Mérida

- YUCATAN STATE -

© Etudiante Vagabonde. Photo : Ruines Maya de Uxmal

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July, 20th

 

After this amazing morning navigating between the mangrove swamps in the Ria Lagartos Natural Reserve, I took a bus in the early afternoon to go to Mérida, where I was about to spend a whole week. There I didn't sleep in any hostel, a friend of my family welcomed me in her beautiful house in the heart of Mérida. She welcomed me very well and then we immediately walked around the main squares of the city. 

The city center of Mérida is really nice to walk in and relaxing on big squares with trees and benches. It's the perfect place for churches lovers, the city has so many I can't count them. Among them, the oldest church in the America's : the Cathedral of Merida, which right across the street of this Grand Park on my pictures.

Tip : Mérida is the cheapest place to buy a lot souvenirs from the region comparing to the Riviera Maya side.

In the heart of the city : Plaza Grande 

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July 24th, 2018

I woke up early this morning but for a good reason : to visit the famous Maya ruins of Uxmal, located 62 km south of Mérida, as soon as it opens to avoid the hot sun and the massive tourist groups. I went there by car with two other people met in Tulum and Valladolid. 

This ancient maya city is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Maya culture. Its construction is dated from around 850-925 AD. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its significance.

Honestly, I preferred this site than the more famous one, Chichén Itza. The space was bigger and we could go up some temples, which is something I enjoyed to see the great view around, with all the ruins going out of the trees in the distance. 

Uxmal Mayan ruins

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Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

July 21th, 2018

Today we're driving in direction of this former Hacienda called Sotuta de Peon and its cenote. Built at the end of the 19th century, this is one of the rare hacienda still alive, where you can actually live the full experience of the sisal production (called Henequén in Spanish) like in the past. It gives you a real idea of ​​what was once a fully operational Hacienda Henequenera.

 

At the end of the 19th century, the exportation of this plant was one of the main productive activities in the region of Yucatan. Now, all these haciendas have been transformed as hotels or museums. 

During the tour, we discovered the whole process of the rope production with the white sisal. The last step of the visit, just before the cenote, is at the Maya house of Don Antonio, who explains us the old habits and traditions of the Mayan population and their way of living.

To end the excursion, we were transported on wooden platforms called "Truks" pulled by mules on rails to get to the cenote Dzul-há, where we could refresh our bodies after this journey to the past. This cenote is in a cave, with amazing stalactites and cristalline water.

The hacienda is located 45 minutes away from Mérida and it offers two tours per day, one at 10.00 am and a second at 1.00 pm, from Monday to Sunday. The tour costs $550 MX for adults and $275 MX for children.

Around Mérida, many haciendas can be visited, and almost each one offers a cenote really close. I did a second Hacienda visit during the same day, at the Hacienda Mucuyché, not far from the Sotuta de Peon.

Hacienda Mucuyché

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July 21th, 2018

Visit of the former hacienda Mucuyché. This building from the 18th century has not been restored, there are only ruins and some rests of old paints on the walls. This hacienda was one of the numerous belonging to the family Peon, very renowned in the region. It was difficult to imagine this building back to the time of the Mexican empire.

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Cenote Mucuyché

A few meters away was situated the two Cenotes of the Hacienda Mucuyché. In 1865, the Empress Carlotta was the first one to swim in these cenotes. Staircases coming down up to the first cenote were built just for her. We went down the stairs and took a bath in the first cenote.

 

Then, a heavenly canal leads to the second one, hidden under a cave, with deeper water than the first one. The water is magic with its color blue crystalline. The small hole in the roof allows the sun to reflects the water on the rocks, which is wonderful. We could observe old ganders dating from the last century at the bottom of the water while we were swimming few meters above. The ceiling of this cave was filled with more or less big stalactites, very well maintained. Impressive columns also came up from the bottom of the water.

The price to visit the Hacienda and enter the cenote is around $400 MX which was a big budget for one activity while I was travelling, but it's sure worth it ! This cenote has been my favorite so far.

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