We get around everywhere by Uber here in Mexico. The rates are so cheap and there are so many drivers available that downloading Uber apps on our phones and using them for our transportation needs is a far more economical and practical choice than renting a car. Some drivers don’t speak English but others do and we have learned plenty of interesting things from them.
Many have left jobs related to their university degrees- business, technology, innovation, architecture, engineering to drive Uber because they can make a better living here in Mexico as a driver than as a professional.
Two of our drivers were Americans who had roots in Mexico, had come here for visits, fallen in love with Mexican women and had children. Since getting American immigration papers for their families is almost impossible they must remain here.
Some people drive Uber because it gives them an opportunity to have two jobs or it gives them the flexibilty to spend more time with their kids during the day. One of our drivers was a farmer and he and Dave discussed their family farms during our trip.
One driver who didn’t speak English asked Dave in a questioning way “música?” When Dave said ‘The Beatles” the driver understood him immediately and played one Beatles hit after the other on his car sound system during our ride.
We have only had one female driver. She didn’t understand English but Dave and Rudy managed to convey that they wanted to stop on our ride to pick up some items from the grocery store. While the fellows went into the store I showed her pictures of my grandsons on my phone and she showed me photos of her family and with gestures and the few words we knew of each other’s languages I learned she had five brothers and two sisters,seven nieces and nephews and that her grandmother had died last year. We even figured out that her nephew and my grandson shared the same name.
A couple of our drivers have moved here from Mexico City because there is so much less crime and extortion and corruption here in the Yucatan. They gave us lots of interesting reasons why that is the case.
I especially love Uber trips I make on my own. My last two I was lucky enough to get drivers who both spoke a fair bit of English and we had fascinating half hour conversations on our ride home from Merida. Uber is fast and convenient but the bonus for me is that I am meeting lots of interesting people and am learning so much about Merida and the Yucatan from our local drivers.
Friend For A Moment
We Placed Our Lives in his Hands
Dave the Professional Driver
Filed under Mexico, Travel
Dave and Renan twelve years ago
Way back in 2006 a young man named Renan Canto from Merida Mexico came to Steinbach as an exchange student at the regional high school where both my husband Dave and I were teachers. Renan was in my grade ten English class and Dave was his basketball coach. I taught journalism and one of my students Courtney Fehr did a profile of Renan for our school paper. During his interview for the article Renan talked about what a great experience he was having in Canada.
Dave with Renan at Chichen Itza
In 2007 Dave and I went on a holiday to Cancun Mexico with our friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel. We knew Renan’s home in Merida was about a three and half hour drive away but we contacted him anyway and let him know we would be in Mexico. Renan and his brother came to pick us up in a chauffered car and drive us to their family home in Merida.
Me and Rudy and Sue Nikkel with Renan and his brother at Chichen Itza
On the way we stopped at the famous Mayan archeological site at Chichen Itza where Renan’s father had arranged for a private guide to give us a tour.
Dave and Rudy with Renan’s father and brother enjoying a coconut drink in their backyard before dinner
When we arrived in Merida Renan’s parents rolled out the red carpet for us.
Me with Renan’s mother
His mother made us a wonderful supper and they hosted us for the night.
Posing with Renan and his family on the front steps of their family home in 2007
The next day before we traveled back to our hotel in Cancun Renan’s parents treated us to brunch in a restaurant housed in a beautiful old home in Merida. We have never forgotten their wonderful hospitality.
When we knew we would be in Merida with our friend Rudy this year Dave contacted Renan. He told us he had gotten married this fall and Dave invited him and his wife to join us for lunch. Renan picked a fantastic seafood restaurant called La Pigua. We had a delicious meal and a wonderful visit. Renan and Lizmar have only been married for four months and they described their month long honeymoon in France, Italy and Greece. Renan who studied electrical engineering owns a lighting company and installs commercial lighting as well as orchestrating light shows for special occasions. He told us about a light show he had done at some ruins called Teotihuacán near Mexico City. Renan’s wife Lizmar runs a dance studio where around a hundred students study ballet. We had a long visit and agreed we will try to meet again during our time here in Merida.
It was great to reconnect with Renan and to meet Lizmar!
Visiting My Students in New York
Ivan Was Here
So Proud of Her
Filed under Mexico, People
Having a husband and two sons who are baseball and basketball players means I’ve watched a whole lot of ball games in my life, but I’ve never seen a game like Pok Ta Pok. We watched a match one evening in front of the major cathedral in Merida. The name comes from the sound the 4 kilogram game ball makes as it is passed from player to player. See the round hoop on the right hand side? The ball needs to pass through it to score. We had a wonderful pre-game event – a pasta and pork tenderloin supper courtesy of my sister Kaaren and her husband Ken on the lovely outdoor patio of the home they are renting in Merida. We were joined by our friend Rudy, and Kaaren and Ken’s friends from Winnipeg who are here to spend a week with them. After the meal we headed down to watch the game from bleachers that had been set up alongside the Pok Ta Pok court. The guys were discussing the Jets game happening in Winnipeg before the Pok Ta Pok game began. Dave was following on his phone as the Jets beat Anaheim 9-3.
