Getting My American Tourist Visa Or An Excuse To Go To Merida

I had a “indefinite United States visa” when I was a kid but those were the early 90s, Venezuela was a politically stable country and venezuelan tourist were always welcomed to the United States and basically any country in the world. My mom got ourselves some nice visas in 1992 and that was the year of my first trip to the United States. The indefinite visa off course expired after 10 years.

Fast forward to 2015 and here I am, in my early 30s, living only an hour an a half flight away from Miami where many of my best friends live and I had no visa! I knew it wasn´t very complicated to pay for an appointment to apply but to do so I had to go to Merida Yucatan first to get my american tourist visa again…. what a sacrifice!

I intended to do that within the first couple of months of 2015 but due to * cough * Cancun´s inmigration office my temporary residency card renewal was long overdue and I didn´t get the card until March so I had to reschedule my visa appointment to late March. It didn´t matter, I still got to travel during the nice weather season.

The cozy Art Apart Hostel in Merida

The cozy Art Apart Hostel in Merida

My old friend Adrian was visiting from Venezuela so he took advantage of the situation and travelled with me. We stayed at a hostel called Art Apart which is conveniently located down town. It is an old colonial house with high ceilings, hammocks, art pieces which makes it a little bit kitsch and quirky but was very clean and relaxed. It also had a nice pool in the backyard that i didn´t use because I went sightseen the two days I stayed there.

So, first things first: after arriving in Merida and taking a taxi to the hostel I had a torta for lunch, got a shower and headed to the United States CAS center to get my fingerprints and visa photo done. You can´t take any personal belonings with you such as your cell phone, keys, pens or anything basically but your printed appointment confirmation and your passport. Luckily I got there 1 hour earlier and I had time to walk around and discovered a beautiful colonial squeare with a church and huge trees, the perfect place to ease my mind before the appointment.

Merida sights while making time until my appointment

Merida sights while making time until my appointment

Then I got to my CAS appointment and was done in 5 minutes which left me thinking “why was I so worried and stressed?” I headed back to the hostel and waited for Adrian (he had left to a cenote in the outskirts of Merida), once Adrian and I met at the hostel we decided to walk around downtown and have a nice yucatecan dinner. I was eager to go to “El Tucho” a place where I had been before that has some comedy shows, amazing food and you only get to pay what you drink so, I could use a few beers and have nice treats but… it was closed! Maybe because it was a school night it was closed at 8 o´clock 😦

Casa Montejo and historical center

Casa Montejo and historical center

Still I knew of another place nearby called “La Chaya Maya” that was supposed to be excellent and at a reasonable price so we headed there and to my surprise, the had Mucbipollo! Mucbipollo is a traditional yucatecan dish reserved for Dia de Muertos so it is only available around late October and early November but at La Chaya Maya they prepare Mucbi all year round, I was SOOO happy!

Dinner time at La Chaya Maya.

Dinner time at La Chaya Maya.

Since Adrian wasn´t feeling good I decided not to have a beer but instead had a huge class of delicious Agua de Chaya, he ordered a pumkin soup, had totopos and had a nice chat while dinning. The waitresses of La Chaya Maya are all dressed up in beautiful yucatecan huipiles, their hair is all up nicely and elegantly held with a “peineta” probably something inherited from the spanish conquer times.

Merida´s Historical center at night

Merida´s Historical center at night

After our dinner we continued our stroll in the historical center, I got the chance to take Adrian to some of my favorite buildings in the area such as the old Yucatan University building and the Church of the Third Order. We also passed a few theatres and Casa Montejo; we then went back to our hostel because I had to get up early for my visa interview the bnext morning.

Since I was in Cancun time instead of central Mexico time, I got to my interview appointment an hour earlier! I should have changed the clock the day before but nooooo, I didn´t think of it! Anyway, I had the chance to get some coffee at the Oxxo around the corner and got to talk with some nice people there, discussing about politics and other current affairs until it was time for me to return to the United States Consulate for my interview.

Once I entered the consulate I had to wait for a little while, they basically give you a number and members of the staff will come to the waiting room and get a bunch of people and take them to the interview area. There were families there, students, young professionals as well as United States citizens who live in the Yucatan area (that means, the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan) that needed passport renewal and other documents.

The Chilam Balam and us goofing around

The Chilam Balam and us goofing around

Even though this day was a little bit longer, it was easy and painless. I was very nervous and felt all happy and grown up when the nice official who interviewed me said “your visa has been approved, you will have your passport delivered in Cancun within the next 5 days”. By noon I was back at the hostel and checked out but they nicely let us leave our packpacks there so we could go to the Mayan Museum before travelling back to Cancun.

Mayan temple replicas at the Mayan Museum of Merida

Mayan temple replicas at the Mayan Museum of Merida

We took the bus just outside the hostel and within 25 minutes were climbing the stairs to get to the museum. It is a super modern facility with air conditioning and two main exhibits, the permanent exhibitionis entirely devoted to the ancient mayan civilization and has a nice collection of artifacts discovered in the different sites, it also sets the differences between the mayan language in the different states where this ethnicity lives on in Mexico and you can also get to know facts about the major sites as well as replicas of mayan trademarks like the “The Throne” of the Ek Balam Acropolis or the ball game rings of Chichen Itza.

The Mayan Museum in Merida is a very modern and comfortable space

The Mayan Museum in Merida is a very modern and comfortable space

The temporary exhibition was all about the great meteor of Chicxulub, according to history and geological data, there was a meteor impact 65 million years ago around the town of Chicxulub which may have been one of the causes of the extintion of dinosaurs and also one of its consecuences are the cenotes throughout the peninsula. After spending the entire afternoon at the museum it was time for us to get to the bus station and return to Cancun.

Gracias Merida.

 

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