No, I’m not done bitching about the sidewalks in Mérida. It’s just insane. Look up to admire the work being done on the facades in the Centro, and you risk twisting your ankle on the crumbling sidewalks or gaping potholes that are all around.
Here’s something brilliant: Outside this one popular cantina on 62, the crack in the sidewalk is marked with an equally hazardous cinderblock, right where you’d step outside after a few beers. Look up to admire the beautiful new facades, and you’ll risk missing the obstacle course below. Elsewhere, a stick or a piece of pipe, maybe with a rag attached, is what warns drivers to avoid a pothole. If they’re not going to fix this, the city should at least hand out free orange cones to anyone who asks.
We are building a house in Santa Ana, and being responsible for the sidewalk, we had to build one ourselves. There is a “green” movement in the Centro to plant black calabash trees along the sidewalks.* We approve! We will plant one outside our street window, but we first needed permission to cut a hole in the sidewalk. So there are times when the city is intently interested in the condition of the sidewalks. But dangerous gaps and cracks that I’ve been skipping around for years don’t seem to be anyone’s responsibility or concern.
I’m taking my elderly parents here soon, and I’m going to have to call a cab just to take them 20 feet. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about violence in the streets, except for the violence implicit in falling into a hole or into the path of a motor vehicle.
OK, now I’m done bitching about the sidewalks in Mérida. Back to happy talk.
*To learn about the Amphitecna latifolia, walk by the big blue house, No. 513, on Calle 53 between 62 and 64. There is a row of the trees there and elsewhere, and a note on the door explaining their suitability to our narrow sidewalks. In short, the leaves stay green and don’t drop on the ground, and the sidewalk doesn’t get uprooted. I’m starting to see them everywhere, the result of a grass-roots campaign, so to speak. Mérida’s Centro is greener these days.