On Parque de la Maternidad, the artists were set up in their usual spots. We’ve been coming here long enough to know what to expect on a Sunday when we stroll down Calle 60, heading from the music and assorted vendors on Santa Lucia, and then pass the painters and artisans on the next, smaller park that you approach when you’re headed to the main square.
I keep swearing off little impulse buys. When we move here, we’ll have large walls, and I want to fill them with large-scale pieces that we bring down from Connecticut. But then a small mounted digital print of an imagined cantina, or an oil of a colorful parrot, or a copy of one of those many corner plaques, will charm me. I don’t usually buy figurative art; I prefer more abstract, expressionistic pieces. Here, I don’t care. I bring them home, knowing I’ll only have to lug them back again one day. We hear getting your artwork through customs can be tricky, and it doesn’t matter if you bought that artwork here to begin with.
We went through the artists’ market when we had only just arrived the day before. My wallet had only $500 peso bills (which is what the bank gave me). It was unfair to ask the artists to break such a large denomination, so we had lunch first at La Parrilla another block down. La Parrilla represents another one of those snobberies that I’ve dropped. The joint looks too touristy for my tastes. But wow, their mixed grill is something else, the flank steak especially, and the waiters are warm and friendly. Plus, just sitting there looking at the adjacent Hidalgo Park is perfect for people watching.
Its neighbor, Los Trompos, is the same thing. It looked too much like a chain, but it’s not, and we finally had their tacos al pastor. Even more, we had them not on Calle 60, but in the food court at the Galerias Merida. Pork cooked on a vertical spit, served with pineapple on a corn or flour tortilla is just as tasty in a food court as it is overlooking a pretty park in the Centro, and the one by the park won’t help you if you’re miles from there on a mission I’ll save for another blog. Anyway, I can’t understand why my Mexican restaurants at home, which has a large Mexican population, can’t match the food court food in Mérida. I don’t think anybody even offers fresh tortillas back at home. Of course, I can’t get Korean barbecue chicken in a taco in Mérida, like I can in Fairfield, so I’m not entirely suffering when I’m back in Connecticut.
This trip I’m learning to enjoy Mérida a little more like a Meridano. Enjoy small, affordable pieces from the square, eat where the locals eat, and — now that we’re blessed with a growing circle of friends — visit more and do the tourist stuff less. We’ve eaten at a cantina and a cocina economica, too, abeit the modern upgraded variety. More about that later, too. I still have another day in Mérida, and I don’t want to spend it writing about Mérida.