Let’s be honest, a lot of Americans think beaches and beer when they think about Mexico.
That’s exactly what I thought before I had the chance to actually live there for about six weeks.
When I first landed in Merida, it was a little touch and go due to the unbearable heat. I’m still not sure if I just happened to land during a heat wave, or if I somehow adjusted as time went on.
My original housing situation had an A/C malfunction and I would find myself sweating inside of the stores there. No matter where I turned I was scorching hot, and I couldn’t seem to find any relief anywhere. I had a very negative perception of Mexico and didn’t expect much out of my stay.
I eventually found myself in a living situation with very cool air, and I was finally able to begin having a better outlook on things.
I feel as though Merida is a very livable town, as it’s not too overwhelming, but it certainly has a fast enough pace to be exciting.
I can’t say enough about how wonderful the people are; probably the best people I’ve ever lived amongst since starting my travel journey. I don’t even know how to explain this, and I know it probably sounds silly, but I truly love the people of Merida. Much like their city, they are not over the top, but just nice and interesting enough to keep you intrigued.
If you asked me to tell you about the Mexican culture, based on what I’ve learned in my short stay there; I’d say that they are the most nurturing and caring people that you will ever meet.
I never felt as though I was alone or that I wasn’t able to reach out for help. There is something truly unique and refreshing about the culture.
So now about the things I experienced.
Let’s Talk Restaurants:
I spent my Birthday with a small group of expats at Mercado 60. It’s a cute little alley with American food, all served in separate little booths. They have cute décor and a live band comes out in the evening. The food and drinks are reasonably priced. I give this place 5 out of 5 stars for sure. If you don’t feel like being too adventurous and you want to go to a place with a sleek and clean feel, this is the place to go.
Next there’s Apoala. I love the ambiance of this place, a very modern feel and the drinks are amazing. The food is a bit fancy compared to the typical Tex-mex that I love, but it’s certainly full of flavor. Known for their Top Shop Mezcal, they will more than likely use it when you order a drink, so if you are not a fan, be sure to tell them so in advance.
Finally, there’s Eliado’s
You have to come to this place when you visit Merida so that you can experience the joy of “Gratis Botanas” which essentially means “Free Appetizers”. This is a traditional practice at local Mexican Restaurants. You can literally buy one beer and you get enough Botonas to make a meal.
Oh, Wait! I almost forgot….you have to treat yourself to Dulceria Y Sorbetera Colon one evening for dessert. It’s located near the center of the city, and has amazing outdoor seating. There are often times musical performers out for your enjoyment.
As far as things to do in the city, I have to be honest with you, I spent all of my time, walking and eating. I enjoyed hanging out at the parks and walking through the colorful neighborhoods. I lived in the Centro area while there and I highly recommend it for travelers. It’s hip, convenient and safe. I’m sure you can find other blogs and useful content that will tell you all about the touristy things to do in Merida. I personally discovered most of my excitement and touristy interest outside of the city.
I will say, that it’s totally worth it, to hang out in Merida on a Sunday night. The place turns into a street festival every week. Expect to see dinner tables lining the street, live music, dancing and vendors selling everything from fancy fans to home goods, to street tacos and more.
Now for the things a little out side of the city that absolutely took my breath away.
El Corchito in Progresso
This little-hidden gem was serendipity if I’ve ever experienced it. I’ll spare you the long story regarding how I ended up there, but just know that when I arrived I had no idea what I was in for.
I dropped by on my way to Progresso Beach, so I was lucky to have on my bathing suit. I had no idea that I’d find myself riding a boat to a little island filled with furry animals that I’d never seen before and little lizards rustling through the leaves on their hind legs.
There was the most beautiful greenery surrounding me, with a stream running through the island filled with turtles and fish. The birds were even interesting and of a species that I’d never seen before. If they were to pipe some music into that place, I would have thought I was at Disney Land.
The highlight of this place for me was the chance to swim in the Cenotes. Cenotes are natural sink holes surrounded by limestones. They expose rain water that’s been filtered by the earth.
I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to be completely soaked up by this kind of nature. I highly recommend that anyone in the area heads over to this place. You will not regret it.
Celestun & Beyond
On my Birthday I treated myself to a day trip that included a trip out to Celestun to see the pink flamingos, take a Mangrove boat ride and kick back at the beach.
More Pink Flamingos,
Pink Water & Salt
So apparently I’d gone to Celestun during the off season and the number of pink flamingos was limited. I was informed that there was another area nearby, where I just might be able to see a few more. I decided to take a chance, rent a car, and go see.
Unfortunately, it took me and my travel companion Judy, hours to find the place. Between adjusting to driving in Mexico, the language barriers and the lack of signage, I have to admit that the journey to get there was a rough one.
Not only was the journey rough, by the time we got there it was pouring down raining.
Despite the hiccups, after sitting and waiting for the rain to clear, we were able to see the most beautiful flamingos and pink salt water. You could feel, smell and taste the salt in the air. It was an as amazing day.
The only thing I would have done differently was hire the best driver and guide in town. His name is Hugo. Please, if you want to find these hidden gems and not have to deal with the stress that I did on this particular day, give him a ring. He can be reached at +52 1 999 409 4053 or you can email him at [email protected] Be sure to tell him that I sent you 🙂
I so love this little yellow town. Noted as one of Mexico’s 35 magical towns, Izamal is an easy little trip to conquer on your way to the famous city of Chichen Itza. A wonderful chance to experience a charming village while visiting a convent, grabbing a bite to eat, taking a horse and carriage ride, and dropping by the Kinich Kakmó Pyramid. Oh and don’t forget to grab a Paleta from one of the many stands, to help you cool off if you find yourself there on a hot day.
Of course, everyone wants to and certainly should visit Chichen Itza: Deemed one of The New Seven Wonders of The World, it was everything that I expected and more. There is an energy that the city of Chichen Itza gives off that one can only feel. As much as I wish I could explain it, I can’t. You must go see what the beautiful Pyramid of Kukulcan and all of its surroundings is all about.
Be prepared for a day of exploration and shopping. I was lucky enough to experience a light shower on my way out and the calm before the storm was surreal, I could literally hear the sound of drums coming from the structures that surrounded me.
On our way home, we decided to go and have dinner in the nearby town of Valladolid. This town is about 45 minutes away from Chichen Itza. We didn’t have time to visit the beautiful ruins and Cenotes there, but it was fun to take a quick ride around the city.
I went on this journey with a local expat and the cool driver I mentioned above. We truly enjoyed our dinner at La Casona de Valladolid
Not only was it a beautiful place, the food was delicious and the Margarita was excellent.
Needless to say, I had a blast in Merida. I believe that it is a town and area that is hugely underrated. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to call this place home for a while. If you find yourself in Merida and the surrounding areas smiling as much as I did, please be sure to reach out and let me know.
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