Our Favorite Places, Part I, Progreso, MX
There are such things as Happy Accidents.
That is the only way to describe how we came to be in Progreso, Yucatan, MX
Only, at first, it was just an accident, and there was nothing happy about it. I spent the first two weeks after our arrival here in December of 2018 crying.
But man is nothing if he is not resilient. Or woman. In 60 years on earth, I have learned that sometimes, the very best things we will experience in life will rise out of the ashes of what we thought we wanted.
What I wanted, most of all, was to live on a sailboat. But the Universe (and the Mexican Navy) had other plans, and dumped us unceremoniously in a little town in Mexico we had never heard of, and probably never would have found on our own.
Returning here this year, I have to pause and reflect on that night long ago, (or was it yesterday?) We were taken through the back door of a hotel at three in the morning, escorted by a Navy Lieutenant. Three men were asleep in the lobby, and the Lieutenant gently shook one to wake him up. I pulled our wet pesos from my pocket and slapped them on the counter.
The man laughed. "Ahhhh, money laundering.." he joked. We all laughed. Deep inside I wondered what they were really thinking of the bruised and battered Americans with the sopping wet money.
What a long way we have come from that tragic night.
Progreso is now our home away from home. We cannot imagine being anywhere else for the winter months.
This year, we arrive by airplane in Cancun. We plan to take the ADO* bus to Merida, rent a car, and travel on to Progreso from there. Ah, plans. As we have learned, Man makes plans, and God laughs.
We don't take the Ado, as we are greeted at the airport by some friendly faces with an agenda, which is to get us to a timeshare presentation. "No, I say. We have to catch the bus in the morning." We escape the first one, but are then entreated by another eager young man who asks, "What if I could get you a private taxi all the way to Progreso instead of the bus..?"
And so, we visit a resort, enjoy a huge breakfast buffet, escape some sharks of the human variety, and get a private taxi ride to Progreso. The young man from the airport, who is paid 50.00 USD for setting the appointment, texts me every step of the way to make sure we are doing okay, and tells me, "Don't worry, we will be friends for all of the life." And he means it.
So there it is. Why we love Progreso. These people.
Oh yes, it's a beautiful town by the sea, the weather is perfect, the cost of living is affordable. We are enchanted by the music, the food, and the architecture and history of the Yucatan.
But it is the people that keep us coming back.
For where else, can you return nearly seven months later and be greeted by everyone as if you had just left yesterday? From the landlord and the agent to the restaurants' staff to the vendors to the caretaker?
Do you think you could go to a restaurant in the United States, return seven months later and be greeted by hugs, be known by name, with the staff remembering what you like to eat and drink?
So the town envelopes us in a collective hug, and we feel that our presence here is appreciated. When I ask a restaurant manager if he knows where to buy red pepper flakes, does he treat me like a nuisance? No. He takes us to the market, introduces us to his vendors by name, and shows us four different spice vendors, until we find the elusive flakes. "Mui Caliente", they warn, and we laugh and nod. Then he asks us if we need a ride home.
We don't. We have to stop for hot tortillas, and check out what's new around the neighborhood.
*Last year we took the ADO bus from Merida to Cancun to catch our plane out of Mexico. We highly recommend the Platino service and feel it is worth the extra fare. Comfortable reclining seats and movies are included. It was punctual, comfortable, and very very clean. As far as we are concerned, worth every penny