the late part of the nineteenth century, Merida was thought to have
more millionaires than any other city in the world. It was surrounded
by henequen plantations. Henequen is the fibers of an agave and was
used to make rope and twine. So rich was this city that they built
main boulevard, Paseo de Montejo, in the image of the Champs Elysees in
Paris. Today it remains as it was; lined with lavish mansions. Merida
ranks as one of the cleanest and safest cities in all of Mexico.
I spent four weeks there in the winter of 2006 living with a Mexican family as part of a Spanish Language School http://www.modernspanish.com/. I lived in Colonia Miguel Aleman on the north east side of the city and went to school in Colonia Maya. One of the week-ends found me at the ruins in Uxmal and Kabah, to the south of the city on the Ruta Maya. One of the fotos below is from Kabah. I'm not partial to cities. I grew up in a town in Maine and lived for two years in New York City. I think if I had to live in a city again, Merida would top my list out of any place that I have been.
Maureen and I rented a car at the Cancun airport in the spring of 2007 and went off to Merida by way of Valladolid. We were tired from our flight so we drove only the 2 hours to this old colonial city and stayed the night at a hotel right on the zocalo http://www.mesondelmarques.com/. The next day, after breakfast we set out for Merida, passing through Izamal with all of its' buildings painted yellow. We went to Progreso and then spent the first of two nights at a hotel that was only a few blocks north of the Plaza Mayor in Merida. Maureen took this photo of me in front of the cathedral (the oldest in North America). Look how tall the front door is. First the Conquistadors dismantled the Maya temples under the direction of the priests and then they used the stones , as they did here, to build the church. The size was meant to intimidate the indians.
The next day we went to Tixkokob a place that is noted for hammock making. I bought a hammock when I was going to school and slept in it every night. We went on a field trip,to the house of the woman who made it and I got my hammock right from the source. Now Maureen and I went back to Benita's house to buy one for our friend, Jeff. We got a colorful one for Jeff and I bought a second natural colored one. Maureen took this foto of me with Benita and her family; son Max, daughter Mitzi, and her husband Javier. Javier and Benita took us on a little tour of their town including the market and the church.
Speaking of markets.....Merida has one! The kind that you find all over the world but not , that I have ever heard of, in the United States. This was , I think, the highlight of Maureen's visit to Merida.
I stopped in Merida after Campeche, on my return trip from Chiapas in 2009. This time I found a little gem of a bed and breakfast just three blocks south of the ADO bus station. Immaculate is the best way to call it and the owners, your hosts, are first rate people. Think about this as you walk those 3 blocks. Everyone has the same first impression of this neighborhood...scary! The laugh is on you as you shall see. It is anything but.
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