Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Plaza Grande is closed!

It is true...the Plaza Grande is closed for restoration.  To tell the truth, it is a little embarrassing.  After all, we have been here for nearly a week, but it was only today that I made my way down to the square and the Cathedral, normally one of my first (and favorite) stops in Merida.  But it had been a busy week, with lots to accomplish and new friends to see.

According to Google Translate, the "Recuperation of the Urban Image"

I was so surprised that I circled the entire Plaza to see if I could figure out what was going on.  In a few spots I was able to get a peak inside, and the security guard at the site actually smiled when he saw my face pop through a gap in the fence (rather than yelling at me to go away).

According to El Diario de Yucatan, the renovation of the Plaza will take several weeks, and is expected to be completed sometime in December and in time for the City's anniversary on January 6.  There will be 672 new architectural light fixtures, 158 benches, and "reforestation," although the existing trees and plants will remain.  The El Diario story is here: La Plaza, Un Mes Cerrada  The beautiful portal at the small park in front of Sta. Lucia (that I have somehow managed to never photograph despite having documented every pigeon, pasta tile and palm tree for twenty blocks in any direction from there)  has also been covered over since we were here in July.  I hope that this too is a sign of ongoing restoration.

In each of our trips here over the last 18 months, we have seen ongoing evidence of the City's investment in restoration, and the work shows.  We are looking forward to sitting quietly under the trees in the renovated (or "recuperated") Plaza Grande on our next trip back to Merida, but for now will be perfectly content in the squares at Santiago, Santa Anna, and San Juan.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dinner and a Rabbit Redux

Back in July, I posted about our dinner at La Casa de Frida on C. 61.  Along with the ambiance and great food, we were surprised to see our waiter and his side-kick, the white rabbit. The rabbit only made a short appearance that time and we didn't manage to get an actual photo of it.  But on Wednesday we repeated the experience (including having the very same menu items!), and this time we were ready...

This time we felt very fortunate as 'The Rabbit' made a number of extended appearances. So, with longaniza, chiles en nogada, sweet and sour spare ribs, three Modelo Especial AND a viewing of the rabbit, we had a lovely dinner and a memorable experience for about $38.  Outstanding!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beneath the surface...

One of the nicest things about Merida is that there always seems to be another surprise lurking just beneath the surface of what you see at first.  A plain facade conceals an incredible home full of columns and corridors and colors.  A well behaved group of school kids in uniform waiting in an orderly line outside of the Cathedral breaks into cheers and whistles when they see your camera.  Or a seemingly severe local lady standing on her front sidewalk at dusk in a quiet neighborhood  breaks out in a huge smile as you stumble through a "buenos noches" when you walk by.  

Today Merida surprised me again, and this time she did it in the unlikely form of a municipal trash can.

I've passed these by a dozen times and never wondered who maintains them, or (in a city with what seems like trash pickup every night) how often they are emptied.  They are surely well-used, since the parks where you find them are always full of people and generally fairly tidy.  I was taking an early morning walk through the Parque de San Juan today when I happened upon the scene below.

 As far as I'm concerned, this is Mexican ingenuity at its very best.  The solution to the problem of overflowing trash cans in city parks is elegant and is more or less an underground dumpster!  What looks like an ordinary trash can is really an opening to a giant sized reservoir for the dribs and drabs of daily life.  Who knew!?

This is one of the things that I love most about this matters big and small, there is always something unexpected just beneath the surface.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

House Number 3, the Deco Colonial

The third house on our contender list seemed to have it all.  Sure, it was still south of the main square, but this big imposing casona was on a quiet stretch of Calle 60 near a pretty (newer) church, and it didn't require a walk through prostitute street on Calle 58 or through the main market to get up to the Plaza Grande.
The house was another L-shaped construction with high ceilings from the front rooms all the way through to the back.  It sat on a large lot, and it had every one of its original doors and original pasta tiles in each room.

It had beautiful art deco details everywhere and you could easily imagine life breathed back into this dirty rough diamond.

The facade was an imposing art deco style that was impressive, and the block had lots of other big colonial houses for sale although none of them had been renovated yet.

This house had it all, but it was a little unclear what the price was or even what company had it listed!

Covered outside terrace

It was easy to walk through this house and imagine it restored and filled with colors and light, with a pool in the courtyard.  It even had some large trees and palms in the back for instant tropical atmosphere.

If you have already been through the process of looking at Merida houses, especially ruins that are ripe for restoration, you know the walk through house after house that doesn't really tick any of your boxes and then you go through the doors of a house that does.
You know it immediately, and instead of just spending a few minutes looking around politely, you start to measure rooms and take pictures of all of the different tiles and find yourself saying things like, "the kitchen could go here," and "can you imagine sitting and having coffee out here in the mornings?"

This one was going to require some thought to be sure that we didn't lose our senses completely!
The view across the street