed trying to take a nap when an old guy came in from taking a shower, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. He was probably in his 60s with a bald head on top. What little hair he had was pulled back into a short, sketchy ponytail. He was also sporting a big, bushy mustache. He removed his towel and got nude for a minute while he dressed. I also noticed that he was in the habit of talking out loud to himself, even if other people were around.

    Welcome to Merida, Mexico.
    Welcome to Merida, Mexico.

    Not long after, I saw the old guy sitting on a couch in a common area clipping his toenails. Yeah, nail clipping is something we all have to do, but not in a public place. Plus, the disgusting pig left his toenails laying all over the floor. Seriously. That was the final straw. I was totally grossed out by that guy and told the manager I wanted to move into a private room asap. I ended up paying twice as much money, but it was worth it not to get skeezed out by that guy every five minutes.

    After taking a nap in my room, I went out to have a look around the center of town and shoot a few photos.  Merida is a really gorgeous town, chock-full of renovated Spanish colonial mansions that take up whole blocks and contain a counted number of glitzy cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, stores, souvenir emporiums, and the like.

    Fajitas at Almaro in Merida, Mexico.
    Fajitas at Almaro in Merida, Mexico.

    Back in my room, I spent the evening catching up on Photoshopping my photos and writing my travel journal entries. At one point, someone knocked on my door. It took me a few seconds to put down my laptop and get up to answer it. Right before I reached the door, someone opened it with a key and started to come in. It was the owner of the hostel. He seemed surprised to see me, then apologized and quickly shut the door. I wondered if maybe he was coming in to steal stuff. Later, I asked the manager about the incident, and he said the owner didn’t know I had moved in there, and was just checking to see if the room was available. Hmmm. It all seemed pretty fishy to me.

    Fancy toast at Almaro in Merida, Mexico.
    Fancy toast at Almaro in Merida, Mexico.

    Throughout the whole evening, the owner and manager of the hostel were hanging out with some relatives in the large, open kitchen–eating, drinking alcohol, talking, laughing and being super loud and rowdy for hours on end. The manager told me all of the noise would stop by midnight. Around 10:00 pm, I was down the hall shaving in the bathroom when I noticed the loud talking and carrying on had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and devolved into angry shouting.

    A horse-drawn carriage in Merida, Mexico.
    A horse-drawn carriage in Merida, Mexico.

    When I went out into the hall to investigate, I saw the manager in the kitchen screaming at one of his relatives. A couple of times, the manager threw glasses at the guy, which barely missed his head, shattering against the wall behind him instead. I thought someone was going to get stabbed. The manager kicked out that guy, who had insulted him somehow, and his wife. Then a bunch of people were trying to calm down the manager. The owner ended up tackling the manager, with the side of the latter’s face hitting the hard tile floor. Several hostel guests aside from me also witnessed the whole episode.

    A rooftop view of Merida, Mexico.
    A rooftop view of Merida, Mexico.

    A short while later, I went back into the bathroom to finish up what I was doing. When I came back out, the manager was sitting with the owner, the former talking and crying. Later, I saw the old Toenail Clipping Guy walking downstairs. The manager was right behind him with his hands on Toenail’s shoulders, who was guiding him down the stairs. Oh, and the manager was completely sobbing the entire way. The whole episode was like one of those crazy telenovelas. But, sure enough, by midnight everything got pretty quiet–except for some people in the room next to me who kept talking loudly until 2:00 am. Argh! Needless to say, I planned to hightail it out of that sketchy place promptly after breakfast the next day.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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