The next morning I disembarked the ship in Mexico. Ole!
Things I learned in Progreso, Mexico:
- Progreso is home to the world's largest pier. It's 4 miles long.
- The first song I heard in Mexico was Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" which was being blasted by a local bar.
- Coronas taste 84% better when consumed in Mexico.
- They are sold for $1 a bottle there, or 7 bottles for $6.
- This part of Mexico is home to the NEW 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza.
- If you drink enough, you will call it Chicken Pizza and this will be acceptable.
- It's a Mayan temple.
- Did you know that there are people there who are Mayan and they still speak Mayan? I DID NOT KNOW THIS. I thought Mayan was a dead language. It's very abrupt sounding.
- The Mayans make it very clear that they are not Mexican.
- Seriously, don't call it Mexican even though you are in Mexico.
- You can call it Chicken Pizza, just not Mexican.
Regarding the violent crime in Mexico, I felt very safe. I did not feel at any time that I was at risk of being beheaded and dumped into a mass grave like CNN likes to report. The Mexican government is heavily invested in protecting the Americans. If something were to happen to an American, the resounding backlash of tourism bans would cripple the economy. There was a Mexican naval ship that escorted our boat in and out of port. There were armed guards lining the 4-mile pier that we took into Progreso. And when I got off the bus in Merida, there was a police car waiting to escort the Americans. We were taken care of.
Merida is the capital of Yucatan. It's an old city established back in the 1500's by Spanish conquistadors, resulting in heavily European-influenced architecture. I got to rub my hands along the limestone walls of the main church that was built in the 1500's. I was encouraged to take flash photography.
When the Coronas had worked through me, I was escorted (past heavily armed guards) into the governor's office to use the restroom. Before I could think of myself as a hot-shit American though, I was handed my allotted squares of toilet paper and shown to a toilet that had no toilet seat. No problem! Drinking as often as I do in the places I do has made me an excellent hover-er. Only when I closed the stall door, there was less than 6 inches of space from the lip of the toilet to the stall door. There was no room for my body to go. That was uncomfortable. And acrobatic.
I took the recommendation from my friendly bus driver and found a real Mexican restaurant at which to eat. And this is where I learned my first rule of international travel: Don't order anything white. When I was in Sicily years ago, I tried to order pasta alfredo. When I was in Merida, I tried to order queso dip. Both times they were like "LOLz! That's an American thing!" The Mexican (or Mayan, I dunno) was a lot nicer about it than the Sicilian. That man went on to insult me for 10 minutes and I didn't do anything about it because I was hungry and vulnerable.
I drank sugar-cane rum because I was told that was the real drink of the Yucatan, not tequila. The older lady at the table next to me also had it. Matter of fact, she had two. I left the restaurant after her and watched her stumble down the narrow sidewalk. Later when she boarded the bus, she began loudly asking me questions and then she began crying. Her husband changed seats. I snorted and fished out another Corona from my bag. Ole!