Doorways of Mérida

As you may have guessed I’m totally captivated by the vivid colours of Mérida and, more and more, the varied doorways of the older colonial homes. The worn exteriors of these sometimes humble casas are painted in the brightest of colours, often wonderfully clashing with their neighbours, peeling away and weathered by the baking sun, the raw limestone revealed where the render has fallen away. The doors are full of character and god knows how old – cracked, peeling and desiccated. It’s an essential part of the look and charm of old Mérida. Newly renovated homes embrace the local love of colour, though sometimes look a bit too ‘done’ for my liking. But give them time in the tropical sun and they’ll be oven-ready before you know it. Other doorways are much larger, more elaborate and hark back to the boom days of the henequen trade, entry ways into far grander homes and palacios. 

But it’s what lies behind these various doors that’s so intriguing to me. Occasionally, if a door has been left ajar, your eye may be drawn into a well-loved room crowded with books and old furniture; or beyond to a lush green courtyard with the splash of an aqua-marine pool in the dazzling sunlight; a cool pasta tiled floor; tall ceilings with large whirring fans; a plane of colour on a wall with palm tree shadows playing; or a modest room with sleeping hamacas and plastic chairs with colourful wipe-down tablecloths. I’m totally smitten. 

It’s amazing just how varied the architecture is in Mérida – the Centro Histórico features calle after calle, as I’ve said, of low-rise lime stone casas in a dizzying array of bright colours. But then… around the corner will be a grand 19th Century villa, a large sprawling townhouse and even a palacio or two. There are Art Deco villas and 50’s Jetsons-style homes; 17th Century convents and 1960’s brutalism; 70’s and 80’s ‘forgettables’ and ultra-modern sleek bunkers. But just outside of Centro in the northern barrios of Mérida is where some of the wealthy residentes live in their cool condos and gated communities with access to the Americano side of town. Here you can access all the staples of Walmart, Sears, Costco, Sams Club, Starbucks and Maccas et al. A side of town we’re not overly keen to explore, but understand that if you need it, it’s there. 

There seems to be plenty of property for sale here and, talking to a local realtor, a lot of potential purchasers, no doubt fuelled in part by Mérida’s status as the safest city in all of Latin America and, the 2nd safest city in all of the Americas, apparently pipped at the post by Ottawa in Canada. So I guess it comes as no surprise that with the Mexican lifestyle on offer and the low cost of living, expats are buying up here, picking up an unrenovated casa for under US$100k or a fully renovated beauty with gorgeous pool for US$250k. So tempting…

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bevan Lee says:

    You’re sounding there like Merida is singing a siren song to lure you ones back


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