Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
Mérida – private garden

Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day. 

Our island weather is socked in, grey and wet; while a soggy tropical depression slowly passes over us.  With time on my hands I am daydreaming about another road trip in the dryer winter months.  

Maybe we’ll do two-day trip to an old favourite: Mérida.  Built on the ancient Maya city of Thó, Mérida is best visited in the cooler months of October to May.  June to September the temperature can climb to 40C or around 110F.  That’s too hot for us.

Mérida is about three and a half hours north-west of where we live if we drive the well-maintained toll highway system.  Someday we might venture along the back roads again, but that route takes a whole lot longer to get anywhere.  Every tiny little hamlet, or village has numerous spine-jarring topes (speed bumps) slowing the traffic to a crawl.   

Calle 60 at Calle 57 good hotel

On the other hand, driving in the City of Mérida the one-way-only street system takes a few minutes to get used to until you realize the odd numbered streets run at right angles to the even numbered streets.  

It’s a bit puzzling for a driver accustomed to the North American system.  In the USA and Canada the streets typically run in east-west direction and at right angles to avenues traveling in a north-south direction.  Eventually after navigating three times around the same block searching for an address Calle 60 #488 at Calle 57 – we figured it out.  

Will my brain retain that bit of useful information until the next time we driving in Mérida?  Probably not. 

Paseo de Montejo in Mérida at night

Even with the slight confusion of driving in Mérida, it is well worth the effort.  The city abounds in fascinating museums, art galleries, restaurants and boutique hotels located on the famous Paseo de Montejo, a wide boulevard featuring many fountains and statues.  

A few years ago we were treated to a private showing of art in one of the haciendas.  Many of the buildings in centro still retain the colonial flavour of when the Spanish overlords ruled Mexico.  On another visit to Mérida, we wandered the downtown area, stopping for a delicious dinner at Pancho’s and one of their famous flaming coffee drinks.

Lawrie – art galley in a hacienda

A number of our friends say that the best time to visit Mérida is during Carnaval (known as Mardi Gras in some cultures).  The festivities begin the week before Ash Wednesday or Lent, so the date changes from year to year according to the schedule for religious celebrations.  

In 2014 the dates are February 26th to March 5th.  For eight days the City of Mérida will celebrate with nightly parades featuring colourful floats, international and national bands, dance troupes in gorgeous costumes, and street dances.  The Presidente of Mérida estimated that there were more than a million extra visitors in the city during the event. 

We haven’t participated in the Mérida Carnaval festivities yet, preferring to stay on our little island and celebrate with friends.  

However, since this is a wet and rainy day, and I have been contemplating a winter road trip this just might be the year.

Flaming coffee at Pancho’s in Merida

Hasta Luego 
Lynda and Lawrie

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