Once we dropped our friends and the rental car off at the airport, we had to figure out how to get to Progreso. Its not like you can just hail a taxi from the airport to take you somewhere….….oh …no…. that’s illegal apparently. You have to have a pre-booked vehicle service like a ride share (but not like Uber) more like a van shuttle service or something similar OR a private bus or a public-ish bus. Because that all makes sense……Once we found this out, we chose the public-ish bus to get us to Merida Centro. From there, we knew where the public bus was to get to Progreso. It was 36C that day – so we were crossing our fingers all the buses had A/C.
About an hour later we arrived a little sweaty at our new flat – thank goodness it had a little dipping pool for us to cool off! Excited to explore our new hood…we were 4 blocks to the beach / Malecon and 3 blocks in the opposite direction to grocery store – what else do we need! Here is our Progreso flat: Progreso Flat (rumble.com) This was a great week, just living in the tropics and enjoying the location for all there was. Surprisingly I don’t have a lot to report from our week in Progreso aside from:
- It was damn hot, every day – minimum 32-35C. Cooled off to 27 at night, sometimes I needed my hoodie
- We walked everywhere, everyday for any reason – sometimes there was no reason and we just walked
- Dipped a lot in our front yard pool
- Played a lot of crib (Todd kicked my butt most of the week)
- Watched all the sunsets
- Ate tacos more than once
- And Jill did work a bit
And here is our daily walk to the beach, it was rough: our daily walk to the beach (rumble.com)
Todd found a tourist activity that was a short boat ride to a cenote, so we walked 2.5 km to the boat launch. It was about a 30 second ride to the inside of the lagoon, where we entered this mangrove / jungle area that was so cool and had 3 swimmable cenotes and a few that you could just sit and dip your feet. The day was perfect, there was hardly anyone there and both the water temp and the air temp were pretty much the same! Here is a video of that place: Cenotes in the lagoon (rumble.com) It was pretty hard to leave this lovely paradise of Progreso after 8 days – it had an easy vibe we both got used too.
We packed our life into our backpacks and 2 suitcases and headed over to the autoprogresso/colectivo (semi-chicken bus) to catch the bus back to Merida centro for the weekend. The 40 minute bus ride is 23 pesos/person which is $1.61 CA, for a 40-minute ride including our luggage! And then a 10-minute walk to our new house, a few blocks off the centro. This was the third time we’ve stayed in Merida, but the first time in the centro area. Weekends are when everything happens in the big centres – festivals, parade’s, road closures all happen on the weekend. So we picked this very cool “yellow” house, about 5 blocks from centro. We needed to make sure we were within walking distance from the autoprogreso (for when we arrived), to the ADO bus (for when we leave), centro to the taco stands and within 15 mins to grocery so we could eat! This place had everything (except maybe a pool, since it was at least 34C every day we were here!). Merida Yellow Casa (rumble.com)
A few things about Merida is that it’s the capital city of Yucatan state, there is a lot of history, a lot of museums, its very cultural. One of the things that I wanted to do was go to a cantina. According to the google, this is what a cantina is:
So the first night out, we went walking and EVERYONE was out walking around, shopping, eating having drinks. First stop was a happy hour at a cantina by our house called Bar da Ruina. A couple drinks later we moved on to a random taco stand at the Parque San Juan for a chow down. A set of El Pastor taco’s for each of us. Our bellies were full and we moved on to the Bierhaus a few blocks down. Todd has been missing craft beer and it looked like this place might have them. They also had Margarita el pastor on the drink menu. Hmmmm… we were confused by the name of the margarita because we eat street tacos el pastor (directly translated it means shepherd), but we couldn’t figure out why they called a margarita the same name until “click” it meant “classic!” WHA!!!! I can’t believe we’ve been here for 9 weeks, and it took us this long to figure out that el pastor means classic! We hung out longer than we should have for shots of expensive tequila and margarita’s. We also met Daniel from Berlin – he was on a 2-week whirlwind trip so of course we gave him our best advice for his short 3 days in town! (why we didn’t get a pic of Daniel…good question)
Saturday is a crazy shopping day downtown. We had to walk to Super Soriano for a few groceries, which was about 15 minutes from the house. Holy cow, what an insane walk through centro…the buses and people and hawkers and stores and people was insane. This video does not do it justice, but it was a cool building: Shopping on a Saturday in Merida (rumble.com)
It was just a short weekend in Merida – we wanted to make sure we spent the weekend there because the fun things happen on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday they close down roads in town centro and all the way up the P.º de Montejo to traffic and allow people to walk and bike. This street is the main road out of the centro zone filled with historic houses. From our house, through centro up to the end of the P.º de Montejo was 6 km 1 way – on the way back we found a Walmart to pitstop for some A/C and an ice cream before we got home. It was 35C, and we had 19,000 steps by the time we got back home at 2. And then we went out for street tacos that night at parque San Juan – we could hardly keep our eyes open til 9 pm that night!
An early rise the next day as we were headed to the ADO bus, about 2 blocks away, to take the 4.5 hr bus ride back to Cancun for our final 4 days. We still can’t believe that we’ve been able to travel by bus for over half this trip and live out of a backpack and carryon suitcase. We hopped onto the bus @ 9 am – arrived in downtown Cancun around 2:15 (we forgot we lost an hour). Believe it or not, the bus driver did not stop even once on that 4.5 hour trip – no pee stop, nothing! We grabbed a taxi and arrived at our last Airbnb in norte Cancun – this place also came with bikes, so we could bike to the beach. Our first full day we loaded up the bikes and headed down to Playa del Nino for the day. The bikes, as are most bikes in Mexico, a pile of shit. Rusty, too small, worn out bearings, brakes that don’t work. The landlord told us to “take the air pump with you” when you go! So that tells you we had good equipment with us! Regardless, it was an adventure and we got to the beach and it was beautiful!
We followed up our beach day with a dinner at a local restaurant that was recommended called Metate. Todd had enchiladas and I had chilaquiles – fantastico!
The next day called for a bit of rain, so decided to forgo the beach and try another cenote that was a 10 min drive, 25 min bike ride or 1.25 hr walk. We decided the bikes were not an option for this trip and tried a taxi. The first taxi didn’t want to take us. So we started walking and hoped that another taxi would want too. About 15 mins later we flagged a taxi down and met Gilberto – he was great AND didn’t gouge us on the trip – a mere 80 pesos ($6) to drive us. Our time at Cenote Azul was awesome! There were only 8 of us at this cenote for the entire 2 hours. Met some new friends from Chicago (Carlos, the retired cop) and a couple from Nashville (Brandon and Sara). Check out our video of that: Cenote Azul (rumble.com) And we finally got to see bats…sorry Louise….you missed the bats again. Bats at the cenote (rumble.com) At 2:15 Gilberto arrived back at the cenote to pick us up! Another trip for dinner to Metate, this time for taco’s demardo (also known as flautas or taquitos). Basically meat, cheese or potato inside a tortilla, rolled and deep fried. These were killer, and i forgot to take a picture! We told her we would be back Friday for one more meal!
Our last full day was spent at Isla Mujeres. I hadn’t been there in over 25 years and all I remembered was a golf cart and turtles. Had no idea that Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres is basically the best beach in all of Mexico! An early morning bike ride over to the ferry at 9:00, where we got onto the 9:30 ferry. A short bike ride over to the beach and we were there for the whole day! This was the first time we decided to pay for a palapa and chairs, since there was no other shade on the beach and we planned to be there all day. The bar/food service wasn’t the best, so we opted to buy our own drinks at the Six store (like a 7-11) and then walked off the beach a block to eat. About an hour into our beach day, our friends from Nashville stopped by and it just so happen to be Sara’s 40th birthday! Also met Sal from Ottawa who also partook in our beach party! By 5:30, we decided to head back to the ferry, with a quick pitstop at the pharmacy for some antibiotics – never know when you will need them! We opted to dine at the local street taco vendor that night, as we knew this was our last opportunity for street taco’s and they did NOT disappoint!
Here’s a few random photo’s of the last two weeks: Random photos (rumble.com)
Mexico….you were more than we expected and treated us well! Next time we will be better at Spanish…I promise.