Hubby and I just returned from a much needed vacation in Merida Mexico…my new favorite place in the world!
I Could Totally Live Here
Wow is all I can say about this city of contradictions and juxtapositions. The city is a little gem, found on the Southern tip of the Yucatan. And while it is only about 3 hours from the touristy Cancun area, it feels a million miles away once you are there. One doesn’t just “end up” vacationing in Merida. It really is a place that you have to see in person to really appreciate. What it is not, is a typical “Spring Breaker” beach style, touristy place or the other extreme of being near a border town which is crime ridden with drug cartels and weekly beheadings. Merida after all, is considered to be the safest city in all of Mexico and is a place people go to live, not just vacation. It is home now to almost 10K Americans, Canadians, Italians and French who have decided to call it home. Despite this, there are very few “Western” chain restaurants or other hokey tourist establishments typically found in areas where large groups of Expats have taken up residence. And while there are a lot of locals who speak some English, most people expect and are expected to speak Spanish.
Wait, What Country is This Again?
The city sort of reminds me of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but multiplied by 10 with regards to the cultural activities, outdoor cafes, cathedrals, and energy. With French and Spanish historical landmarks surrounding every Zocolo (neighborhood square), it is apparent to me why Europeans and Westerners love this place. All of the cultural activities happen (and there are many, 7 days a week you will find something happening in the Centro Historico) in one of the many squares that are usually anchored by a large historical Cathedral, cobblestone streets, shops and outdoor cafes, horse drawn carriages, and hundreds of centuries old multi colored colonial homes that are being bought up by Westerners who are restoring the homes to their former glory. This area of Mexico was highly influenced by the French and Spaniards during the 15 and 16th centuries and it is evident by the colonial architecture and huge “Versailles” like mansions and tree lined sidewalk found on Merida’s own Champs D Elyse, the avenue known as Paseo Montejo. .. Again very different from anything I have ever seen in Mexico.
It was nothing to walk into what appears to be a gritty auto supply store, with ugly car parts hanging from the walls and ceilings, but then one glance downward and staring back up at you are these original, magnificent tiles that could easily be found in Paris or an Italian Villa in Tuscany. The ironic part, is that the locals could care less about these treasures, making it all the more enticing for foreigners to come and discover these hidden gems by restoring them to their wonderful historical glory! Apparently the wealthy Yucateans have moved away from the downtown city area and have chosen to live in the North part of the city in larger modern homes with big yards, similar to what we consider here in the states as the “burbs”. This migration of local wealth to the North, has left hundreds of these dilapidated colonial city homes which are still home to the lower and middle class locals and more recently the Westerners who can’t get enough of these limestone colonials still standing after hundreds of years…
Ah The History Is Everywhere
You can absolutely see the heavy Mayan influence in this area that was once home to the great Mayan Indians with many of the women still dressed in traditional Mayan dresses, selling their wares on the city streets, intertwined amongst the hustle and bustle of modern day city life.
We Met a Saint
Antonio and I also had the privilege of visiting a local dog sanctuary, Evolucion, started by a local woman, Sylvia Cortes or as we like to affectionately call her, Saint Sylvia Cortes. . I was moved by her story and the 170 dogs that she now is caring for.
History runs deep in Merida and Hubby and I are already planning our next trip! Adios!
Have you ever been somewhere that made you ready to just pick up and move there! Leave me a comment and let me know more!