A Quick Introduction to Chelem

My hosts are leaving tomorrow and I have a full day of dishwashing to look forward to to set up my kitchen. But I didn’t have dish soap or scrubby pads (everything has a greasy layer of grime from my long time away) so I decided to pop into Chelem this afternoon to get a few thing at “Willy’s,” what passes for a supermarket in this sleepy fishing village. I am about 2.5 to 3KM from “downtown” Chelem and can get there by the beach. So it is walking distance, depending on how much time I have, how hot it is out, and what I need to bring back.

First stop was to exchange an empty water jug for a full one. I’m not sure how I feel about getting drinking water there since the process doesn’t seem particularly sterile. My hosts buy bottled water for drinking at Costco (I think it’s a 1.5L size) and only use this water for doing a second rinse of veggies (yes, they do the initial clean of the veggies with tap water) and to use for making coffee and cooking stuff like pasta and potatoes. I’ll have to see what I feel comfortable doing.

This is a colectivo, or minibus, that goes to Progreso. I can grab one near my house to go into Chelem or Progreso and then take a bus to Mérida. Depending on what I plan to do that day, that will likely be my preferred way of getting around as it will be much cheaper than paying for fuel.

Here is the main plaza/square:

I walked around for a bit and this is a typical street:

I got what I needed at Willy’s (it’s a bit “better” in terms of selection as to what I could get at the City Deli on Isla) and then wandered a bit to see what was up and if anything smelled good for lunch.

I wandered into this covered area with some stalls on each side of the aisle, some open with food cooking.

Some ladies saw me looking at menus and were quick to tell me what they had available for lunch. I asked for two tacos and sat down.

I’d bought that bottle of Fresca at Willy’s and would regret having nearly downed all of it before my tacos arrived. See that green sauce over top? The lady brought me the tacos without the green sauce and asked me if I wanted chiles. Yes, of course. So she brought me back a little sauce. Great, I love the green better than the red! But I assumed it was the readily available commercial stuff, poured it onto each taco, and dug in. Well…

It wasn’t the commercial stuff. Oh, the PAIN. I don’t think I’ve ever hurt so good while eating Mexican food. LOL I felt myself flush and, of course, my nose started to run and my eyes to water. I doled out my Fresca, bravely finished, paid, had a five-minute conversation the ladies running the stand (one said that I really should consider Progreso over Mérida — more house for my pesos and sea breezes while still having access to all the services I want…), and then hoofed it to a store across the square to get a fruit juice! I then headed home and didn’t get lost or stuck in the sand!

I’m told Chelem will come to life as the hot weather comes and folks from Mérida escape to the beach. So it will be interesting to see if more things open. There really wasn’t much today.

Besides this lunch counter, I’ve also been to two expat-owned restaurants in the area. I’ll be going back to both and will do posts then. One does Indian (!) for takeaway that is at least as good as anything I’ve had in England (!) and the other has very good pizzas, calzones, and salads, all at super reasonable prices (expensive for most Mexicans, but a bargain by expat standards).

My hosts are leaving tomorrow and then I will get working on properly settling in. As I said, I have to wash all the kitchen stuff, but I also have laundry to catch up on so I can switch to my own blankets, pillows, sheets, towels, etc. Once that’s all done and I’m more properly settled, I’ll share some pictures! Now, I don’t plan to give a full tour of the property, but I’ll show you my space (living room/bedroom + bathroom), the kitchen, and the courtyard with the pool. 🙂

10 thoughts on “A Quick Introduction to Chelem

  1. Ahhh! The tacos look wonderful. Now you have me dreaming of them too.
    Looks like you’ll have a nice little village to find your local things & transportation for longer treks.
    It’ll be great to have the place to yourself.
    Looking forward to more… more of Mexico!

    • The village is adorable. 🙂

      And it’s great to be on my own. Well, with a big slobbery dog!

  2. The taco lady has a point. It is always nicer near the sea (or in this case, the Gulf) and you can make “culture” trips into Merida. Something to think about.

    • I have considered Progreso, but I’ve been living in the boonies for so long that I really want an urban experience. I have a long list of things I want to be able to walk to.

  3. Not clear what your electrical usage costs will be, but you might find that some sort of heavy duty filter, reverse osmosis, or distiller unit to modify the tap water might be a good investment.

    We recently purchased a stand-alone distiller unit for travel, since our built-in former fulltiming distiller is now integrated with our house plumbing. It produces three gallons in a 24-hour period. If your electricity costs are high, it may be more thrifty to purchase modified water in large quantities, if you trust the source.

    • I’ll do a built-in water filter thing whenever I end up owning a house. In Mexico, good filtered water is so cheap and readily available that makes the most sense for a rental situation.

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