We have settled deep inside the vast confines of Yucatan’s capital – Population 1,000,000 plus – something we don’t notice while living in the historical district, where houses occupy a variety of maze-like colonias made up of ultra-narrow streets and hidden alleys. Not so, Paseo de Montejo, which is the long, ultra-wide avenue toward which most tourists, expats, and even locals gravitate to congregate.

 Why? Because this broad avenue is absolutely splendid! Beautiful! A gorgeous place in which to sit and watch the wonderful Yucatan culture at work and play. From the bicycle festival each Sunday (the Paseo closes for an endless parade of weekend riders perched on every imaginable kind of bike), to romantic, horse-drawn, flower-encrusted carriages clip-clopping their way alongside the curb, to all the lovely historical buildings lining the length of the avenue, interspersed with authentic cafes and shops (where one might even buy a pet beetle studded with tiny gemstones), and most glorious of all, the magnificent shade-trees providing mass protection from Mexico’s merciless sun while waiting for some far-off sea breeze to make its way finally, but generously, into town.

Stephen F. Dennstedt having a cigar

Cigars. We want cigars!

“No problem,” says Alex, the ever-jolly propietor (with Chris, his more sardonic partner) of La Boheme, already our first stop every morning for espresso coffee and egg croissants. Especially on Sundays when the bicycles run. “You can get them at Grand Plaza. He points. “I’m sure you can walk there,” he says.

One hot and humid morning, we set out hiking down the Paseo, heading for Grand Plaza. It must be several blocks ahead. We walk. We keep walking. We ask a passer-by: “This way to Grand Plaza?” A vigorous nod, and a finger points. On we walk. Some guy pops out of a big hole in the ground. Overheated, we speculate what might lie beneath. We ask directions. He points. We walk.

Ultimately, we reach Grand Plaza. We purchase our cigars. We head back into the intense heat for our return. Dehydrated, exhausted, suffering from the overwhelming sunlight, we sit down on the curb and drink two life-saving sodas.

Rain in Paseo Montejo

We walk on. When almost home, the sky suddenly, unexpectedly breaks open with a crash. The rain pours down. The streets flood almost instantly. We seek refuge in a Wal-mart covered patio. Such sudden storms frequently besiege this great city, flooding streets and sidewalks within minutes. Drainage is a problem. We worry about the fellow in the hole. Soggily, we slosh our way home, both drenched and heat-stroked. Ecstatic that we have ventured forth so bravely. And that, at last, we have our fine cigars.


To be continued…

For The Yucatan Times
Joel R. Dennstedt


Joel R. Dennstedt, born and raised in San Diego, California, lived 15 years in Alaska. He is the author of ORANGE CAPPUCCINO, his debut novel, HERMIT, GUANJO and IN THE CHURCH OF THE BLUE-EYED PROPHETS amongst other literary works… In 2012, Joel embarked on a lifetime journey to travel the world. All of Joel´s books are available on Amazon, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble.