Merida is Strange: It is not Mexico!

Merida is strange, it is not Mexico!

Wait, what! what do you mean?

-Merida is one of the safest city in the World. According to CEO world magazine, Merida is the second safest city in North America (after Quebec city). You seldom hear of crime. A similar article in Forbes magazine says that it is as safe as Europe. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. The police are very professional in Merida and research shows that they are paid higher than the national average. This clearly means they are less likely to participate in corrupt activities than in other places. They also have a very well-respected leader who has a national reputation for being one of Mexico’s best.

-Merida’s culture is a distinctive blend of traditions inherited from the ancient Maya civilizationdating back to 2600 B.C. and customs brought by Spanish conquistadors. Merida is recognized by UNESCO for its cultural heritage. It was founded as a colonial capital in 1542 by Spanish conquistadors, on the remains of the Maya city of “T ́Hó”. Today, it’s the capital city of the Mexican state of Yucatan. The city of Merida itself was founded by Francisco de Montejo y León.  It was recently awarded as “Best small city in the world” and “Best convention venue” by specialized tourism media.

-The heat has created peculiar customs. Weather is extremely hot especially from May through August.

The best time of year to visit Merida, Mexico is from October-March, when the weather is cooler and not so humid. The peak of the wet season is from June-September, which is also Hurricane Season. Though actual hurricanes are rare since Merida is about 25 miles inland, you can expect heavy rains during the season, which technically runs June 1-November 1. Due to being hot year round, Merida is considered the best place for Sun-Seekers.

Mainly in the streets of the historic downtown and surrounding suburbs, when the sun goes
down, it is common to see people outside of their homes “tomando el fresco” —colloquial to enjoying the cool—. They pull out chairs onto the sidewalk to enjoy the evening breeze while chatting with neighbors and relatives.

-In Merida and all of Yucatán, locals have a place to hang a hammock. With a temperature of 39-40 degrees, they believe that the mattress is not the best option. Some use them to relax or sleep through the night. When the locals rests or sleep in hammock, they “patear pared” —kick the wall—. This rocking happens by creating momentum with one foot pushing against the wall to create sway that gives a refreshing and relaxing sensation.

-It is also very common to see a swimming pool in most houses. A swimming pool or dipping pool is not a luxury; it is a necessity here. If one does not have a pool, you can take the bus or Uber to Progreso beach located about 45 minutes away from Merida. There are many wonderful Malls, smaller beach towns and villages to explore such as Sisal, the palm groves of San Crisanto, the flamingos of Celestun and the small town of Chelem. In addition. what Mérida has in high temperatures, it matches in cool cenotes: deep sinkholes filled with cool groundwater water.

-Merida was once the weathiest place in the world due to henequen plantation. Wealthy owners built their Spanish colonial mansions in town, while workers lived in or near the plantation. Henequen is an agave, a plant species native to southern Mexico and Guatemala.

In the nineteenth century, Yucatecans and their estates were responsible for providing the important rope fiber, also called sisal, to the world. It is believed that at the time, Merida was home to more millionaires than any other city in the world! Unfortunately all the opulence ended with the advent of synthetic fibers.

-Mérida, the largest city in the Yucatán Peninsula is an open museum. Steeped in Mayan culture and colonial history, Mérida is the only city to receive the prestigious Cultural Capital of the Americas designation twice.

Home to a large amount of archeological pieces that help to understand the development of the city from the pre-Hispanic to modern times.

-Dinosaurs became extinct here. The asteroid that wiped out the large reptiles hit what is now Chicxulub, 66 million years ago. The archaeologists had discovered the pattern, which encircles the Yucatecan capital, Merida, and port towns of Progreso and Sisal. They are trying to understand what had become of the Mayan civilisation that had once ruled over the peninsula.

-The pastel-colored colorful architecture looks like a cake. You can’t help but admire the broad central plazas, beautiful cathedrals and mansions.

San Ildefonso Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Latin America. Further north lies the leafy Plaza Santa Lucia, a neighborly hub where locals come to socialize and dance. Must see is the Pasejo Montejo, a wide tree-lined avenue inspired by the Champs-Élysées. On Sundays, city plazas come to life with locals enjoying cultural events, folkloric dancing and tented markets.

-Mérida is leading the trend, especially in renovation works of old colonial houses. You can easily rent a beautiful Colonial home on airbnb. With Merida being the third largest collection of colonial houses (just behind Mexico City and La Habanna) and it’s architecture  renaissance started about 2 decades ago.

-Progreso Beach in Merida is home to the longest pier in the world. It was built between 1937 and 1939  and although at first was two kilometers long, today it is more than eight kilometers. The pier has hosted countless concerts, sporting events and international visitors.

-The local gastronomy stands out for its taste and tradition. More than 300 restaurants are found from traditional to high cuisine, where they use ancient Mayan techniques. An endemic ingredients and a unique technique for baking and cooking with a system of burial of clay pots with dry wood that provides unique aromas and flavors.

-Everyone dances in the street of Merida. Merida is a city of music especially at night. Stroll through Plaza Grande on a Friday night and you’ll see local grupos jamming, African drums, trovadores walking around Centro, trios of men dressed in white and bearing guitars.

Local performers dance the Danza Vaqueria in front of the Palacio Municipal every Monday night.

Watch a Mayan ball game ( Pok Ta Pok) happening in front of the main cathedral, or older Mexican couples dancing to 1940’s Mexican music in Santiago park, a night bike ride in Santa Ana Park, or listen and join the pulsing music through cantinas throughout Centro.

-Uber is cheap and yes there is Uber in Merida. It is so much cheaper than in the U.S. Prices about $50 pesos ($2.50USD) for a 20-minute ride.

It is easy to find US products and stores here. Merida has Costco, Walmart, Carl’s Jr, Krispy Kreme, Burger King, Home Depot, Office Max, Texas Road house etc. You can find almost anything you want here.

Merida is full of cultural events, history, beauty, and some of the most authentic and genuinely nice people. The Yucatan people are what make Merida a truly wonderful and special place. The lifestyle and culture are also very different than any other Mexican cities I have visited.

These are all the reasons why Merida is strange and I love it!


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