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Mérida

[Roman Statue (sketch)] I had a Roman amphitheatre to myself for 20 minutes.

If that had been all, it would have been enough.

Mérida is mostly a gritty place, which looks better by night than by day, but the former Civitas Augusta Emerita, capital of Roman Lusitania, has Roman ruins up the wazoo. In the middle of town, they are restoring a Roman temple (misnamed Temple of Diana: it's actually a temple of the Imperial Cult, but that's boring), and the Vía Trajano runs through a triumphal arch, past that temple and past the remnant of the Forum. There's a great museum of Roman art, a very well preserved Roman Theater, and Roman bridges still in use. Unfortunately, it's often hard to work out what is preserved, what restored, what reconstructed.

There is also a street full of nightclubs called Calle John Lennon. (By the way, the residents also look better by night than by day, though in their case it is not a matter of lighting selectively and hiding the peeling paint. It's more that the night crowd is younger.)

The weekend I was there, there were two conventions in town: women's NGOs following up on Beijing, and motorcyclists of the sort who don't believe in helmets, headlights, or mufflers. Quite a mix.

By the way, in the museum, there's this little clay Roman lantern with this very curious image of a horned god and flail. Since I've gotten back, I've found myself playing with this image in my art. Credit where it's due.

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First posted: August 1996
Last modified: April 5, 2002

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jmabel@joemabel.com

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