We had a rather mammoth journey over to Mérida. First out of London with a strong wind chasing our tail over to Amsterdam, which resulted in one aborted landing and a 10-min nervous go-around. Thankfully we missed Storm Eunice, Dudley was already pretty hairy.
The new KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol is really quite special and not a bad place to spend 7 hours waiting for our 12-hour Aero Mexico night flight across the Atlantic to Mexico City, with a 3.30am local landing time, which meant an hour and half wait for the lounge to open and a 4 hour wait for our final flight of the day to Mérida. I know, it’s tough.
The last time we were in Mérida was perhaps some 30 years ago now when it was, from memory, a gorgeously intact Spanish colonial town with a strong Mayan cultural feel – out of the way from the usual tourist haunt of Cancun and therefore, relatively speaking, tourist-light. Fast-forward 30 years and a longed-for return to Mérida has finally eventuated.
We’ve arrived! Our home for the next 3 months.
Mérida has significantly grown to a population now probably exceeding 1 million – sprawling out into the flat jungle surrounded by ancient Mayan pyramids, endlessly deep and crystal-clear blue cenotes and the gloriously faded haciendas of the Yucatan – so much more of that to come.
Approaching Mérida across the Gulf of Mexico we crossed the dazzlingly azure coastline of Celestún and its pink salt lakes where flamingos abound – again, more on that later….
Mérida gradually emerges and builds in density in a low-level sprawl interspersed with modern 4-lane highways but surprisingly, not overly built up with no discernible high rise. I believe there’s been a long-standing moratorium on high-rise building in and around Mérida but sadly I learn this is to end with 100 high-rise projects slated for development in the coming years. The march of time? Or greedy developers cashing in on why Mérida regularly tops the bill as Mexico’s safest city and even the 2nd safest city in all of the Americas, pipped at the post by Ottawa!
No wonder there are so many ‘snow-birds’ here, escaping the frozen north.