© Copyright GoneSouth 2011
First I thought of writing some important facts about Merida, but then I have changed my mind. Obviously you can find all that in travel guides, Wikipedia and other
official websites describing this neck of the woods. So here are some of ordinary people experience visiting this lovely
and hospitable “white” city as it is locally known.
Is Merida safe?
......and what makes this city different from the rest of the big cities in Mexico?
Well, there are many books and places where you can read that people feel it is a safe city. But there is also in
the back of your head the question about how a foreigner would fare. So, without really wanting to test it, I found
out myself, first hand and it was an amazing experience!! This is not to say that there isn’t ‘stuff’ going on, but as
with everything else, you have to be smart about these things.
So, here is my little story and you can decide for yourself.
There we were, Osmara and I, in the center city of Merida, on a Monday night and having a fabulous time.
There was a big welcome celebration that evening in the city for the freshly crowned Baseball team, and it
seemed like the whole population of Merida was out to greet them. Once this whole parade went by, we enjoyed
a very special performance in front of the City Hall. It was the "Celebrando el mes del Adulto Mayor" - "Senior
Citizen Celebration Day" and dancers (age 60 and up) from all over Yucatan were there to perform. It was absolutely
the best live music I had heard in a long time and everybody had the biggest smiles on their faces. After that we started to head back to the house in the general
direction I was so sure we needed to go. We did come in by taxi, I will say that, and i
n a city with pretty much 100% one-way streets, that should count for a bit of an excuse. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here we are, two women, one that was entrusted with the "well-being and safe return of a teenager daughter" myself,
and Osmara, starting our trek home. We figured it should be a 30-minute walk, which really didn’t faze us. We’re talking, chatting away, coming across amazing old
architecture, one of the old, still standing city arches and we’re all excited. At this point Osmara mentioned that it was the first time she ever saw that arch, which
probably should have been my first clue that we’re NOT heading in the ‘general’ right direction. But hey, I thought, the numbers are still looking good, (Merida has a
pretty nice grid of even and uneven numbers, heading in opposite directions and once you figure out how it works, not a problem!) I just hadn’t gotten to this point yet.
So, we kept walking, it is now almost 10 pm, not a whole lot of people on the streets anymore and I am getting a bit, shall we say, concerned. But at least I have the
address in my head and thinking, if worse comes to worst, we’re flagging down a taxi and getting back that way. After an almost 45 minute walk now, we KNEW it
was the wrong direction. So we decided to give it one more try and ask some people where we were and how much further we had to go.
With Osmara being fluent in Spanish, we started looking and did find a family who was visiting with friends in front of their house. After explaining where we needed
to go and them double checking if they understood us right, it became clear very fast, by the look and reaction on their faces, that we indeed had set off in the totally
opposite direction of our destination. After a few more minutes of discussions, the decision was made to not only pack the whole family in the car, but two complete
strangers, us, and drive them clear across the city to their house!! On top of all of that was this poor little car of our rescuers. It was in pretty bad shape and it
sounded like it might die any minute, and here they are, giving us a ride that was most likely totally out of their way.
I didn’t feel unsafe, or had a flash of ‘should I worry’ about this in my mind for a second!! Those people were the sweetest, most helpful human beings, and we were
delivered in front of the house with big smiles, hugs and Buenos noches. I asked Osmara in the back of the car if I should offer some money, but she felt very sure
that this would just offend them and I’m sure she was 100% right.
It was an amazing evening and it went into Osmara’s and my ‘Book of Adventures’. And here is the thing: when we told mom & dad and local friends about our
adventure, nobody was surprised! It was more like a settled, knowing smile of "Yes, that’s how people are around here!"
So, at the end of the day I felt very safe and had a "very good feeling" experience in this city!!
Just a couple of nights later I was sitting by myself at the Main Square, now knowing my way back to the house, and enjoying the evening. I did some people
watching and received the best gift a traveler and foreigner can get; warm smiles from the locals and helpful hints and tips on best places to take photos along the