After our Caribbean island fix it was time to head inland and across the peninsula to Merida, the Yucatan’s biggest city and cultural centre. The city is a hub of colonial architecture and narrow, colourful and historical streets. Merida is known for its museums, free daily public performances and vitally for us – food!
The main square is the heart of the city and the place where most of the action takes place. It is also home to the stunning Merida cathedral.
However, the rest of the square is just as beautiful. We really enjoyed just sitting in the shade and watching local life unfolding around us.
Every night (and often in the day too) something was happening in and around Merida’s public spaces, it was excited wandering around each evening to see what was in store for us that day.
We had really enjoyed the food on Isla Mujeres but it felt quite repetitive and touristy, catering for the, primarily American, holiday crowd. In Merida we well and truly made up for that with a wide variety of local dishes from street food stalls, local cantinas (where you order a drink and get given several plates of food for free!) and yucateca restaurants.
Luckily the local square at the end of our street had a great little open air, cheap food court with tasty breakfasts for us each morning.
We loved wandering around Merida’s city streets, seeing the old colonial city gates and many plazas. However with average temperatures of about 35-38 degrees we couldn’t stay out long!
Another interesting part of the town was the Paseo Montejo – a grand tree lined avenue, which was regularly shut in the evenings and for periods of time at the weekends for people to walk (or cycle) along. The buildings along here were particularly grand.
Along this street we visited the archeological museum which had an interesting exhibition on Mexican masks, covering Mayan masks, masks from indigenous groups around Mexico and masks used for the day of the dead festivities.
Another day we visited the epic Museo de Mundo Maya – which covered, very thoroughly, everything Mayan.
On our final day we decided we couldn’t handle the heat any longer and took the advice of a waiter in a Mexican cantina and headed 45minutes to the northern coast to the seaside port town of Progreso – a firm favourite with local people to cool off in the summer heat.
We whiled away the day on the beach in the shade sampling some traditional Mexican drinks. This included a ‘chelada’ which is a beer based cocktail with lime and salt and a ‘Michelada’ which was more of an acquired taste with its combination of beer with lime, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, chile and salt. The Margarita was definitely a safer bet!
After several days it was time to leave Merida behind us and travel onto another, smaller inland town – Valladolid.