Yucatan, Mexico — Johnny Monsarrat

Arriving in Merida

On Thursday, December 9th, we flew through Mexico City to the Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport in Merida. By the time we landed in Merida, all we wanted to do was crash for the night, so we proceeded to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

We chose to have a relaxing Friday wandering around the city. Merida is a fascinating blend of historic sites dating to the Mexican colonial era and modern structures and amenities like shopping malls, movie theaters, and universities. Of course some parts of the city are more crowded than others. We tried to stay away from the busiest parts of the city so we could see more of the history and real life of the area instead of what tourists usually see.

Before the Spanish conquered the area and founded Merida in 1542, Merida’s Main Plaza was the site of the Mayan city of T’ho, which included Mayan pyramids. Once the Spaniards had seized control of T’ho, they dismantled the pyramids. The stone they salvaged was used to create the foundation of the Cathedral of San Idelfonso. The Cathedral, constructed between 1566 and 1599, is the oldest on the American continent and sits on the east side of the Main Plaza.

The plaza is surrounded by history. The town hall, or Palacio Municipal, is right across from the Cathedral, on the west side of the plaza. The Palacio Municipal was built in 1735. Built nearly 200 years before that, in 1542, the Casa de Montejo, where the conqueror of the Yucatan once lived, sits on the south side of the plaza. Finally, on the north side of the plaza, the Palacio de Gobierno, built in 1892, contains 27 murals depicting Yucatan’s history, created by Fernanco Castro Pacheco.

Also in Merida, the Paseo de Montejo is lined with mansions built by the millionaires of the sisal trade in the early 20th century. Many of these mansions are fully restored, and seeing them is well worth the walk down the Paseo de Montejo.

At the popular tourist sites in Merida, it’s possible to spend far more than one might want. But away from those sites, everything is very inexpensive. For Saturday, we decided to set up a private tour guide. That would enable us to do what we wanted to do instead of being locked into a huge tour group where we would only be able to see what the group leader chose to show us, which probably would have been some of the more crowded and expensive places in and around the city.

Johnny Monsarrat: An interesting car we found on our walk around Merida.

Johnny Monsarrat: An interesting car we found on our walk around Merida.
Johnny Monsarrat: Strolling the streets, we came across these students with a dance performance.

Strolling the streets, we came across these students with a dance performance.

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