Mexico - Sunday 21 November 1999
We meet at breakfast and briefly introduce ourselves. We are all quite calm and quiet, but I believe it's a nice group. We leave immediately after breakfast. I'm late; Gail said we could go to the supermarket, but it turned out to be farther than I thought. Fortunately, we are still in time for the bus to Chichén Itzá.
It's an ordinary bus, but almost only tourists are on it. It's a relaxed ride: an almost straight road, a driver who sticks to the speed limit. Much more pleasant than in Peru! But at the same time, I miss that chaos, that bizarre quality a little.
Chichén Itzá is a madhouse. Terribly crowded with tourists. We have a guide who tells quite nicely but not in great detail. There is little that we didn't already know from the Lonely Planet guide.
During the last hour, we're allowed to walk around by ourselves. I stroll around with Liz. She has her Lonely Planet guide with her, so we can read again about all we are seeing.
We both feel that it doesn't 'feel' like many other old ruins. Probably due to all those people.
The largest pyramid of Chichén Itzá is indeed very beautiful. You can overlook the wide expanse from the top.
It's quite a climb; the steps are very narrow and high, but it's manageable. Liz finds going down the most difficult, and it is. We hear that 18 people fall down the steps annually. You'd better not think about that while climbing up.
You can also view the inside of the pyramid. First, half an hour in line. Liz is afraid we won't be back in time for the bus (that's one of the downsides of group travel, you're not really free). We are warned that older people, heart, and asthma patients better not go inside. Moisture drips down the walls, and it is indeed very stuffy. The staircase is just as steep as on the outside, but because there are walls and a ceiling, it's not so scary. At the top stands a statue. For a moment, we think 'is that all?', but it's actually quite beautiful.
A film is shown on the bus to Mérida. The name escapes me, but it's that famous film about a bank robber who is released and then, in the first bank he enters, is held hostage by a clumsy bank robber. I've seen it before, but it remains funny.
Mérida is a beautiful city, finally a bit of Latin America as I know it: a bit chaotic, busy but atmospheric.
Gail wants to take us to a nice restaurant she knows, but it turns out to be closed. Maybe it's for the better, now we're strolling around together. Gail also suggested meeting the other GAP group staying in the same hotel. I protest against it. The others say they also don't feel up to it. I hope that's really the case.
We find a nice restaurant on a square, where musicians play some enjoyable music. Later, two other artists join them, dancing and performing tricks with elastic balls that they rhythmically strike on the ground. Quite beautiful. They even set it on fire; spectacular.
It's odd how quickly such a group begins to become a unit. Not that we know a lot about each other yet, but it does feel like we've been traveling together for a long time. The group is still a bit quiet. On the other hand, this gives me more space to be present. I feel comfortable here. And we're having enough fun together.
There is a festival going on in a square right behind the hotel. It's nice to see how everyone is dressed in neat clothes and having a great time.
In the evening, I have some time to be online. There's a cyber café right across from our hotel. Exactly how an internet café should be: with internet and café. Lovely strong coffee. Now, everyone at home knows that I've arrived, and things are going well.