Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Merida, historically the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula

Merida, historically, the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula

24 Julio 2015

Campeche to Merida, Yucatan
Travelling northeast across the flat plains of the Yucatan Peninsula, the land gradually changes from agricultural to scrub brush, generally quite dense about 10 to 15 feet tall. The smaller farms are lined with rock walls after the rocks were cleared to find enough soil for marginal crops. On arriving into Merida, the colonial past is apparent everywhere, but while Campeche had its wall to scribe a line between old and new, the transition in Merida is more of a blend. This may account for more old buildings being left abandoned, often with only the crumbling, beautiful old facades still standing.
Government offices and Cathedral on the Plaza
One of the courtyards at Alvarez Guest House
People in Merida are very friendly and proud of their city but it is very much a commercial city of today, not just a colonial heritage. We were fortunate to find the Alvarez Family Guest House close to the central plaza in an area surrounded by several parks with their old churches. Enrique, who manages the Guest House, maintains a quiet house with a maze of courtyards and stairs that the rooms face onto. The construction is old and the rooms are immaculate with common kitchen spaces available.

Yucatecan food is delicious and quite different in its preparation than most of Mexico’s food with the Chaya dishes a must try.
A horse drawn carriage with its own horse umbrella

A unique aspect of Merida is the number of horse drawn carriages that ply the streets of the city center, particularly in the cooler evenings. Although the streets are narrow and motorcycles and supersized buses work their way around the carriages, the small statured horses seem completely at ease with the traffic carrying their tourist cargo into the night. Fortunately, Merida, like many other colonial cities with narrow streets relies heavily on one way streets to maintain the traffic flow. There is also an interesting street numbering system with the odd numbered streets running east west and the even numbered streets running north south. In Meida’s case, the central square is bounded by Calle 61 and Calle 63 on the north and south and Calle 60 and Calle 62 on the east and west. When you get an address, the street number and the cross streets are most important because building numbers are just sequential and have no relation to the block you are in. Strange compared to our numbering that is based on blocks, but very effective.
Colonnades on the Plaza
There was particularly good evening music and traditional dancing happening every night at Parque Santa Lucia, sometimes quite formal in the presentation and other times much more of a rehearsal done purely for their dancing pleasure.
We, as usual, walked our obligatory 110 miles a day, seeing numerous churches, museums and presentations.  Only Englishwomen and mad dogs go out in the noonday sun and we know where that leaves me!

No comments:

Post a Comment