Servicio al Domicilio
Yesterday, Working Gringa was roaming around an unrestored colonial home and fell, injuring her ankle. This necessitated a visit to the C.E.M. Hospital, a.k.a. Centro de Especialidades Médicas del Sureste (999-920-4040) across from the Hyatt on Calle 60. It's the closest emergency room to the house and we had been there once before a long time ago.
The taxi got us there muy pronto ($30 pesos from Santa Ana Taxi (999-928-5600), which we're told is an expensive taxi service but they do always show up on time). The receptionist called the doctor immediately and WG'a was only sitting for 3 minutes in the waiting room before an orderly rolled up with a wheelchair and took her into the emergency room. The emergency room had space for about 8 beds and was empty but for one other elderly patient. WG'a was laid out on a guerney, covered with a blanket and told to rest. The doctor, Dr. Arturo Ríos (999-943-5033 at Star Médica Hospital) arrived about 20 minutes later, looked at her foot and ordered a radiografía (X-Ray). Another orderly wheeled WG'a into a very modern and chilly room where a big X-Ray machine was waiting. The X-Rays were taken and she was returned to her bed in the ER. Five minutes later, the doctor reappeared and told her she had torn a ligament and would need a cast for two weeks. Did anyone notice how nicely WG'a's toes matched the hospital beds? No.
A nurse wheeled up a tray with water and supplies, and she and the doctor proceeded to apply a very nicely sculpted fiberglass cast onto WG'a's left foot. Five minutes later, WG'a was out of the ER and wheeled by yet another orderly to the caja (cashier) to pay the bill. The bill came to $700 pesos for the attending physician, $446 pesos for the X-Ray and $394 pesos for the ER and the cast. That comes to $1,540 pesos (about $146 US) for the entire event. A fraction of what an emergency room visit costs in California, that's for sure. And in a fraction of the time, too!
What does this have to do with Servicio al Domicilio, you ask?
Well, there she was, Working Gringa, stuck in the office, unable to walk at more than a hobbled snail's pace. She had been prescribed pain and anti-inflamation medication (the farmacía in the C.E.M. didn't have what she needed) and she needed a bota (a boot) to put on her cast so she could walk more easily.
Everything and more was available by servicio al domicilio (home delivery).
First of all, before she went to the hospital, we seriously considered having the X-Ray done in our home. That's right, for $350 pesos we could have had Radiografías en Su Domicilio (999-943-3036) come to our office and X-Ray WG'a's ankle. After we got back, we had her medications delivered by one of the many farmacias who offer home delivery. Ours was Farmacia Comercio San Cristobal on Calle 69 x 48 (999-923-3599). We also had the velcro-closing boot ($250 pesos) delivered by Ortopedia del Sureste (999-927-7428).
This got us thinking... what else is available for home delivery in Merida? And we realized that Merida is a lot like New York City in this way, because the answer is: "just about everything". In fact, Merida might even have New York City beat in a few areas.
In Merida, if you are lucky, you might just have a Mayan woman who walks down your street every so often delivering homegrown vegetables and fruits, as well as some home-made candy. Just about anywhere in the Centro, you can get dirt delivered to your front door by donkey (just listen for the guy yelling "Tierra!" at the top of his lungs). You can also get flan (custard-style dessert) delivered by the cart whose recording belts out "Llegaron los flanes!" (Here come the flans!). You can get your knives sharpened, your garrafones (big bottles) of water delivered, fresh rolls from the guy who honks an old bicycle horn in the afternoons or a fresh scoop of homemade ice cream from the guy on a cart who rings a bell. You can also buy handmade brooms, pots or hammocks from door-to-door vendors who come from as far away as Campeche. A new delivery service provides fresh milk, pasteurized by a local dairy on a hacienda close by. You can tell when the truck is coming because you will hear its distinctive "moo"! A quart of milk costs $20 pesos (about $1.80 US) and it is fresh and delicious.
All sorts of restaurants offer servicio al domicilio, but often just in the Centro or in the North of town. Pizza is delivered, of course. But there's also a few sushi places that deliver, (though we found that to be prohibitively expensive). S'MIR, a great place for takeout, hidden in the residential district behind CostCo, makes Lebanese and other botanas arabes, including their famous tangy, flavored humus, and they also deliver (999-944-8158). Our favorite lunch at work is Pollo Brujo, suggested long ago by the folks at Hotel Mediomundo. Pollo Brujo makes mouth-wateringly delicious grilled chicken, which comes with tortillas, escabeche (pickled onions fried, then aged in vinegar & wine), shredded lettuce and fresh salsa. One chicken with the fixings is $76 pesos, and well worth it when you can't leave the office to eat. Pollo Brujo has restaurants all over Merida, but ours is in the Centro (999-920-1980). When you buy something al domicilio for the first time, ask them for an imán. That's the Spanish word for magnet, and in this context you'll be asking for a refrigerator magnet with their name and phone number on it. If you like the service, it will come in handy.
Keep in mind, servicio al domicilio is not just for food! Our vet does servicio al domicilio, as do many others here. Pets & Company (999-943-7787) is run by a charming couple who are both veterinarios. Sandra cares for small animals, and her husband specializes in horses (and he speaks English!). They came to our house on a Sunday morning at 8 am when our dog was hit by a bus. They come at scheduled times to give our cat an allergy shot or to update our pet's vaccinations.
We also get our plane tickets delivered by the local travel agencies, who come to the door not once but twice (once to pick up our credit card and once to bring it back with the ticket). Both Dennis at Yucatan Trails (999-928-2582) and Ruben at the local American Express office (999-942-8200, ext 42210) work this way (and they both speak English too).
Our friend Madeline is even more creative. She claims that almost anything can be brought right to your door. Just call up the store that you want to buy something from and get the price for your order. Then call TaxiMetro (999-168-0510). This is the low cost taxi service in Merida that has meters. (As a point of comparison, the taxi ride BACK from the hospital with TaxiMetro only cost $18 pesos). TaxiMetro will come pick up your money, go to the store, get your goods, and bring them back to you... voilá! servicio al domicilio, á la carte!
One last note: Be sure to tip the person who delivers stuff to you. We tip $5 to $10 pesos for most deliveries, but have been known to be more generous if we're feeling really grateful.