Dave at the ball court at Chichen Itza.The ring Dave is pretending to shoot at is exactly like the one that was in the centre of playing court in Merida.
I had seen a Pok Ta Pok court when we visited the ancient Mayan community of Chichen Itza in 2007. The court in Merida was open and did not have high walls like the one in Chichen Itza and the ring the ball would be shot into was in the center of the court in Merida and in Chichen Itza it was on the wall.
Before a Pok To Tok game can begin there are lots of cermonial rituals that are carried out. Note the players have painted their bodies and are wearing traditional Mayan attire. See the ring the ball will go through?
The game was fast paced and each team had four male players. I wondered if women every play the sport. The men hit the ball back and forth to each other but could only use their hips or thighs for doing so. I thought their hips and thighs must be pretty bruised by the time a game was over.
See the fire ball above the one player’s head?
After the Pok Ta Pok game we were treated to a demonstration of another version of the game where the ball is set on fire and the players use their hands to pass it to each other and then try to put it through the hoop. I figured they must have had some kind of powder or cream on their hands to prevent them from getting burned.
Pok ta Pok as depicted by Christoph Weiditz in a 1528 Spanish manuscript
It was an interesting evening seeing a sport invented some 3000 years ago still being played today.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game- Osaka Style
Maybe an Iguana Ate My Golf Ball
Filed under Mexico, Sports
“The place doesn’t look like much.” “A real hole in the wall.” “Plain and friendly.” “Quick service and great meals.” “The seafood is delicious and cheap.”
That’s what we had read about the Marlin Azul cantina in Merida. After my sister said she and her husband had enjoyed delicious shrimp fajitas there Dave and I decided to try it on our trip into Merida yesterday. Once we were out of our Uber we got a little direction turned but there are these English-speaking tourist guides hired by the city at many key intersections and this man named Roberto was happy to point us in the right direction. When we got a little turned around again direction wise this gentleman kindly stopped and offered to take us to the restaurant.He led us right to the Marlin Azul and the outward appearance lived up to the descriptions we had read.So did the descriptions of the friendly service. This affable waiter helped Dave pick out the perfect beer to go with our meal.And the food certainly lived up to its hype. The shrimp fajitas we shared were wonderful.We were about to set off on an eight kilometer walk around the city to explore some of its art galleries. Our meal at the Marlin Azul fortified us and got our afternoon off to a perfect start!
First Supper in Lisbon- My Husband Has Great Instincts
A Gourmet Sail in Costa Rica
Home Grown in Newfoundland
My sister Kaaren and her husband Ken have arrived in Merida for a month and it is so great to have them here. They are staying in a beautiful old house in the city center about a half hour drive away from us. Yesterday we went into Merida to see their home which was built in 1902 with an interior decorated in a traditional Spanish style.
We went on a tour with the Carnavalito company. Isn’t their logo jaunty?
Ken had booked a tour on a colorfully designed bus. We drove around the city for about ninety minutes or so while our guide told us about what we were seeing in both Spanish and English. We went by many gorgeous stately homes. I was surprised how many had been bought by people from other countries like Ireland,the United States and Canada. Some had received modern renovating and others appeared to have been kept in their original style. We also saw some of the city’s public art including a striking installation in the city centre.
This church was built in 1790
According to our guide each church we passed was a couple hundred years older than the one we had seen before. It seems like Merida has a plethora of public parks to enjoy and we passed by many that looked like great places to walk or relax. After the tour we enjoyed some beverages in the comfortable sitting area near the swimming pool in the lovely backyard of my sister’s home and then we headed over to the little restaurant across the street from their house. It would definitely fit the description of ‘hole in the wall’ but the owner was charming. Her nephew translated for us and we ordered two delicious dishes. We made plans for my sister and her husband to come to our place today so the guys can golf and then Dave and our friend Rudy decided we should try to take a local bus home instead of hiring an Uber the way we had on the way into Merida. Rudy found a very helpful woman who steered us onto the right bus. The ride was pretty fast with only a few stops and cost about 50 cents compared to a $12 Uber ride. I have a feeling we will be taking the city bus again.
A Rainbow in My Mouth
Pink Jeep Tour
I Drank A Beer in Austria