Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mérida, Mexico

Mérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage and has moved near the top of our favorite places visited. It is the region’s cultural heartbeat. We took the ferry to Cancun, rented a car and drove about 200 miles on the toll road stopping at Valladolid for lunch - another town we greatly enjoy.

In Mérida, “the safest city in North America”, colorful pastels blend with historic charm along streets that seem to always lead to a plaza.  The locals in Mérida are very friendly, the food is delicious, and there are free musical events nightly. For us, the highlights were: Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortress like Mérida Cathedral and white limestone colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Mayan temples. Richard loved sitting in the park, wearing his newly purchased Panama hat, and people-watching.
Grand Plaza
Mérida, Mexico

Richard was in need of a haircut and so we stopped at a barbershop. He was given a great haircut that set him back about $2.50 USD.  While this may seem inexpensive, it is twice the cost of a good Mexican beer.

Las Vigas is a restaurant hidden up a stairway in the Los Arcos Hotel where most meals are delicious and less than 60 pesos ($3 USD). We all declared their mole the best we’d ever tasted. Ever!!

We opted to stay up past our bedtimes and venture to the “Evening Yucatan Serenade” in Sta. Lucia Plaza commencing at 9:00PM. This traditional and free open-air concert features Yucatan dress, music, and dancing. Kay and John had to sample a marquesita at one of the street stands. The traditional toppings are queso (cheese) and caveat (caramel syrup made from goat’s milk) but the Nutella filled ones were too hard to resist. Yummy and a bargain at 30 pesos ($1.35 USD).
Streets of Mérida

The Santa Ana neighborhood is the Soho of Merida and home to several art galleries.  Our favorite, Galeria Nahualli, is the gallery and home of Abel Vazquez and Melva Medina who create the most beautiful paintings, sketches, and sculptures.  Melva was lovely and welcoming and Kay could easily have found something to display in every room of our nonexistent house.

Mérida is filled with locally made handicrafts and we visited two Mayan Art Cooperatives featuring products like embroidery blouses from Oaxaca, carved masks, silver jewelry made with jade, amber, & obsidian, and lots of brightly colored hammocks and table runners. Our haggling skills are amateur at best and the shopkeepers are wily but we are happy with the carved Mayan mask and Panama hat we came back with.
Galeria Nahualli

On the return trip to Cancun we opted to take the free (libra) road instead of the toll (cuota) road which gave us the opportunity to pass through a number of small villages and towns - real Mexico. It was a fabulous 3 days!  Once back in Cancun, we found our way back to Isla Mujeres and Atalanta where we found our floating home waiting for us. 

Thanks for following our adventures.

Richard and Kay

PS: Murray enjoyed the trip as well.

More Pics from Mérida

Richard becoming beautiful
Street Art in Mérida
The Cathedral in Mérida 

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