This time of year it’s hot in Merida, Yucatan. REALLY hot. For instance today’s temperature is 93°F with 64% humidity resulting in a Heat Index relative temperature of 110°F. The best advice for surviving the heat is to live like the locals: get your chores and errands taken care of in the early morning hours, spend the afternoons in air-conditioning and then venture forth once again in the cooler evening hours.
It’s not so easy for tourists and travellers because they’re typically a slave to time (vacations don’t last forever except for retired guys like Shawn and me). For those trying to fit in as much as possible in a short amount time I would recommend: pace yourself and walk slow; take advantage of the shady tree-lined avenidas like Paseo de Montejo or walk on the shady side of the street (however you’re out of luck when the sun is directly overhead) and stay HYDRATED (note: beer does NOT equal water).
So many tourists and travellers never make it to Merida because they choose to stay in all-inclusive resorts on the Maya Riviera (like Cancun or Playa del Carmen). That’s a shame because there is a lot to see and do in the White City. Merida is a culturally rich and vibrant city of over 1-Million residents—it boasts world-class opera, ballet, theatre, symphonies and art. Centro Historico in the centre of the city is resplendent with Spanish Colonial architecture and tree-shaded parks. Venture further into the surrounding barrios (neighbourhoods) and you can experience authentic Mexico (surprisingly few tourists make the effort).
The dining experience is diverse with everything from American fast-food joints (Burger King, McDonald’s and KFC) to Italian and German cuisine and even Thai, Chinese and Japanese Sushi. But my recommendation is to try local Yucatecan food: Queso Relleno, Cochinita Pibil, Poc Chuc and the local tortas (sandwiches) and sopas (soups). Yucatecan food is different from what you think of when you think of Mexican food: no crispy tacos, no burritos, no chips & salsa, no rice & beans and even the tamales are different (moister because they’re wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks). The flavours are different too, subtle and very complex (different spices entirely from what you’re used to).
Our schedule seems to be filling up quickly: on Monday we will be visiting the Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve with its director (and friend) James Callaghan (it’s also the home of Puuc Jaguar Conservation); on Tuesday we will be spending the day at the local Cenotes; Sunday will be an all day trip to the lesser ruins of Ruta Puuc and then on Monday we will be heading to the small coastal fishing village of Celestun with its Ria Celestun Biosphere (home to migrating Flamingos, Hawks, Ibis, Spoonbills, Osprey, Turtles, Crocodiles and Caimen). We will be there four days and three nights and plan to eat plenty of seafood and drink lots of beer. Busy, busy, busy.
Note: To learn more about the Cenotes of Yucatan click here.