Travel Journal: Mexico
Panuchos (stuffed tortillas) were the order of the day for half of our clan. Fried pork chops—heavy, crunchy, and everything a fried meat should be—was another selection. Me, always blessed or cursed with the “I want to try as many new things as I can” mindset, ordered a dish, Relleno Negro, lacking any sure knowledge of what would come my way. Interesting, yet appetizing, it was a steaming bowl of black broth with chicken and two additional floating masses. One was a corn product, similar to masa, stuffed with an egg. The other, clearly identified after a generous bite, was fat—pure grasa at its best. Lily Brook’s order, however simple, took the cake for most memorable. She, being a vegetarian, ordered what she thought was a Mexican style sandwich sin carne (without meat). When three ham and cheese tacos were placed in front of her, she politely reminded the young lady that she requested her food come sin carne. As if straight out of the film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the young lady looked Lily straight in the eyes and reasoned, “No es carne; es Jamón.” (It is not meat; it is ham). Es una aventura for sure!
With full stomachs and our energy renewed by good laughs, we set out to see some pottery. Deciding to embrace Ticúl’s use of tricicletas (tricycles with a cart for sitting) for public transportation, we split the group. Sarah Bugg and I rode in one, and everyone else (we later discovered as an over-packed cart went flying by us) in the other. The pottery was beautiful! We even were taken to the back of one shop to see the production process. I was thrilled, being an art major with a focus in ceramics, to be able to see their process. They brought in the clay which was dug up right there in Ticúl, broke it down, and immersed it in water. After they created the various forms they desired, often using molds, they fired the pieces in their very own kiln.
As the day dwindled down, we peeled ourselves away from the pottery shops and headed back to the centro by means of another tricicleta. Guided by an amigo who explained he enjoyed helping tourists on his days off, we ended our time in Ticúl the best way I know how—helado (ice cream). Cue the paleta de coco! A few of us have discovered the phenomenon of these Mexican fruit pops that are made from a dense concentration of strictly the fruits that flavor them. I'm a lover of all things coconut and therefore have fallen head over heals for the paleta de coco. Like coconut ice cream, the paleta de coco is refreshing, cool, and the perfect salvation from a toasty afternoon, but that is not even the best part. It is chock-full of real coconut shavings! ¡Ho-la! Melting from extensive exploring in the heat all day long, we snapped a picture with our amigo tour guide and headed back to the terminal to begin our journey back to Mérida.
With each passing day Mérida is quickly becoming home, but she never seems to stop surprising us! The night we returned from our aventura, hungry again, Sarah Bugg and I eyed an al pastor tacos cart we couldn't resist. After reminding us of our undeniable identification as “gringas,” he prepared two tacos, our eyes growing as the cheese piled high over the tortilla. ¡Deliciosos! We then were pleasantly surprised as we witnessed the weekly festival that graces Mérida every Saturday evening. Traditional dancing and music, more traditional Yucatán food than you could imagine, and yes, more helado.
Homestay life is captivating. Every conversation with my mama brings new jokes, new laughs, and so much more Spanish! Every meal she prepares is mouthwatering. Mérida is a city I'm quickly falling in love with. Ticúl was a wonderful day of adventure, but only a sliver of la gran aventura with which I'm consumed.
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