Travel Journal: Mexico
“¡Vamos!” rang out as a pack of six Americans scurried from one sidewalk to the other, challenging the car billowing towards them to a game of “can the chicken get to the other side?” Late morning meant the sun was beginning to release its wrath on the busy sidewalks of the centro. We were looking for the bus terminal, the one Sarah Bugg had seen a few days prior that she swore was just around every “next corner.” Good thing our Spanish is improving! “¿Dónde está la terminal de camiones?” (Where is the bus terminal?) “Three blocks south and two blocks east.” Southeast we bustled. “Dónde está la terminal de camiones?” “Two blocks north and three blocks west” About-turn. From an aerial view we must have looked like rats searching for the cheese at the end of the maze. This is exactly what we expected and at the first sign of any frustration we reminded our comrades, “¡Es una aventura!”
We had decided the day before to head out in the morning for the bus terminal, pick a city no more than about two hours from Mérida and go explore. Well, that is precisely what we did. No maps, no set destination, a few pesos in our pockets and off we went. The first bus terminal we found provided transportation to only Ticúl, a small city about a one hour and 20 minutes drive south of Mérida known for its many zapaterías (shoe stores) and cerámicas de barro (earthenware pottery). Tickets in hand and about 20 minutes to spare, Lilly Brooks reminded us all of a tempting panadería (bakery) we passed not far from the terminal. With our mouth-watering pan dulces (sweet breads), or a very recognizable chocolate-frosted donut with sprinkles Nolan Weddle enthusiastically selected, packed in our bags we were ready to ship out!
Before I lose myself completely in the telling of this aventura, I must express the hypnotic effect the panaderías have on my poor, weak soul. At any point in the day they emit the most tantalizing aroma. Knowing pan dulces tend to lack beneficial contribution to one’s health goals, this antagonizing tickle that immediately travels from your nose straight to the deepest depths of your being is hard enough to resist. Throw in their seemingly omnipresence on every streetcorner of every neighborhood, and I’m as good as dead. At least one would think. The only thing preventing me from complete gluttony of these sweet, yeasty perfections is an equally captivating treat called the paleta de coco (coconut popsicles). Which brings me back to la aventura.
As we drove into the city, the heavy presence of pottery shops was clearly seen. As the anticipation to discover a new city grew, so did that beast inside, growling for more Mexican cuisine. When our feet hit the pavement, our eyes were peeled for one of the many restaurants that are ready to serve us a delectable meal to soothe our hunger pangs. After a good 45 minutes and a few circles around the city center, no luck. Not one restaurant. Surely the people of Ticúl like to eat? When we randomly wandered upon the city’s “food court,” a row of about 15 small kitchen booths, we were not aware of how perfect our food selection would feed into our “adventure” mindset for the day.
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