X’calachen (Sh-cala-CHEN) is a rather down-at-heel dusty barrio next to the Cementerio General and was once best known for its many Chicharronerias or Chicharron (pork crackling) stalls. Sadly, due to the lack of economic opportunity, these once thriving outlets have fallen victim to decay and closure. But in recent years, as the spread of urbanisation touches the fringes of Mérida, this barrio is having somewhat of a resurgence, and with that, it appears the Chicharroneria stands are making a come-back, though when I passed one of the main ones, it was rather quiet in the late morning heat. But I’m sure I’ll be back to this lively barrio to try my luck with a sandwich de chicharron.
Another sign of rejuvenation are the vividly colourful murals that are now cropping up around the streets, which has drawn tourists (and me, though I don’t consider myself a tourist….discuss…), from the relative comfort of the Centro Histórico to this far-flung barrio. From what I understand, each mural has some connection to the people who live inside – and from what I’m seeing, there’s a very happy vibe going on here.
Today is a national public holiday in Mexico, marking the birthday of Benito Juárez, the 26th president of Mexico, and the first indigenous president, born of Zapotec ethnicity in Oaxaca on the 21st March 1806.
I can report that it is a very quiet day here in Mérida – sleepy in the intense heat, ready for another scorcher tomorrow with 38 degrees. We’re heading to the coast for a swim.