The city of Merida

Trip Start Jan 16, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2006

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Sunday, February 5, 2006

Sun. Feb 5, 2006
Merida, Mex.

We left at 9 am this morning for our tour of Merida. The guide, J.J., took us down the Paseo de Montejo, a broad tree-lined avenue of elegant mansions, and pointed out homes of the wealthy-one was of Fernando Valenzuela who played for the Dodgers. Henequen a spiked cactus-like plant was once all over this part of Mexico. The high damand for henequen products like sisal rope made Merida a city with more millionaires than any other city of comparable size. We also saw the henequen factory that went out of business in the 70s after synthetic threads became popular. On the other side of the street were the homes of those who worked there, built by the factory for the workers.

Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan, and is a city of over 800,000 people. When we arrived in the central district, we got off the bus and went to the governor's palace where there are murals that depict the struggle of the Maya when the Spanish conquered the Yucatan area. Then we went to the big cathedral that is the largest in the Yucatan. They were having a service so we could only walk through the back part of the church. The cathedral was built from 1580-1630 and was built on top the Mayan temple that had been part of the Mayan site and stones from the temple were used to build the cathedral. We continued walking around the zocalo and came upon a vender of panama hats. The vender picked one out and put a hat on me and everyone liked it and then several of us purchased panama hats, which can be rolled up and carried in a bag and then it returns to its original shape. They are made in a cave and the dampness causes it to stay pliable, thereby able to keep its shape for its lifetime. We continued on to a tienda that sells men's and women's clothing. Several men bought guayabera shirts and the women bought blouses and shorts.
We had some time to walk or explore but not enough. We went across the street to a coffee shop and got lattes to go, and then took a quick walk around the block and then had to get on the bus. The bus took us to a Walmart that doesn't look like a Walmart because it doesn't have all the logos and colors of a regular Walmart store. But the inside is just the same and we had an hour to shop. We're still looking for a coffee pot to use on the stove when we are dry camping, but they don't seem to have coffee pots in Mexico.
We were bussed back to the RV Park for two hours before we left to go to Hacienda Kancabchen for the evening. This hacienda is about 300 hectares, or 500 acres and is a working cattle ranch. They produce 5000 liters of milk a day, and also some sisal rope. The milk is supposed to be the best tasting because it is fresh, whereas the milk you buy in the grocery store in Mexico is in a box. The Ponce family rescued the hacienda from ruin and has built it up to a tourist attraction, but it is still lived in by the family and all the workers still live on the ranch. There is a lovely chapel that is used by the workers for Sunday worship. One of the workers and his son gave us a demonstration on how sisal rope is made by hand.
There was a rodeo going on and we watched for a short time, but it wasn't too interesting and we didn't like seeing horses roped. We also saw a mock cockfight, and numerous animals in a small zoo that they are being rehabilitated and kept from extinction. We also got a tour of the hacienda house, which is lovely. It has a great porch that is used for outdoor living. We then were served dinner in an upstairs patio over the barn. The dinner was mostly meat of different kinds and some local specialties. Before the dinner while we were waiting, we were treated to another exhibition of Mexican folk dances with their brightly colored costumes.
Another wonderful day!
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