Tuesday, March 8, 2022
I woke up to an ant crawling all over me. It didn’t matter. I was excited to go to Bacalar today. I offloaded my leftover groceries to a new tenant, a vegan handbag designer named Sol from Toronto. Then I started my walk to the bus station, deciding to walk so I could pick up a banana from the market. 3 pesos. I contemplated an Uber from there but I was halfway so I just kept going. Once I made it to the bus station I was quite excited for Bacalar. Everyone who’s been there keeps saying how great it is, and how different it is from Merida. Perfecto.
Today is Women’s Day here in Mexico. So far it compares to women’s day in the US. They name a day after women and talk about how it’s women’s day then continue with regular programming about Kevin Durant and Mike Trout. The man next to me on the bus still took the armrest for the entire 5 hour journey. Last year on women’s day I remember the radio station DJ repeating the fact that it was women’s day at every break, then proceeding to play song after song by entirely male bands. So much performative activism.
All of this top of mind, I cynically waited for men to dominate the movie that began to play on the bus. My cynicism grew when the intro indicated it would be an action film. Much to my surprise, a woman appeared in the lead role. And not the super sexy woman wearing no clothes. A woman with short hair and regular clothes. Later a couple of other women entered into key roles. This movie passed the Bechdel test. Didn’t see that coming. Then I remembered that the movie I watched on the way from Cancun to Merida also had a regular woman in the lead role and the story didn’t revolve around her finding love. Very refreshing.
Walking around Merida (population ~1M) many hours each day over the course of 2 weeks, either alone or with other women, we were not harassed or catcalled a single time. Never felt unsafe going anywhere by myself. No creepy looks, no whistles, no innuendos. In fact, every single time I passed a male on the street, he respectfully greeted me. (The same turned out to be true for Bacalar.)
In American cities, women can’t go 30 minutes without any or all of those things happening. In all, I feel I’ve had a higher quality of life as a result of not having to have constant vigilance from the men around me. I knew this coming in because I looked up safety statistics, but it’s totally different actually getting to experience it.
About 15 minutes before my bus departed the screens that identified destinations with platforms stopped working. So I went out to the platforms and started showing bus drivers my ticket. The second one was mine. Here I go! Unfortunately, this bus doesn’t have wifi like my bus from Cancun did. I had planned to work and respond to a few messages, but those things will have to wait. At least the volume is under control this time.
I had time to reflect back on my time in Merida. Clearly, I made a couple of mistakes. I shouldn’t have booked the Airbnb a month at a time. I should have booked for a few days and then either rebook or booked something else. Second, I also have absolutely no idea why so many expats decide to live in Merida. It’s just a common city with no real draw other than day trips. Nothing very special. Lessons learned.
Police presence at the state border. We made a 20 min pitstop near Jose Maria Morales. I mostly played chess and looked at different yet same views of the jungle for 5 hours.
Made it to Bacalar around 4. Walked to my Airbnb from the tiny bus station with a woman named Nina from Berlin. We agreed to meet for dinner tonight. With just a short walk I already like Bacalar more than Merida. It’s much smaller with more trees and a very casual vibe. After checking into my new Airbnb, I showered then dropped off my dirty laundry on the other side of town.
I enjoyed dinner with Nina at La Playita. The place was gorgeous and the food was good. I had shrimp tacos and a corona. She’s on a work hiatus, with plans to go to Machu Picchu in the coming weeks. We agreed to get back together later in the week.
Amounts in Mexican Pesos
|Total Spend||$1386.13 (~$66.25 USD)|