On a baking hot Saturday morning, my walk took me down bustling Calle 64, all the way to Barrrio de San Juan, through the yellow colonial gate and over to the intriguingly named Ermita de Santa Isabel – the Hermitage of Saint Isabel. Built in the 16thcentury, the Hermitage is dedicated to Our Lady of the Good Journey, the church being on the Camino Real from Mérida to Campeche and a stopping off point for weary travellers, where you would find rest, food and company.
Calle 62 splits in two just after the colonial gates, so I took the A path, Calle 62A, which revealed a gorgeous low-rise curve of multi-coloured casas on a cobbled road, dazzlingly bright in the morning sunshine.
I love that Mérida embraces colour so much in its residential buildings, really absorbing the extraordinary tropical light, so that the colour seemingly glows from within. I don’t think I’ve seen a more vibrant city and, I have to say, the vibrancy is matched in almost every aspect of Méridian life, with the intoxicatingly sensual salsa music wafting in the air and the early morning cooking smells of fresh tortillas. I’m in heaven.
This barrio and the slightly more down-at-heel San Sebastián are probably ‘up and coming’ areas – and likely a whole lot more affordable than say Santa Lucia, Santa Ana and Santiago, but let me tell you, there’s so much potential here! There’s a lot for sale, some ready to go, whilst others are definite projects, depending I suppose on how deep your pockets are.
The property market here is perhaps unsurprisingly pitched at ex-pats and overseas investment but when you compare prices with the hyper-inflated markets of London and Sydney, they’re incredibly cheap! So tempting.