Alas…Merida Is Not For Everyone

July 28, 2011

Merida is a beautiful city by every measure—but she is also very REAL. And while there are tourists here, Merida is not touristy. If you are looking for the pop and sizzle of a resort town, skip-it, this isn’t it. Merida is not an in your face, action-packed sort of place. Merida is a large city of about one million people that feels small yet is still generally unknown and off the radar. And that’s one of the reasons I like it!

Still some visitors complain and subsequently leave confused or disappointed. But why is that? Perhaps some didn’t do their homework prior to coming to the city, or maybe they read a fluff-piece that did not adequately cover all of Merida’s ‘realness’. Perhaps the weather was too hot and humid when they arrived. Or perhaps they were expecting the conveniences of home, or a hotel while staying at a colonial house. The reasons could be infinite.

I come to Merida to enjoy the culturally rich heritage, history and uniqueness…the differences! I come to Merida to explore the ancient and mysterious Mayan culture, the pyramids, the Spanish and french influenced architecture, the Cathedrals, Museums and the Cenotes, the wildlife, the people, the food and the music—-all of the elements that breathe life into this gentle and friendly city.

The ugly truth about Merida is that in all her beauty she can also be noisy and gritty. Some sidewalks are narrow and broken. Buses can rush by inches from your face on bus routes. Trucks spewing exhaust in heavy traffic can periodically crowd streets with noise that can distract and frustrate. In various areas of the city overhead utility lines still hang and cross-route everywhere. And while that may sound off-putting to some, it’s absolutely what attracts me to this place. It’s real! Merida works! This is a functioning, thriving economy where people from all over the world make their way in life. Merida is a dichotomy of sorts that can be beautiful and unsightly; clean and dirty; refined and coarse all at once.

But Merida listens and she is constantly improving.
Now on weekends in the Historic Centro traffic is rerouted and free for pedestrians to roam the streets. Streets and parks are well-manicured and clean. Overhead lines are fast disappearing underground and bus and truck routes are being rerouted to minimize congestion. Though Merida is not perfect, nor is she gentrified. And while tourism is an industry here, Merida does not depend on tourism to make it work like so many others.

But the best way to see and appreciate Merida and surrounds is to toss your schedule! To really ‘SEE’ Merida, you have to ‘get-slow’. Slow down and feel the rhythm of the city. Start by sleeping away the afternoon and stay up late in the Historic Centro. Relax and enjoy the plazas and parks where they are alive with activity reminiscent of Europe. Sit for awhile and watch the world go by. Merida has heft and she has soul and you can feel it in the air…but only if you can slow down.

So please do come to Merida… Come for the differences! Come and ‘get slow’ with us. We’d love to have you stay at Casa La Barenda too. (email:


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