September 7, 2002
Note: Due to technical difficulties and situations (hurricanes) beyond our control, pictures will not be available until a later date.
Mèrida greeted us with hot, humid air, and it was only 11:00 at night! Our first glimpses of Mèrida were of shadowy buildings and palm trees as we careened through the streets in a taxi to our first home, the Hotel Panamericana.
Although a mere 90 minutes away from the Houston Airport, we were indeed in a different world, as we found out very quickly. People speak Spanish here, yes indeed; they drive dangerously, or so it seems to the foreigner's eye; you can't put anything except biological waste into the toilets; you can't just order water and be cheap: water costs the same as any other beverage; and crossing the street is quite peligroso (dangerous).
However, it is indeed beautiful here, as we found out over the next few days as we slowly got oriented to our new home. We explored Mèrida's public transportation system just enough to figure out how to get to the important places, like Wal-Mart (yes there's one here too), the shopping malls, complete with movie theatre, and back to our hotel.
We make quite a funny picture, all 18 of us plus Phyllis and her umbrella and Miguel Flores, the assistant director, walking around Mèrida looking very lost and confused. No wonder we get strange looks.
During our exploration, we found out that Mèrida comes equipped with just about every American amenity, so anytime we have a craving for things American, we can just hop on over to McDonald's, or if you prefer Burger King, it's all
here for the sampling.
However, we are not in the States, and some things are just plain different, as they should be. For example, the heat here is incredible, the average high temperature is 95 degrees plus, with a high degree of humidity. However, hardly anyone has air conditioners, due to the fact that the electric company has a monopoly on the utility and is allowed to charge an exorbitant amount for the service, thus making it economically unaffordable to have an air conditioner that runs all day. It cools off in the evening, and I've gotten quite used to living without air conditioning already.