Tuesday, February 18, 2014

rumbling over the rubble

Mérida has more nicknames than a two-bit boxer.

The White City.  The Paris of Mexico (then why doesn't Paris call itself "The Mérida of France?")  And a new one to me -- The City Built on Rubble.  Our guide may have said "of rubble."  I admit my tired mind wandered.

As you may have guessed our 2 AM departure from Melaque has produced its stated goal.  I am now in Mérida -- with nineteen of my travel companions.

If you are curious about the rubble comment, there is no dispute that Mérida was built in the mid-sixteenth century on the site of the Maya city T'hó.  As they did elsewhere throughout Mexico, the Spaniards put the local ruins to good use.  Stones that were once pyramids to the glory of Chaac were recycled to the glory of Yahweh.

You can see an example in the photograph at the top of this post.  That fragment of Maya stone is now part of a wall of the Templo de la Tercera Orden (Church of the Third Order).

I have always liked Mérida -- despite its oppressive heat and big city diesel smells.  One of my pleasures has been following the past and continuing exploits of bloggers who have restored some of Mérida's dilapidated French-inspired homes.  I once imagined myself doing something similar.

But there will be more tales tomorrow after we wander through the monumental ruins of Uxmal, and then return for a walking tour of
Mérida.  And with plenty of pretty photographs -- I hope.

When we checked into our hotel, we were welcomed by the staff who handed out glasses of a very green liquid. 

I tend to trust my taste buds in these matters.  And the drink was quite good.  I told a fellow traveler, it tasted like orange juice combined with a pungent herb.

It turns out I was correct.  The herb was chaya -- a leaf that is often compared with spinach and is served cooked.

The cooking is important.  The leaf has a high cyanide content.  Cooking neutralizes the poison.

But the chaya in our drinks was not cooked.  Why didn't we all topple over on the spot? 

For the same reason that fish and seafood in cerviche is not really raw.  It is "cooked" by the citrus juice in the dish.  Or, in the case of the green drink, by the citrus juice in the cup. 

Who says you can't learn anything on the internet?


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