A Traveler’s Dream – Merida, Mexico, North America

Not a Hilton or equivalent. Not in the US, but in Merida, Mexico, two blocks away from the “Plaza Grande", the main square surrounded by the Cathedral of San Ildefonso, the Governor’s Palace, the City Hall and other historical buildings – the same square which was closed to all motorized traffic from Friday night through Sunday night during our stay this December to celebrate the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with numerous artisan salesmen, restaurants with outdoor seating, dancing and music all over the place late into the night.

When travelling in Mexico, Françoise and I prefer local, non-ostentatious accommodations to the large and luxurious hotels and resorts that normally cater to tourists. As long as we have a bed and a bathroom, we do just fine. There was no air conditioning in this accommodation, but the temperature in December is more or less 75º F during the day, a bit cooler at night. No need for air conditioning as far as we were concerned. The ceiling fan was enough.

The surprise came shortly after waking up the following day, when I headed for my morning shower.  Oh yes, there was a shower in the bathroom, but the water was cold and I mean COLD!  No hot water!  Talk about a rude awakening, but I needed a shampoo. No choice, I had to take a shower. Françoise was more hesitant, finally drummed up the courage to face the arctic blast.

Attractive Courtyard

Attractive courtyard

We had made the reservations from the States through a travel agent; the price was right, close proximity to the downtown plaza greatly appealed to us (see Courtyard picture). And of course, the picture of the courtyard we found on a website showing Merida hotels to be most attractive. We had initially tried finding an accommodation on our own by browsing the Internet, but all of them that we could contact were booked because of the festival, an event we had not known about.

After this “refreshing” – albeit quick – bathing, we went to the lobby and Françoise (who speaks Spanish) gently inquired about the matter. With a big smile, the young man behind the counter replied very naturally that we simply forgot to ask for hot water. Ah well, yes, we forgot to ask! Sorry.

The second place where we stayed

The second place where we stayed

The next priority was to find another hotel, which became easier after the weekend because most of the Mexican tourists who had come for the festival were gone. (As an aside, we did not see many American tourists in Merida – they must have been in Cancun! But we did encounter people from Switzerland, France and Germany.) We found a nice place three blocks away from the square for 355 pesos, or a little less than $28.00 per night, continental breakfast included. The room was not luxurious, but it was nice and clean, included an air conditioning unit. We made sure at the front desk that there was hot water. As it turns out, the water was not very hot (no risk of getting burned), but warm enough.

Our room was on the third floor (see picture taken from our floor). No elevator. After long walks during the day, we resigned ourselves to climbing the stairs (this happened several times per day), choosing to see it simply as healthy exercise. All in all, we had a great time. On future trips to Mexico, we will once again plan on finding affordable lodging in some local inn or hotel because we enjoy them. Next time however, we’ll remember to ask about hot water.

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