Weekend 15: Mérida, Yucatán

Visiting Mérida was like a going back to the 1800’s. The glorious mansions that line the Pasejo de Montejo are still there, reminding us that this was an important town that governed the Yucatán Peninsula, or at least the northwestern part of it during the Caste Wars. That information I will safe for a later post. What you can experience in Mérida is heat. The best times to be outside are before 10 am and after about 3 pm. Be warned and stay inside from 10 am until about 3 pm.

One of my Fulbright research friends, Shalanda, took me on a great evening walking tour from around Pasejo de Montejo to Calle 60, which is Mérida’s 5th Avenue (in NYC). We ate the best mole covered mushrooms at a small cafe. Later, we happened upon a book launching of community stories, too. The book is a compilation of stories that are from the Yucatán. I bought one for myself and one for students. I am sure these stories will enhance their understanding of the people from this area, especially the students who made videos of their communities in Maxcanú. It was all very serendipitous.

Did you know that there is a growing community of expats in Mérida? The weather and low cost lifestyle are what has fueled this town’s growth. I thought for 10 minutes about spending more time here, but the heat would really drive me away. To keep cool, the men here wear the traditional guayaberas which are shirts made of light fabrics like linen (local and Italian), cotton, and others. I bought one, probably overpriced, to wear during some blistering hot New York summers. The main industries here were logging (of palo tinto, or red cedar, used for English textiles) and henequen, a fabric made from the stately maguey plant. There is a great museum here dedicated to the yucatecan music and ballad singers from the 1930’s to 60’s. A must-hear for anyone who visits Mérida.

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