Salvador Alvarado Sports Park
Now that we have a dog, we go for walks in the morning. Sometimes very early. This morning, we left the house by 5:15 am and drove to the Salvador Alvarado Sports Park, on Calle 60 north of the Hyatt and Fiesta Americana hotels.
Early in the morning, this sports park is surprisingly well attended. Surprising at first, but upon second thought, maybe not so much. At 5:30 AM, Merida is cool and fresh. By 7:30 AM, it gets hot and muggy. When would you rather exercise?
The sports park is open and free to all. Its a huge field, surrounded by a yellow painted wall. Within the wall are lots of beautiful trees, including flamboyanes and lluvia de oro trees... at a certain time of year, their alternating red and yellow blossoms are quite beautiful. But here, the trees serve a dual purpose. Besides looking good, they also serve to shade the walking/running track that surrounds the park just inside the wall. In the center of the track, is a smaller, official track with lanes and a grandstand. An Olympic sized swimming pool. Four tennis courts, a handball court and a sixties-era workout area that looks like an adult swing set. It has bars for doing chin ups, platforms for doing sit ups... that sort of thing. All iron and painted in once-bright, now-faded colors. There are also two basketball courts and two baseball diamonds, and an enclosed area that is used for salsa exercise classes on certain mornings.
This morning, as we walked on wet grass in the center of the sports field, the sky was dark and the moon was exactly overhead. Only the tennis courts and the handball court were lit, so we could even see the stars. The tennis courts were full, and there were people swimming quietly in the pool. Groups of two, three or more people were walking purposefully around the track in the dark, talking quietly. A few loners walked by themselves, but here in the Yucatan, people seem to prefer to exercise in groups. There were two middle-aged women doing sit-ups in the workout area and the handball court, lit up like a jewel in the night, was totally empty.
We don't know who loves this time more... us or the dog. He gets to run free in the grass, and never seems to abuse the privilege by barking or bothering anyone. A quiet walk in the wet morning grass under the stars with a dog is a precious thing. A fresh start to a new day.
Update in 2016: It's no longer permissible to walk your dog in Salvador Alvarado Park, sadly. We did love that early morning grass time. Salvador Alvarado Park continues to upgrade itself with new and better facilities. It's still a great place to engage in a walking routine around the perimeter of the park, under the trees. Early mornings or evenings are best, of course.