Today is Sunday and our fourth full day in Merida, Yucatan (we arrived late Wednesday night). It’s a tad bit cooler today with a temperature of 91°F with 59% humidity, that translates to a Heat Index (relative temperature) of 102°F. But it’s still dang hot any way you slice it. I always thought the cooler months brought in the tourists but the opposite seems to be true (at least this year). Crowded.
My friend Dominique owns and operates Cafe Pistache (formerly Cafe la Boheme) on Avenida Paseo de Montejo. It’s a french sidewalk cafe and serves great coffee and breakfasts in the morning (although they are open all day and well into the evening). On Sundays her two young daughters, Justine & Elodie, help her with the cafe and customers so it was a great opportunity to hookup with all of them again.
Dominique and the girls are multilingual and speak fluent Spanish, French and English (and I think Dominique speaks Italian and some German as well if I remember correctly). I asked Elodie this morning what language they speak at home and she said all three—when I asked if that was confusing she got a quizzical look on her young face and simply said no. How many kids in the United States can speak three or four languages fluently? Most seem to have trouble with simple English.
Shawn and I took our time over breakfast and just relaxed with the morning. Every Sunday Paseo de Montejo is closed to vehicle traffic for 4-hours to allow cyclists, runners, pedestrians and dogs to enjoy the tree-shaded avenida. Shawn and I are both retired father & son bachelors so we also enjoyed watching the attractive ladies stroll up and down the boulevard. And make no mistake about it, there are some very attractive women here in Merida. We were in no hurry and spent well over an hour watching the goings on and visiting with Dominique and the girls. Even my old expat friend John stopped by on his bicycle (John helped us to set up 50 remote cameras for Puuc Jaguar Conservation a few years back).
After breakfast and coffee we headed to Hotel Fiesta Americana so I could buy a few Cuban cigars. Most of the cigars you buy on the street or in the tourist district are Cuban fakes and not particularly tasty but at the hotel you can buy the real deal: Cuban PUNCH brand cigars at 188 pesos or $10.57 usd per stick. To non-cigar smokers that probably sounds like a lot of money but for authentic Cuban-made cigars it’s very reasonable. When I lived in the USA I used to have my Cubans smuggled in from Canada and they cost me $35 to $55 usd per stick (are you listening State Department and NSA?).
Bright and early tomorrow morning my longtime friend James Callaghan (Director of the Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve) is picking us up at the hotel to spend the day with him at the reserve. It’s a scientific research center located deep in the forests of the Puuc region of Yucatan and is beautiful. It is also the home of Puuc Jaguar Conservation directed by Dr. Markus Tellkamp (another good friend). Markus is a German-Ecuadoran and native to Quito, Ecuador. Joel and I spent a lot of time in Ecuador (2015) and we were able to hookup with Markus again. It’s a small world.