It was difficult for me to sleep when I first arrived in Merida because it was so hot and humid, but I’m beginning to get used to the stuffiness. I turn on the AC as soon as I get home and leave it on for a bit to cool things down, and then use it off and on throughout the night to keep myself comfortable. I don’t want to think about how unhappy I would have been had I opted to stay with a family without AC!
The sun is so strong and bright here that sometimes it’s hard for me to keep my eyes open when I first walk outside. I keep to the shady side of the street whenever I’m walking and use my umbrella as a parasol as if I’m a vampire trying to shield myself from any exposure to the sun. It sure does point me out as a non-native Yucatecan to everyone in the city. It’s really odd to me that no one wears hats or shorts in Merida, or carry a parasol/umbrella like I do. Then again, most of the people I’ve met don’t use mosquito repellent either. Me without repellent and sun block is a well cooked meal for those mean mosquitoes in Merida.
It’s been raining a few times a week for an hour or two at a time. I’m thankful that it cools things down, even if it’s only for a few hours, and makes everything around here very green (this city has more parks than I can count). It must have rained hard for several hours on Saturday because when I went into the city center yesterday there were flooded streets everywhere. These conditions have led the authorities in Merida to put a Dengue Fever alert and the city is actively trying to prevent an outbreak by cleaning up puddles of water and fumigating all the cemeteries and parks. I’m getting bitten less but there is just no way for me to live mosquito-free… unless I can build a giant bubble around myself.
I learned last week from my teacher that she and her family all sleep in hammocks (in Spanish, hamacas). It is a tradition that goes back for centuries and when I asked Doña Gloria, she told me the same thing. She said that everyone from her husband’s family used to all sleep in hamacas, too (she’s not from the Yucatan). Only the parents had a bed and all the brothers slept in one room, each with his own hamaca. She explained that the movement of the hammocks help you sleep better, think of the babies being rocked to sleep, and it’s much cooler to sleep in a hammock. One thing she pointed out though, is that the hammocks used by Yucatecans for sleeping are woven tighter and much bigger than what we normally see. She said that they can last for a decade or more and it’s an investment, like buying a bed- she noted that a good one can cost 3,000 pesos ~$250.
Doña Gloria asked me this morning when I was planning to visit Uxmal and the other Mayan ruins. I said I thought I’d wait until the end of October for the weather to ease up a bit. She laughed and told me that things won’t change so much between now and then, saying it’ll still be warm here in December. Well, I’ll just have to put on my hat, use my umbrella, carry a fan, keep looking for the shady side of the street, and go about my business. Can’t let the sun and the mosquitoes win now, can I?