Mexico Trip Day 6 and 7: Relaxing in Oaxaca, Merida and Uxmal Ruins

PSX_20200123_144052Sunrise from a Hill in Oaxaca

We stayed for two nights in Oaxaca, and on the third day, few of us were planning to watch the sunrise together from the hill close to Santo Domingo Cathedral. We met in the hotel lobby at 5.30am and started walking for 40 minutes west from our hotel. It was a unique experience for me to see the town early in the morning. There is a highway on the foot of the hill with a pedestrian walkaway on the side, where we scout for a clear view to the city downhill. I set up my tripod and started composing few photographs for the next half an hour while observing the sky’s color changing from thick orange to white-yellow color.

PSX_20200123_144442Santo Domingo Cathedral During the Sunrise

PSX_20200123_144548Oaxaca in the Morning

PSX_20200123_144632Santo Domingo Square in Oaxaca

The walk back to our hotel is even more interesting, as we passed several murals on the wall that we didn’t notice in the dark. We stopped to take more pictures and even some selfies in between. I love the way the sunray slowly lit the colorful building walls as we walked, as if a curtain was being gradually lifted on the whole city. It felt great to walk early in the morning. The air feels fresh and a bit cold, there were barely any cars and we could wander on the street as a result. We even saw a woodpecker on a tree branch, spotted by Max when he heard a weird sound coming from the sky.

PSX_20200123_144740Main Street in Oaxaca

PSX_20200123_144748Towers of Santo Domingo Cathedral During the Sunrise

PSX_20200123_144827Santo Domingo Cathedral During the Sunrise

PSX_20200123_144856Street Scene in Oaxaca

PSX_20200123_144755Entrance to Santo Domingo Cathedral in the Morning

Today, we had a flight to Merida at 4pm, meaning that we have to go to the airport at 1.15pm. This gave us ample time to explore Oaxaca further or just enjoy the day relaxing somewhere nice. After going back for breakfast in the hotel and taking a shower, I went to the Zocalo and found a coffee shop with seats on the terrace facing the Zocalo. There were many women selling textiles decorated with patterns, each of them standing ten meters apart while showcasing their good. I sat down for a good one and a half hour, reading my kindle and pondering whether I should pursue a PhD degree when I come back to Canada, to one day become a policy maker and contribute something to the world.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5686.JPGA Street in Oaxaca in the Morning

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5676.JPGMe Reading and People Watching in Zocalo, Oaxaca

PSX_20200123_144948Nice Cup of Espresso in Zocalo, Oaxaca

Around 11.30, Juliette spotted me sitting there and said hello. She helped me locate the chocolate store we went to two days before, where I had planned to revisit to buy some chocolate bar and powder. I walked there fifteen minutes later and walked back to the direction of my hotel. That is when I met Steve and both of us ended up having lunch together at La Olla, the restaurant we went to last night. Funny thing is that when we already sat on the second floor of the restaurant and ordered our food, we saw Max and June entering the same restaurant, all this without any planning before.

Our flight with Interjet to Merida has one layover in Mexico City. In the airport I bought two chocolate bars and a bottled water for the flight, all of which cost less than MXN 100. While waiting, I also wrote a postcard to my girlfriend, who has a hobby of collecting postcard from her relatives traveling overseas. The flight from Oaxaca to Mexico City was delayed by about twenty minutes, which made the layover in Mexico City airport very brief that there is only enough time for me to go to the washroom and bought another bottled water.

At 9pm we arrived in Merida, which is warmer and more humid than Oaxaca. Getting out from the airport, we were tired and hungry. So, we drove straight to the hotel, Hotel Colonial de Merida, and put our luggage in our room before heading to the restaurant across it called Chaya Maya. It turned out to be a popular restaurant among the tourist and was still heavily packed at over 10pm. I had a pork cochinita, one of the local foods, that taste like a pulled pork sandwich with a tortilla as the bread.

Maria and a few of us went to the Plaza Grande two blocks away after the dinner to straighten our stomach and buy some water. Then, all of us went back to our room and slept, knowing that tomorrow we will have a long day.

