December 30th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Merida

“Five go-old rings”  We were really very fortunate.  The train arrived on time, + it seemed at first to be very crowded.  However, we kept on walking thro’ to the very last carriage, + that was much less full – we were able to get a double seat, with a man sleeping on the one opposite.  But then he got out at the very first station, so we were able to stretch out + really sleep relatively well.  We arrived at Merida at about 1, + then set off to check out one of the hotels mentioned in our guide.  When we got there, we found 3 of the people we’d met in Palenque station, plus another guy, all sitting in the lobby – the hotel was full.  So 2 of them deputed themselves to go out + search for another, while the rest of us just sat + sipped Coke. Eventually they returned, to lead us all to Promised Land aka the Hotel Latino.  There we were able to get a room for the 6 of us, at $99 cada uno.  We were: Val + I, an American guy, a Brazilian guy + 2 Dutch girls.  Val + I laid down for a while, + then went out on a shopping spree – well, a small one – especially when we found a Western style supermarket.  Of course, a lot of the shelves were filled up with junk, presumably because they didn’t have a large enough selection of goods to do otherwise – but there was still enough to satisfy us.  Then we returned to the hotel + lazed around.

We ate a light supper – oh, I nearly forgot the highlight of the day, real fruit milkshakes! – then read.  I found an old edition of Time – dedicated to the Royal Wedding!  – so, hungry for news, even old news, I read that.

Now, with a little space at hand, with apologies to Robert Browning, not to mention Clifford T Ward, some Home Thoughts From Abroad.  Really am looking forward to getting home.  Partly because of the excitement of arrival home, even tho’ I recognise that will soon pass – more because of an antipathy to Mexico.  I have to confess I hate the place, as a place.  The people are so rude, so sullen.  Finally, I’ve become very depressed about having to count every penny – not being able to buy a beer, or even a coke, whenever you want – it’s a downer.

We tried to organise things so that we could travel at night, and not have to pay for accommodation, and sometimes, like today, we got lucky, and were able to manage a reasonable night’s sleep.  On other occasions…

One of the advantages of travelling on an established route, and meeting other travellers, is that we were able to share the burden of finding somewhere to eat, stay, whatever.  And our friend Sue (someone we were to meet later in our travels) tells us that her husband was equally avid for any sort of news when away, spending a lot of time and energy tracking down newspapers.  What either of us would have made of today’s permanent connectivity… well, we’d have loved it.  When I travel now, I have access to a daily newspaper, to the BBC.  But there was something a little magical about being totally cut off, and then grabbing a bite of some news story.

And I need to address the Home Thoughts bit (the reference, by the way, is to an old Robert Browning poem, the title then borrowed by a 70s pop singer – just in case you were wondering.)  It is clear that I was feeling the strain of travel, which inevitably lead to thoughts of when it might end.  We have never been back to Mexico, and so I feel it deserves another chance, one in which we have enough money to live and eat rather better.  But then Mexico seems to be a more dangerous place now, and that was one aspect we never encountered (though you only need to do it once.)

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