By: Susan Gerle
The city of Merida, Mexico is a great place to visit when staying anywhere on the Mayan Riviera. The shopping and the history are amazing. Take the bus or a taxi to the ADO (pronounced adio) Bus Terminal in Cancun. The bus leaves approximately every 2½ hours heading west. The city of Merida is about 4 ½ hours away from Cancun.
Occasionally you will see a traditional Mayan home built out of tree poles with a thatched roof as you travel along the highway. The fence around the property is built from stones placed strategically one on top of the other. No mortar is added.
We were told to get a taxi at the bus station because you can’t flag one down on the street like you can in many other cities. The rates are set for distance and it cost us 40 pesos to travel across town.
It has many old hotels as well as modern ones. The hotel where we stayed was the Dolores Alba on Calle 63 about 5 blocks past the main zocolo (square). The building is a very old landmark but a new wing has also been added. There is a pool for the very hot days, birds singing in the courtyard, and internet access. The rates are reasonable and the ambiance of the centre courtyard is lovely. The hotel rate included breakfast.
We stayed in the old section of the hotel, which tended to have a few drawbacks. First the wiring. I didn’t bring my converter with me for 2 prong plugs. It meant going down to the courtyard to charge up the battery on my computer, a slight inconvenience. Then the plumbing is quite antiquated. Don’t forget maintenance schedules may not be the same as your country. We changed rooms 3 times in 4 nights for various reasons but always with a smile on our faces. The Mexican people are wonderfully accommodating if you are patient.
We took a walk down to the square in the early evening the first night we were there. The buildings are impressive, especially the Cathedral of Merida, finished in 1598. In fact, the whole area is wonderful for experiencing the colonial Mexico.
The city was founded in 1542 and was originally a Mayan settlement with a number of pyramids surrounding what is now the city site. Merida is considered to be the longest populated city in the Americas.
Merida, now has over 900,000 people and is also the main shopping centre in the Yucatecan. We spent a rainy day experiencing the many shops and picking up very reasonably priced clothing. The next day we took in the local “mercado.” It’s situated on calle 54 and calle 67, within walking distance of the hotel. This is the local fruit and meat market. Across the street is the Artisan’s mercado where you can find purses and shoes and all types of wares, many handmade.
The best shopping in Merida though has to be at the main square on Sundays, called “Merida a Domingos.” Experience all the local music and dancing as you check out the beautiful Mayan products from all over the Yucatecan. Whether you are looking for a handmade panama hat or a traditional Mayan hammock, you can find them at the market and for less than half the store price. Because the prices are so low, they are set so don’t even try to barter unless you plan to buy in quantity.
Merida is also a stopping place for people visiting the many pyramid sites located close by. Because it is also a very safe and friendly city, many of the bus tour make Merida a destination.
About the author:
Susan Gerle tries to experience as many new things as she can in her travels.