When people from back home ask me to describe Mérida, the first thing I always say is hot. I feel bad simplifying such a beautiful, multifaceted city to solely its climate, but its scorching here and I can’t help it. It’s a heat I have never felt before. A heat I cannot escape. Entering my room is like entering a sauna. Even sitting at my computer with two fans blowing on me I sweat. Always one for activity, I am content to lounge around in the afternoon and just let the heat wash over me, hoping that once the sun goes down the hot, heavy weight bearing over me will be lifted (So far, it has yet to happen).
But despite the oppressive calor, this city is filled with museums, art exhibits, and dance exhibitions. Every Sunday an event called Mérida en domingo takes place in the Plaza Principal downtown. There people go and enjoy typical Yucatecan night food: panuchos and salbutes. Both contain a fried tortilla, the former filled with beans, covered with chicken, tomato, lettuce, and onion. Additionally you can roam the streets and buy traditional clothing or dance traditional dances with your date on the closed off cobbled stone streets. There is some form of music or dance show every evening in el Centro throughout the week as well.
If art, dance, and music aren’t your cup of tea you don’t have to worry. Mérida is home to both baseball and soccer teams. The Mérida Leones (a wonderfully talented baseball team) are the pride of the city but the Venados are not far behind in the number of followers. A second division soccer team, the rumor has circulated throughout our group that if they had won their final game last season they would have been placed into the top soccer league in México. After hearing this news, a group of nine of us gringos decided we had to attend a game to see what all the fuss was about.
Saturday we arrived to the game via taxi- a very cheap and efficient way to travel throughout the city (the taxi including tip only cost 50 pesos for three people or less than $1.50 a person). Although we arrived an hour before the game everyone, people were already clustered about the stadium entrances, all representing their team with the baby blue Venado jersey. A group of nine Americans in a foreign country are sure to stand out and we were approached by the local news network, interviewed, and are set to be shown on local TV Wednesday night.
Then the fun began. In the distance loomed an ominous cloud, unnoticed by most who were jumping and screaming various cheers. Twenty minutes into the game, a few light sprinkles began and just as I finished putting on my raincoat, the skies opened up and a flood poured out. I have never seen it rain so hard. Families ran for cover while the hardcore fans (including us) were determined to stick it out. But after postponing the game, it was apparent that shelter was a necessity. Soaked to the bone, we all huddled underneath the edges of the stadium as the wind and rain howled by us. An hour or so later the game resumed, the unbearable heat gone for the first time since I have arrived. Four poor souls had to rake puddles of water to other less-wet areas of the field in a hopeless attempt to restore the field to a playable condition. Despite being wet, everyone was in high spirits and even though the Venados played horribly, a sense of unity filled the stadium after bearing the brunt of the storm. The energy throughout the stadium is something not often seen at American sporting events unless you attend the Superbowl, World Series, or Stanley Cup. We have all decided we will return the next game to once again cheer on the wonderful Venados- this time to victory.