Tropical & Colonial aesthetics in Mérida
It has been a week now since we came back from beautiful Mérida and I still haven't been able to figure out how to get it out of my head. I went there with a solid (and now obsolete) idea of how old / boring this place must be. After all, it is known that its main tourism consists of older travelers seeking cultural and historical encounters.
I was wrong, oh so wrong. First of all, Mérida's historical ''Centro'' is a colonial dream, very similar to the Havana in Cuba. All houses are perfectly painted in every single rainbow color there is. Buildings and houses have been cautiously preserved over the years, its floors are an unexpected pattern adventure, I'm obsessed.
These are places that were once built in the 1800's after the Spanish came to invade and colonize México. After agreeing on a ''peaceful'' way of living together, Mayans and Spanish established its way into what would become our modern Mexican culture and race (mestizos).
Strolling through Centro and Paseo Montejo, you can see numerous amounts of museums and theaters, with most of them having been first houses inhabited by Spanish conquerors, Montejo, and his people.
Other picturesque houses are now occupied by boutique stores, small hotels, handcrafts stores and most important of them all: Cantinas. Cantinas are traditional Mexican pubs that still look and function in the exact same way they used to hundreds of years ago. But Cantinas are no quick topic here, they are so full of history and interesting facts, that they deserve a whole new blog post with detailed information of which ones are worth the visit.
Just like Cantinas, every bit of Mérida still keeps most of its authentic traditions and customs. Another good example is its famous ''sorbeterias'', which are handmade fruit sorbets that taste like heaven itself. One of my now personal favorites, sorbeteria Colon is located in the historical Centro and has been making these sorbets since the 1900's. What I loved the most? Getting there all sweaty (Mérida is a VERY hot and humid place, even more than Playa del Carmen or Tulum) and being received by 70+-year-old waiters with a small glass of cold water to cool you off before ordering your treat. A tradition that won’t ever end.
This city is known for its love of culture, they nurture this love in every way, every day: There are major plays at the local theaters just about all year round, Centro is occupied by musicians, crafts and many other cultural shows and events.
For all the young (and not so young) travelers out there, there is one thing I can say after my visit: Mérida is art, literally. Its colorful streets, a deep love for authentic handmade culture, their preservation of Yucatan's artisanal goods, art, design and their cultural appreciation of their traditions, still stand solid. People from Mérida are warm, welcoming, smiling and respectful, they are all part of a modern civilization that was once conquered and then changed forever.
This is the kind of place that will put everything in perspective, the stigma of a colonial place being boring or old must end. A place like Mérida is more than perfect in a way that visually and culturally, it has everything: The most ancient and amazing cenotes, secluded archaeological sites and some of the most stunning beaches, all are found near Mérida.
I’ll be writing more and more about this city and its surroundings soon, stay tuned everyone!
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