18.02.2009 - 18.02.2009
Tonight kicked off the week-long lead-up to Ash Wednesday, Carnaval. Mérida marks the annual occasion with a program of concerts, parades, and outdoor festivals. Not New Orleans-grade debauchery by any stretch; it's more of the family fun oeuvre. At 8:00 tonight, just as I was about to head out to dinner, a concert kicked off in front of the palacio municipal by shooting off fireworks, so I followed the noise downtown to check it out.
I am honestly not sure who the band was, but they were popular enough that the kids (and there were thousands there) sang along to all their songs. The music was sub Maroon 5-level MOR, and in Spanish, but I stuck around for a while to wander around the crowd, check out the street vendors, and people-watch. Around the other side of the plaza was the ever-present impromptu gathering of arrhythmic hippies:
After a couple trips around the square, I'd had enough, and headed to Parque Santiago to continue my tour of all the market stands there, grabbing a table at Lonchería Mary. Tonight featured a full slate of Mexican league soccer, and TVs up above the stands were showing the Puebla-Pachuca match. Pachuca features Jose Francisco 'El Gringo' Torres in midfield, a Mexican-American from Texas who plays on the US National Team, so it was nice to see him in action.
Lonchería Mary has their menu painted on a board with a strip of blackboard next to all the items so they can mark the prices:
I had three panuchos and a tamal colado. 'Colado' is Spanish for 'strained'; the corn dough is strained after it's soaked, giving the tamal dough an almost pudding-like texture. It's served on the banana leaf in which it was steamed, with a little cooked tomato-habanero salsa on top:
When I finished, I ran a quick, unintentional Who's On First? routine with the waitress. I asked her, 'Me da la cuenta, por favor,' or, 'Can I have the bill please?' She said ok, went back to add it up, and came back with the answer: 'Cinquenta,' or 'Fifty.' I misunderstood -- 'Si, la cuenta.' 'Cinquenta.' 'Si, la cuenta, por favor.' 'Cin-quen-ta.' Oh. I handed over the bill, she laughed, and I left a little extra on the tip for the trouble.