Hasta Luego Mérida

For the second year in a row, we’ve called Mérida our home for a couple of months, so we really feel like we’ve come to know this place. Our hood of choice this time around has been Barrio Santiago, one of our favourite barrios in Mérida, a tightly packed grid of hot dusty streets that are full of colourfully painted casas, each one trying to out-do the other in vividness and boldness. It’s a wonderful demonstration of self-expression where it’s quite normal to paint your house a vivid hot pink or a humming shade of yellow, next door to a radioactive orange against an impossibly throbbing blue. As you can see, I’m quite taken with this riot of colour! 

Our home for the past two months has been La Casa de los Abuelos (The House of the Grandfathers – is it trying to tell us something?). It’s a large sprawling traditional 100-year-old house painted (of course) in a vibrant golden yellow, located just a block back from the beating heart of the area, Parque Santiago. It’s been incredibly handy for the local Supermercado, Super Aki and the thriving local Mercado with (in my opinion) the best Tortilleria in town – a tiny hole-in-the-wall machine-run operation that churns out the thinnest freshest corn tortillas for 12 pesos for half a kilo. I need only approach the stand and the cheerful smiling woman hands me a warm bag of Tortillas, rightly predicting ‘medio?’ Needless to say they only last around a day, so I’m back there every morning getting another, fresh ‘medio’. Mercado Santiago is a bustling hot place where local produce can be had for a song – fresh tropical fruits, veggies, meats and flowers, whilst the other half of the Mercado is low-key dining with La Lupita regularly packed out, especially on weekends for breakfast and lunch. It’s a hot place at the best of times, with the overhead ceiling fans doing their upmost to move some air, but despite the cheap eats, it’s too hot for us to stick around, so we’re in and out with the tortillas, 3 or 4 large avocados, some cilantro, a couple of jalapenos and some limes – for a large bowl of Guacamole for later in the day. 

La Casa de los Abuelos is the epitome of a Mexican ‘shabby chic’ home – a tad run down in places with crumbling plaster on the walls and a truly eclectic style of decoration and furniture, but it works for us. The casa is massive, sporting 18-20 foot ceilings with whirring fans (plus AC if needed); three large living rooms with vast comfy linen couches; three large bedrooms, the largest ours; gorgeous authentic antique pasta tile floors (so cool underfoot); a large shady courtyard terrace and, most impressive of all, a huge tropical garden complete with sparkling swimming pool – which has been a godsend in the intensely hot days of March and April. Every day at this time of the year it hits 37 degrees, or more as we move towards May, the hottest month of all. In this, our final week, we’re expecting 40 and 41 over a couple of days. Overhanging the pool is a massive Sapote tree, dangling large Mamay fruit whilst the surrounding garden is packed with tropical flowering plants in bright reds, yellows, pinks and greens, with the Grackles and Parrots squabbling in the canopy above. I spotted a really large Iguana on the deck the other morning, taking a drink out of the pool. I’m not sure who was more alarmed, but he slowly waddled off, thumping on the deck and disappeared into the garden. 

We’ve had the most incredible time here in Mérida. The people, as ever, are super friendly and always when passing someone in the street there’s a cheery Buenos Dias and a smile. We’ve felt incredibly safe and secure here – more so than many other places we’ve been in the world. There’s the occasional police truck in downtown bristling with guns but I’ve never seen them in action as it were – more of a visual reassurance for tourists than anything else. Even reading the local English language newspaper, The Yucatan Times (as you do over a cup of tea in the morning), there’s no mention of any local gang violence, which is a totally different story from the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula where the drug cartels rule and warfare between rival gangs regularly spills onto the busy tourist streets and beaches of Cancun and Tulum. 

For now, Mérida continues to feel completely safe, calm and liveable. However, the imminent arrival of the controversial El Tren Maya, connecting the Caribbean hotspots with inland Yucatan (including Mérida) and the Gulf Coast may well change that situation. With the expected influx of mass tourism to the region in the coming years, streaming in from the mega airport hub of Cancun, let’s hope that the Cartels aren’t tempted to follow the hordes and bring drugs and violence with them. 

But for now, It’s hasta luego Mérida! Who knows what changes we might find on our next visit!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Bevanlee says:

    Your abode should be renamed Le Casa de los Onnis. What a fabulous riot of colour this latest batch of photos are. A shame you and the iguana so surprised each of that a photo was not possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheila and Ian says:

    Absolutely wonderful – have enjoyed your experiences albeit virtually.
    Have a great final week and safe journey home ‘Titos!’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We leave for LA tomorrow then onwards to Sydney on Sunday night, get home Tuesday morning. X


  3. Janet says:

    A lovely photo of you x Safe Journey home x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks darling! Currently at LAX awaiting our flight home this evening. X


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