February 28th, 2008 by ejalbright
I spent the past week in Orlando on business, and, dead tired, got up at 4 a.m. this morning to fly to Cancun for a week on the Yucatan Peninsula. The previous week had been so taxing, I forgot to call my credit card company to tell them I was going. It usually takes a couple of days so that their systems know I am in country, and not someone who stole the card looking for a free vacation. I also left my Mexican money at home, the leftovers from my last trip that I use to tip and buy food and gas once I arrive. This was a particularly grievous error, because my bank also found out this morning I’m in Mexico, and I worry that my ATM card would not work (or get eaten by an ATM machine).
That meant I had to get cash in the states and go to one of the exchange services to change American money into pesos. The exchange rate was 9.45 pesos for every dollar, absolute highway robbery. But I had no alternative, so I changed almost $200, more than enough to get me to Merida.
The breeze off the ocean was positively bracing, at least for the locals. Everyone was wearing jackets or long shirts. I regularly use National Rental Car. I find them relatively honest, but I have to be vigilant. They test my Spanish, which at first blush seems as if I understand what they are saying, but the truth is I have just rented so many cars here that I know the routine cold. They brought me a Volkswagen subcompact, which I have to admit is a pretty nifty car. The value of the car, with almost 50,000 miles on it, is estimated at 11,000 Mexican pesos. If I wreck it, I buy it, because I only purchase liability insurance.
I hit the road immediately and set out for Merida on the Cuota, the toll road that runs across the Peninsula. Since I arrived so relatively early (11:30 a.m. local time), I decided to stop at Piste, the village next to Chichen Itza, and visit friends. I also had to check on my reservation at the Hacienda for Monday.
Bruce Gordon happened to be at the hacienda, so he invited me to lunch. The setting and the food at the Hacienda Chichen are one of my all-time favorite things. Afterwards lunch, I visited the Uh Tun family, who I got to know on an earlier research trip. Vibiano Uh Tun, the patriarch of the family, was relaxing after working the lunch at the Hacienda Chichen (he and his sons play guitars for tourists). I brought a few presents, including photographs I had taken the last time I was here. Jaime, his son, is going to be married next month. I was deeply sorry that I was going to miss the wedding. His bride, Flora, is positively lovely.
I then drove to Merida where a friend had agreed to put me up. I have a pretty full agenda over the next week. Time for bed.
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