Decibel Challenges
March 22nd, 2010 by robert

The balcony shakes slightly from the throbbing bass of the music that fills the plaza. We are in the  Hostel Zocalo on the central plaza of Mérida.

Zocalo Skyline

The colossal, old, old cathedral sticks above the verdant trees, two black vultures court overhead, and social flycatchers congregate above the hundreds of kids and parents watching an eco-education performance called Olocoons: Secretos del Bosque (Secrets of the Forest). Skits, short polemics and music ranging from Mexican pop to hip hop all deliver the message that regular exercise, planting trees and recycling all will lead to a better Mexico. It lasts for three hours and concludes with an epic battle between robot deforesters and young idealists. Guess who wins.

Things certainly have changed since I last spent time in this country, though admittedly I’ve never been to this region before. Yet this performance is a national touring production, and the frequent reference to sorting inorganic and organic garbage reflects something I have noticed everywhere: paired garbage cans. Corey asked last night, “Why doesn’t this kind of automatic garbage sorting happen in the U.S.?” Good question. The roadsides here are not strewn with plastic bags and bottles, but maybe my memories have become caricatures.

Friday we left Isla Holbox, after three great days on what some consider an island paradise. Actually there were two great days and a very wet one; the boys slept nearly that whole day, catching up . Holbox, the town, sits between a lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. Local transportation is almost exclusively golf carts, including the taxis that shuttled us between the hostel and the dock. With empty beaches stretching east and west for miles, walking them was a constant attraction.

Beach Miles

One day we walked barefoot several miles to another lagoon entrance, and I carried along a packraft. What a cool tool for fun! After inflating it, I paddled into the mangroves, scaring up tiger and tricolored herons and reddish egrets. A roadside hawk came to a dead halt above me, apparently surprised to find a red silent thing floating underneath. The temptation was to keep going, to see what was around the next corner, but paternal instincts prevailed.

Packraft Temptation

Elated, I deflated the boat, stuck it in my pack, and walked the lonely beach back to the palapa.

After three days at Isla Holbox, we have been on the move. We arrived in Mérida last night and were fortunate to find a room at this hostel, our first choice. It had been a long day that started in Rio Lagartos with an early morning birding trip, and then a guided boat ride through mangrove lagoons.


As we checked in, a political rally in the square converted into a concert, and the volume level multiplied. It seemed like this old building shook, hundreds of meters from the stage, which we could not see. The band was great and the music was mostly cumbia, one of the best dance musics ever invented, but we just couldn’t summon energy to join the crowd. Instead we made ourselves at home in the hostel’s international community, and suffered slightly until the music ended, around midnight.

Tomorrow we head for Calakmul. . .


2 Responses  
  • Porter writes:
    March 25th, 20102:21 amat

    Roberto y hijos: Sounds like many good sounds!! I suspect flamingos are still classified as birds, not too many here in Patagonia. The porch is still fine and misses you. Checked off the house sparrow in Ketchikan – does life get any sweeter??!! Continue to enjoy. Cheers, D

  • Ute writes:
    March 26th, 20106:13 pmat

    Thanks Robert for sharing your fun adventure.

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