April 29, 1974: My first trip – Merida, Yucatan
Each time I think about this trip, I’m amazed that it ever happened. Almost everything that could go wrong did.
I was teaching basic Spanish to 11 year old students in Jamaica when my school received an invitation to take part in a one week trip to Merida, Yucatan. We jumped at the opportunity.
Three students, another teacher and I decided to go. Several weeks before we were scheduled to leave, we sent our passports to the travel agency that was taking care of the arrangements and get us our visas. But when we arrived to pick them up, we discovered that our passports had been destroyed in a fire at the agency. No one had even bothered to inform us.
So while the other students were jetting off to Merida, we were stuck in a police station in Kingston reporting the loss of our travel documents. We would spend the next few days waiting for the police reports, taking new photos, completing new application forms, getting them notarized and resubmitting them to the passport office.
A few weeks later, the 5 of us, passports in hand, we were on our way. We spent 7 wonderful days in Merida.
I’m glad now that I kept a journal because the few photos I have of that trip are so grainy I can hardly make out our faces.
Here’s what I remember:
- Twisting my ankle in my clogs on the slippery stairs at the hotel.
- Going to the movies – why we decided to go to do that escapes me now. Saw La Bruja en Amor, Man with Icy Eyes, Red Devils.
- Going to Progreso Beach, twice.
- Roberto and Belgio telling me “Te amo” and falling over themselves to show me around.
- Having liver and onions for breakfast several mornings at a diner near the hotel. I never liked liver but I really enjoyed the way the Mexicans made it, with lots of onions. I tried to make it the same way when I returned home but it just wasn’t the same. I doubt I’ve eaten liver since.
- Visiting Chichen Itza. The highlight of the trip
- Hearing Love’s Theme by Barry White‘s Love Unlimited Orchestra everywhere. It was a big hit that year.
- Being invited to the home of the owners of a small restaurant, sneaking away when we saw how drunk they were getting. (I wasn’t used to seeing people just sit around and drink.)
- Being stranded. According to our itinerary, we were scheduled to leave on a 10:15 a.m flight to Montego Bay. We were up and ready at 7:45 a.m. but when we arrived at the airport here was no 10:15 flight and there wasn’t going to be another direct flight to Montego Bay for several days. We were stuck in Merida with little money left. Thankfully, the agency in Merida found us a connecting flight to Miami the next day and paid for us to stay one more night. (I think we all bunked in the same room.) The next morning, we were at the airport long before check-in time. Our flight on Pan American was the best part of the trip. I think we were the only ones on the flight and they fawned over us.
Looking back, I’m surprised we even made it to Merida and I laugh now at all the problems we had. But when I think of trip, I don’t think of any of that. I think of the ruins at Chichen Itza and how they sparked my interest in ancient cultures. Sometimes, I wish I had better photos but the memory of what I saw is etched forever into my brain.
If you like what you’ve read, why not Share, Tweet, Digg, Like, etc. You never know who might be interested.