Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Lesson Learned...

My friend, Tim and I decided that we were going to experience the full flavor of Merida and venture south of the main square to the 'down-town' shopping and market area. We were feeling very intrepid and I wanted to try out my Spanish that I had been learning. We thought we would try buying some different fruits and vegetables for the week.

Off we went with our reusable shopping bags in hand, a spring in our step and excited with the thought of the adventure ahead. After walking a few blocks, turning a few corners in the hope of stumbling across the market we managed to end up back at the main square. As it was 'hotter-than-the-sun' out I ducked into the tourist office at the main square where she drew me a map and smiled.

SO, off we went with our reusable shopping bags in hand, a spring in our step and excited with the thought of the adventure ahead again!

It was lunchtime by the time we managed to find the markets, and being the intrepid explorers that we were we decided to join the locals and pulled up a stool at one of the market stalls. NO this was not why I got sick! We ate here on the Saturday and I was not sick till Tuesday/Wednesday and besides Tim and I ate and drank the same things.
A yummy lunch of tostada and panuchos.
Tim at the stall for lunch

After a lovely lunch we went and bought some items to make guacamole and salsa from the stalls and with my newly acquired, very limited Spanish. I managed just fine. Oh, besides the time I tried to buy some limes that were 5 pesos and I thought she said 50 pesos. I handed her a 50 peso note and walked away. She started to yell to me to get my change where upon I started to walk faster (or as Wade likes to call it 'run away screaming'!). Some of the other bemused stall owners stopped me and explained that I forgot my change. I was very embarrassed that
1. my two-hours-a-day, three weeks of Spanish amounted to me getting 5 and 50 mixed up, and
2. I had 'run-away-screaming' when someone was trying to say something to me.
It was all a learning experience and gave us something to laugh about for the rest of the day.

While we were looking for the markets at the beginning of the day we walked past many barber shops and hair-cut salons. As I don't have a lot of hair I decided that I was going to stop in and get my hair cut because I was starting to look like Krusty the Clown!

I randomly chose one, walked in and made the universal sign for haircut with my fingers with a smile.

The salon was open at the front to the street with no air conditioning and I thought that I was going to sweat like a jockey in a steam cabinet under that nylon cape but it wasn't that bad at all.

Forty pesos later I was done and she did a very professional job and we were very pleased with the outcome...muy guapo! I said to the girl and we both laughed.

The lesson I learned for that day was to... just do it! Give it a try! No one is going to laugh at you, no one is trying to rip you off at every turn just because you are a gringo.

This is one of the reasons why I am falling in love with Merida!


  1. I have to be so careful not to get overconfident with the currency. I had the opposite problem -- some charged us 12 pesos for 2 sodas, and I thought she said 2 pesos, which is the amount I insulted her with. She gave me SUCH a look. Then, at Cafe Libertad I offered the equivalent of about $50 US for coffee and quiche. They honest, thankfully, and gave me the right change, but it was a deflating experience! They got a generous tip.

  2. My problem is the new five peso coins, I keep getting them mixed up with the two peso coins. The old ones used to have nice big number fives on the back. When I wear my contacts I can't see the tiny numbers (my contacts are for far away, I use cheaters for up close).
    The similarity of 70 & 60 (setenta/sesenta) even trips up Spanish speakers. I find myself saying setenta seis and then repeating siete seis or sesenta seis and then clarifying with seis seis for example.
    I'm glad you persevered and found the Mercado.

  3. And not mention how fast people say the numbers. But being there for a month was wonderful for my Spanish and Monica Tort was great and so well worth all the lessons. I will definitely be continuing with her each time I visit.

  4. Good to see you posting again. I'm in Merida now, but will leave in the morning. It has been a fruitful week, irrigation problems aside. I managed to go to Cosco, by myself, sign up for membership, shop, and ask for someone to call a taxi for me. I offered him a tip, but he gave me the "boss would slit my throat' sign. We both laughed and I walked outside with my basket to wait for the taxi. The money thing is a challenge for many of us newcomers. And you are correct, everyone is very honest.

  5. I just appreciate your perspective on it all! Living abroad can be challenge and a humbling experience without a doubt. Thanks for sharing your experiences and helping me get to know Merida a little better.