Over a quarter of a century of inspired exploration and recording of our travels while living in Mérida, Yucatán, has led my wife and me to compile an impressive collection of outings that are the foundation for this blog, built one story at a time.
We look beyond the obvious popular tourist attractions, the luxury coast resorts and the modern conveniences of big cities to discover the unique Yucatán. From the Puuc hills to the extensive coast of Yucatán there are thousands of kilometers of paved quiet roads through countless Mayan villages interspersed with colonial haciendas and ancient Mayan ruins, all there just waiting for your visit.
You may travel the world over and never find a stranger or more interesting adventuresome getaway.
The tranquility of Yucatán speaks to us with powerful vibes of the mighty Mayan empire that flourished here.
From the top of a large Mayan pyramid, the Yucatán jungle still appears much as it did to John Stephens in the 1840s, when he said: “Ours was the first visit to examine these ruins. For ages they had been unnoticed, almost unknown, and left to struggle with rank tropical vegetation.”
Numerous buses depart Mérida for outlying villages across Yucatán and you will be able to sit back and be whisked along on the seldom traveled quiet back roads witnessing the quaint Mayan villages unaffected by the passing centuries.
When you explore the towns and villages treat yourself to an experience of a lifetime and hire one of the people powered tricycle taxis for a guided tour. This is something you can do nearly anywhere in Yucatán.
You are sure to see Mayan thatched roof homes still in use on village side streets the same as they have been for thousands of years…bring your camera!
Thirty years ago when Jane and I visited Yucatán over half of the homes outside of Mérida were palapas. The palapa was standard home construction for the Maya because all of the materials were available from the land. To this day you will find depictions of these homes carved in stone at area Mayan ruins.
Morning, noon, and night purveyors of Mayan specialty foods that change with the seasonal crops arrive at the village markets and quickly sell out. Some of Yucatán’s finest delights are only available at these places. Until you have partaken of the local favorites you haven’t sampled the real Yucatán. Mexico claims to have more than a thousand different variations of the tamales.
We learned one interesting piece of wisdom from the Mayan farmers. They told us that there was a big bank in town full of money but you couldn’t eat the money. Even though their crop had little monetary value at 25 pesos per kilo, they could at least eat it.
The Mayan staff of life, the corn (maiz) tortilla, is sold by the kilo, hot and ready to eat. All across Yucatán tortilla shops, known locally as tortillarias or molinos, can be found busily producing stacks of tortillas. Tortillas are sold by the kilo or even the gram. These little shops have a distinctive roaring sound that alerts us so we can then follow our ears directly to the tortilla shop. We feel that our adventure tours are not complete without the purchase of at least 250 grams or ¼ kilo to eat hot.
We jokingly say that the Yucatecan food is so good and plentiful that it could easily get you resembling a short stack of tortillas.
Mayan hospitality and social sensitivity is still alive and well in rural Yucatán. In a small village as I sat in the park a lady asked me if I was hungry. I replied that I was. Even though they had no tortillas at the molino, in a few minutes a little girl arrived in the park with tortillas and a big smile. We have always found that these wonderful people would freely share whatever they had.
In many outlying villages it is common that only one man will speak Spanish, the others Mayan including the children. A Spanish speaking man saw us eating just tortillas and told us he didn’t have much food in his house, only a pot of beans, but we were welcome to share it with him. The Mayan people will not let you starve.
After our outings we are able to scratch one more road trip off our list. As it nearly always happens when we remove one trip from the list, we add two more.
If we could find a better place we would surely be there.
Every day in Mexico is an adventure.
We pack a week’s worth of activities into just one day and you too will find it is easy.
Plan your outings for mornings because afternoons in Yucatán are made for hammocks.
©2012 John M. Grimsrud
The book for traveling adventurers who want to see more than just trinket shops and crowded tourist traps has arrived: Our book—built one stone at a time like the Mayan pyramids.
Yucatán’s Magic–Mérida Side Trips: Treasures of Mayab
Over a quarter of a century of inspired exploration and recording of our travels has led my wife and me to compile an impressive collection of outings that are the foundation for this book, built one story at a time. This isn’t a guide book but an idea book. It is something of another element not made to compete with guidebooks—it is made to complement them.