It is now Monday and I’ve found an internet café that is open and to which I have been able to connect my laptop. Until I am able to get an internet connection in my apartment my postings will be sporadic. I’m learning my way around. So far, so good, though.
Well, it’s Saturday, Oct. 1, and here I am, after spending about 16 hours in airports and airliners, all checked in to my apartment in Merida. My neighbor and good friend, Dan, and friend Mike drove me to the Portland airport; and, hopefully, returned safely with my car. I have been without internet access since leaving the Portland airport, which has about 70% wireless internet coverage at no charge while they make sure all the bugs are worked out. The Mexico City airport has fairly complete wireless coverage, but one must be a subscriber to Prodigy to access the network and I didn’t want to go through the trouble of signing up for a couple hours of use.
Upon my arrival at the Merida airport, the fact I was carrying two suitcases, a day pack and a laptop case piqued the interest of the customs officials, who requested a look inside my luggage. Well, being an eccentric I had brought along some soap that I had made out of sheep fat and lye. The customs inspector was very interested in what it was. I explained, in my often insufficient Spanish, that it was soap I had made. At any rate, the agriculture inspectors didn’t quite know how to react; and, after speaking to just about every customs inspector in the airport, they decided it best to confiscate the soap. They were all very nice and very apologetic at confiscating the soap. I assured them that it was “no problema” and “yo soy loco” and headed on my way after they helped me rezip my suitcases, which were both stuffed. Dealing with Mexican immigration and customs inspectors is quite a pleasant when compared to most of the U.S. customs and immigration folks I’ve dealt with. I promised myself, about 8 years ago, that I would never again fly through L.A. after dealing with the Customs officials, each of whom I dealt with was a complete asshole.
My landlord, Senor Fernando Lopez Monsreal picked me up at the airport and provided a very thorough apartment orientation. In addition to the orientation, Sr. Monsreal has completely furnished the place, down to a new bar of soap in the bathroom and new towels and pot holders in the kitchen. He even provided me with a 50 pesos telephone calling card, a couple of 20 liter jugs of drinking water and a pitcher of ice water in the brand new fridge.
Sr. Monsreal advised me that the best internet service in town is available through the cable TV provider and that my next door neighbor knows all about it. So I will on Monday be checking into establishing high speed internet service and maybe cable TV as well.
Upon Sr. Monsreal’s departure I enjoyed a cold shower and then went exploring. I have found that the streets of Merida, with a population of around 900,000, are deserted during midday on the weekend; but come back to life in the evening. After wandering a bit I found a restaurant that was open; and, as I hadn’t eaten much other than airline snacks, since lunching for one last time at Saginaw’s on the way to the airport. I enjoyed a filet mignon and 3 “Sol” brand beers for about $12 U.S.
I spent Sunday, Oct. 2, walking around “Centro” Merida but never found the bicycle shop advertised in the local phone book. After working up quite a sweat, as it is a bit humid here, I headed home; and arrived as the afternoon deluge set in. After observing the siesta tradition for a couple of hours I headed out again for further exploration. I never found the bicycle shop but ended up in a very nice bar talking to Raphael, his son Juan, and the bartender Natasia. Raphael, who is retired, insisted that I call him so that he may show me the sights. Juan is a supervisor with the Corona brewing company, which also, Juan informed me, also brews Pacifico, Modelo, Sol, Estrella and a number of other beers, some of which they export throughout the world.
I have returned to the apartment for the evening and figured out how to connect my laptop to the TV so that I may listen to the CDs I brought with me, though I will need an adapter to view DVDs. I am now sitting around in my underwear listening to the Buena Vista Social Club reading “The Clash of Political Ideals”, which is a bit outdate but still interesting .
Tomorrow, Monday Oct. 3, I will check on obtaining internet service, getting the adapter I need to view DVDs on the TV, and search for a bicycle shop. I must, above all else, go to Sr. Monreal’s office to provide a copy of passport and tourist visa.