Watch out for the Heat – Merida
The highway was covered in a haze of smoke. Fires burning along the ditches, common all over Mexico, were doing us no favors.
At 41 degrees celcius, Jayne put it best when she said “it’s like riding into a hairdryer”. A hairdryer that is on fire. No matter how fast or slow we rode, one fact remained: It’s Hot here.
Then it got hotter.
Police and military checkstops are all over Mexico to combat narcotic traffic, and to pick up bribes from travellers. Normally we have been waved through, or briefly stopped so the soldiers can check out our bikes. Neither happened while we were approaching Merida. The sun was low in the sky when we hit the checkstop. We were hoping to make it to Merida before dark.
The police waved through several cars ahead of us, then directed us to park over on the shoulder. They asked for our passports, a first out of all the checkstops we’ve been through. I reached into my jacket pocket and… nothing. It was unzipped. Had I lost our passports? Panic. I opened my top box, hoping I had them in the document compartment. Not there. Again to the Jacket, checking every pocket. Now I wasn’t just sweating because of the heat.
After five long minutes, I finally found the passports under some things in my box. I had moved them there for safety previously when locking my jacket to the outside of my bike. By this time the police had taken interest in searching the rest of my bike. This posed a problem.
Pepper spray resides in my tank bag. We bought it for Alaskan bears, we keep it around for night dogs when camping. The legality of the pepper spray is unknown, but could certainly be considered a weapon, or at least give them reason to hassle us for a “mordita”: a “bite” aka a bribe. The search started with my jacket, then moved to my bag.
With my assistance, the police officer searched through my whole bag including all my dirty clothes, hilariously smelling the pockets (for marijuana I suppose), but only catching the aroma of 3-day-old Phil.
Moving on from the dirty clothes, he started on the tank bag. I helped him again, deftly moving the pepper spray to the side in order to get at the candies I keep for this exact situation. Both officers happily partook in the lemon and strawberry candies I offered. But my officer continued digging. He looked at EVERYTHING: zip ties, water bladder, empty snickers wrapper… at one point, the officer even picked up the pepper spray, he had it IN HIS HAND, and moved it aside in order to open and look through my deck of BC ferries playing cards. Then it was over.
By this time it was starting to get dark, but now that the search was finished, we figured a photo couldn’t hurt.
They took a lot less interest in searching Jayne for whatever reason. Perhaps it was her “boredom” looking at “facebook” that threw them off. Since they found nothing of interest, we were free to ride off into the relief of the hot, sweaty darkness ahead.
Merida has a very beautiful centro (downtown) area, the zocalo is nicely set up, has free wifi (which we are slaves to) and even has “Asiento para novios”, which loosely translates to ‘lovers chairs’.
We met up with Eoin again, seemingly unable to shake the hilarious Irishman. Then met up with David, the Couchsurfer from Campeche, and his friends. All together, we reunited with SeÃ±or Ron Fandango, our tasty friend from San Cristobal. SeÃ±or Fandango cost more than twice as much up in Merida! (but in the end a bargain at any price.)
Had a little hotel party until Fandango disappeared, then we all left too. There was a street party outside our hostel, Luna Nueva (nice place, terrible beds). Alex and Ida would meet us there too. More reunions, becoming the norm now. We love meeting up with friends at random.
Motorcycle Minute: Alex was in a rush to get out of the country since his Visa was about to expire, but his KLR “Georgia” had been acting up a bit. No time to waste, we did some 2am carburetor cleaning. It would slightly improve the issue, but not fix it. Alex would remain in Merida to have a mechanic look at his bike.
Our bikes have still been running well (though Cricket is due for an oil change), and given the heat, we used this to our advantage and left town heading for the Cenotes to cool off. First we needed gas. This gas stop would prove be an experience we had heard about about, but not yet encountered in Mexico.