The next morning, I woke up at 6am and walked to Plaza Grande to watch the sunrise. The sky was cloudy, with a tint of bright purple color. I had three hours to explore the city, before meeting for an arranged tour to Uxmal Ruins and Kabah at nine, so I paced my walk around the square. Surrounding Plaza Grande, there are two buildings that are worth a visit: Palacio Municipal de Merida and Catedral de Merida San Lidefonso. I went inside the cathedral and walked around the square again, before taking an uber to Santa Lucia Park and Paseo de Montejo, where many people were jogging in the morning.

PSX_20200125_061050Plaza Grande in Merida During the Sunrise

PSX_20200125_061133Plaza Grande in Merida During the Sunrise

Back in the hotel, I showered and had a big breakfast with the rest of the group. There are two options for tourist visiting Merida: first, to swim in the cenotes, which is a lake inside a cave with clear water, and second to visit the ruins. Another our member and I chose the later, as we don’t like to get wet during the trip and having to take shower again in the hotel after.

At ten past nine, a white minibus picked us and two other passengers before going to the direction of Uxmal Ruins, which is 1.5 hour away from the city. There, we met our site guide and tour around for an hour before we have our free time to climb the ruin on the back of the main pyramid. Uxmal Ruins are not as big as Teotihuacan or Monte Alban, and the landscape surrounding it was less stellar, but it’s still worth the visit.

PSX_20200125_060838Uxmal Ruins, Merida

PSX_20200125_060925Uxmal Ruins, Merida

Around noon, all four of us had lunch together and chatted. It turned out that the elderly couple is a marine corps veteran and a nurse from California, and this is their fifth time visiting Merida. They told captivating stories about places they have traveled to, such as Russia in the 90’s, safaris in Zambia and Kenya, and their horrible experience staying in a hut in Mongolia. I had a lime soup and chicken cochinita for the lunch, both of which were delicious, and the chicken is much more tender than last night’s pork cochinita.

PSX_20200125_061229Uxmal Ruins, Merida

PSX_20200125_061742Me in Uxmal Ruins, Merida

We continued the trip driving for another half an hour to a site called Kabah. There, we hiked more ruins and took some pictures. If you are visiting this place, don’t forget to go across the road of the parking lot and see the arch that historically served as the entrance of the site. Since it is not very big, we took only 30 minutes or so to walk around the complex.

PSX_20200125_061613Me in Kabah, Merida

The day tour finished at 4.30pm and I asked to be dropped at a square just next to my hotel for a reason. There’s a nice ice cream shop called Santa Lucia on the square, next to a hotel, and they have seats facing the crowds. I ordered two large scoop of mango sorbet for about MXN 100 and finished it while watching people walking by.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5695.JPGIce Cream at Santa Lucia, Merida

I walked for one and half hour after that going to few markets and parks across the city before finally going back to hotel and took a shower. We had a fancy dinner at the Gastronomies Museum at 7.30pm, with Maria explaining various spices sourced from parts of Mexico that is gathered to make cuisines. The museum also has a miniature of Mexican village, where there are explanations about the food making processes. There was a live music in the center of the open-air restaurant and the ambience is just right. We had couple rounds of wine and Juliette and I stayed until midnight talking and drinking until the music stopped. It was probably one of the best nights I had for a long time, feeling both relaxed and happy traveling in a foreign country.

 

 

About Kevin

Kevin is an Emerging Markets Research Analyst at a global macro investment firm based in Montreal, Canada. Originally trained to be a medical doctor, he found his passion in capital markets after being involved in managing portion of his family’s equity portfolio. Kevin holds Masters degree in both finance and management, has passed all levels of CFA exam, and is a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Professional Financial Modeller (PFM). He read voraciously and has a hobby of tinkering (read: programming) his systematic equity and volatility trading model for the “Quantimental” investment firm he founded. In his spare time, Kevin likes to travel the world and become a freelance photographer for Getty Images. To date, he has a portfolio of over 1200 pictures across 35 countries.
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