Posted by: lianadevine | 1 March 2008

Marking time in Merida

Besides the fact that Harry and Maryann are looking out for our best interests back home while we take Mexico by storm, besides the fact that as our bus guests not a feather was ruffled in our schedule nor our space, and especially since Harry and Calvin had worked together so long that they are almost psychic in knowing what’s up with the other…I, Leanne, was grateful for their visit. Because while we were enroute to Merida, it was Harry’s calming effect and mechanical help that kept Calvin’s latest bus troubles at bay. However, the bus troubles kept us in Merida longer than we planned. But even that sorted itself out in the best possible way.

While driving to Piste, Calvin had noticed that the speedometer fluctuated, something that had happened before all the trouble with the other tranny.  He also felt that same familiar twinge in the rear end of the bus, the business end, where motor, differential and transmission lay. Dreading more transmission troubles, he tried to stay calm for the sake of keeping our visitors entertained, but did confess his concerns to Harry. On the rainy afternoon when we didn’t go swimming after a hot morning of touring Chichen Itza, Calvin and Harry had a look at the magnet Harry and Calvin check the tranny in the transmission and hey, it didn’t look too bad. So we went on to Merida and finished our tour with them.

But still something felt wrong, so Calvin went ahead and took out the drive shaft and found the big nut that held it all together was loose. After removing the bearings from the final drive of the transmission and inspecting all the pieces he concluded that the shop in Arizona did not get the correct torque on the big nut. The bearing inspection showed some wear and pitting, although if we had to they would probably make it awhile longer. We carted the bearings around Merida getting opinions and finding out that no replacements for such specialized parts were available. Our best option was to have replacements brought from our spare transmission back home, and it would take some teamwork.

A flurry of emails connected Tom, Guy, Harry’s children and Donna and Rob, and the Home Team swung into action. Since Harry and Maryann were not yet home from their Mexican vacation, Zachary and Melissa had to let Tom in to our storage container to get at our spare transmission. Tom pulled the parts we needed, cleaned and inspected them, then got them to Guy, who delivered them to Donna and Rob, friends who would be coming to Mexico that week. It was like clockwork and all fell into place perfectly, except, how would we get the parts from Donna and Rob in Playa del Carmen, on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula? While we worked on that problem, we carried on with Life in the Big City.

Our Bacalar friend, Carolyn, was in Merida at this same time, so we contacted her and met her and some friends downtown for Noche Mexicana. On Saturday nights, one end of Paseo Montejo closes to traffic, and artisan booths and food vendors spring up along the street. Live music, singers and dancers perform onstage in a free concert. After enjoying this entertainment, we walked to the main square, stopping along the way for drinks at one of the many outdoor restaurants with live music on the closed streets. Here an impromptu salsa band had set up and local couples from the audience provided the show. At the zocalo, we chatted with Carolyn and her Canadian friends Bob and Mitch, then parted company for the night.

We went over to Carolyn’s house a few days later, and found her in midst of renovations. Calvin looks at Carolyn’s roof I was glad I had brought muffins, because Carolyn did not yet have a functioning kitchen, so this was breakfast.  Calvin, Mitch, Carolyn and I discussed the renovation plans, and Calvin went with Carolyn to pick up some plumbing supplies.  Eventually, we walked to a nearby internet cafe, then had a delicious lunch at a restaurant recommended by a local grocer.  Walking back, we were all in tune with house possibilities, so were looking at neighbourhood homes with an eye to their potential.   Merida has a style all its own, down to the decorative floor tile patterns, that could easily be incorporated elsewhere.

The RV park we stayed in was next to a huge shopping mall, so new the white lines in the parking lot were still fresh.  A blast of frigid air greets you as you walk through the automatic doors, not just from the air conditioning, but from the full-sized skating rink in the middle of the mall.  People lined the boards at both ice level and from the floor above, watching the skaters with interest.  Ice skating is a novelty here, so not everyone was an expert skater, but even more of a novelty was the Zamboni, which generated at least as much interest.  We walked past and entered the Cine Hollywood, which promised VIP seating.  For 80 pesos each, we sat in big, over-stuffed,comfy electric leather recliners and had our orders for movie treats taken and delivered to our seats.  We saw an excellent movie, The Atonement, in English with Spanish subtitles.  Good Spanish practice.

At the RV park, we endured the invasion of the caravans.  A few days after Harry and Maryann left, in rolled about 15 big rigs and proceeded to cluster around our campsite, despite there being about 75 spaces in the city-block sized park.  Calvin convinced the caravan leader that the electrical power was not concentrated where we were parked, so they eventually dispersed a bit.  Although we tried to be friendly, it was not until their final potluck dinner on the patio next to our space when Calvin played some Spanish guitar dinner music from our CD collection that they were finally won over.  And then they left the next morning.  We had the park to ourselves for about three hours before the next caravan arrived, with much the same behaviour. Invasion of the RV Caravan Once they had parked and plugged in, they immediately sucked the power from 138v down to 96v trying to run air conditioners that 15 amp service was not intended to handle.  This group clustered very closely – some could not even put out their awnings –  but seemed more friendly.  In fact, one Canadian family stopped by to visit some fellow Canadians (us) as they were feeling outnumbered by the Americans in the group.  We gave them some tourist information we had come across, and let them know about the fun stuff in the mall for their three teenagers.

When it became apparent that we were staying a few more days than originally planned, I hauled out my sewing machine and started a quilting project.  Calvin tinkered with the bus and the Thing.  We got to know the caretakers, the lizards and the dogs at the boxer training school onsite. We watched the lunar eclipse with some folks from British Columbia, one from our home town.

Thursday February 21, we were awakened about 7 AM by a loudspeaker sound check.  Understanding the welcoming speech that soon followed, I looked up the date and found that February 24th is Flag Day in Mexico.  I rushed out of the bus, camera in hand, to see what was up in the mall parking lot where the loudspeakers were set up beneath a huge flagpole.  It turned out to be a dress rehearsal for the Flag Day ceremonies, with kids in school uniforms carrying mock flags practicing their best marching.  Not much happened that morning, but it was advance notice for me that there would soon be a huge Mexican flag proudly flying next to us.  The rest of the day – and it was a long one – made me wonder if I would be there to see it.



  1. Hello Leanne and Calvin. I enjoy your traveling stories. Wished I could be there but am stuck at home with those International (and helpless !!! ) students.But my time will come, eventually.Spring is in the air, but also still a lot of snow in the mountains and the wind blows the cool air right into the valley.
    Take care and keep on having a great tim

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