For my husband’s birthday this year, we went to Merida, a historic colonial city 4 hours from Cancun. Merida’s been on our radar for almost a year. When we start to feel tired of the city–wanting more space, wanting to feel like we have an adult home and not this crappy apartment that we spend more on than most people do on their mortgages–we pretend it’d be easy to drop everything and buy a house in Merida, sight unseen. So to make that fantasy seem a bit more attainable, we visited.
The Yucatan reminds me of southern Florida in terms of weather. We visited at the end of January: the mornings required a light jacket, but by 1 or 2 p.m., when it’s not overcast, it would be downright hot. By 6 or 7, it’d be cool again. The locals said by May it’s a dry heat, and then in June the rainy season begins, bringing unbearable humidity that lasts into October. So, basically Florida.
It met all my perfect life requirements though: we had breakfast and coffee outside every morning. That is essentially my life’s aspiration at this point, to be able to do that.
The city is a cultural center. Every Sunday, at least in the winter, there’s a street festival in the historic centro. We walked the few blocks from our hotel to the square at 7 or 8, and there was still plenty of dancing in the streets.
We mostly used Merida as a base for day trips. Our first full day we rode a bus for 2 hours to Celestun, a fishing village that is also home to flamingos in the winter. We chartered a boat from here out to the ria.
One of our other day trips was to Cuzama for the cenotes. Cenotes are natural pits filled with freshwater, often underground in caves. (For a much better idea of what they look like, here are good examples).
It was otherworldly down there. The stalactites reminded me of renderings of stellar nebulae, just tremendously beautiful.
And of course, we visited ruins. There are tons in the area, but the big draw is Uxmal. It was an interesting site because you could see both a pyramid in ruins and one restored.
Though we have no plans to move any time soon, Merida’s pretty compelling. Buying a restored colonial home is affordable, and getting one that’s ready for a gut reno is downright cheap.
But then there’s real life.