Mérida Mexico Things to Do: Yucatecan Excursions

A trip to Hacienda Petac will surely include a visit to Mayan ruins, a swim (or several) in a local cenote and, of course, plenty of time dedicated to poolside relaxation. Between morning yoga and lessons on how to cook with the traditional Yucatecan oven, a pibil, it’s easy to forget just how much there is to do in bustling, nearby Mérida. Below, find a list of excursions and activities in our favorite city. And when you’re exhausted from exploring? A massage and a cocktail will be waiting for you.

 

1. If you plan on being here for an extended period of time, consider taking some Spanish classes. Immersion is a tried and true method. The Centro de Idiomas del Sureste offers Spanish language courses at any level and can be a great group or solo endeavor. We can also arrange group lessons here in the luxury of the Hacienda.

 

2. Mérida is a city of romantic inclinations. Every Thursday for the past 40 years, the city’s beloved Serenata Yucateca has been performed outdoors at Parque de Santa Lucia. Be sure to see the serenade; it will be the soundtrack to the remainder of your trip.

 

 

3. On vacation with your kids? Take them on a walk through a giant aviary at the Centenario Zoo’s bird exhibit or ride the trolley through the park to catch glimpses of the animals of the Yucatan. Thursdays at the Zoo feature live music and dancing and the special show “To Remember is to Live,” which starts at 4 pm.

Just one of the animals you’ll witness aboard the zoo’s trolley.

4. Who doesn’t want to explore the lavish henequen-era mansions of downtown Mérida? The Mérida English Library offers architectural tours of both renovated and to-be-renovated private homes and their gardens every Tuesday during the busy months. Bonus: every week’s tour is different.

Take a tour of Mérida’s most appealing homes and gardens.

5. In need of a pick me up between museums? Swing by Fe y Esperanza, a hole in the wall snack shack that has been popularized for its tacos, tortas, and agua fresca fruit juice. Or, visit Dulcería y Sorbetería Colon, which was founded in 1907 and features tropical sorbets and drinks. They have so many flavors to choose from, it’s hard to pick only one.

 

For a taste of the city’s favorite sweets, visit La Dulcería.

6. Sundays in Mérida are the most exciting day of the week. The Plaza Grande transforms to become one part marketplace one part concert venue. Roads are closed to traffic and opened up in the morning to bicyclists and seekers of crafts, antiques, food and drink, then to dancers and singers in the evening still partying from Saturday night.

 

Saturdays nights that bleed into Sunday mornings are the best part of the week.

7. Learn a few dance moves from the locals every Tuesday evening at Santiago Park as a local group plays big band music of the ‘40s.

 

8. Go cheer for Los Leones, the Yucatan’s baseball team at their baseball stadium, Parque Kukulkan.

Home to the Yucatan nine, Los Leones, the stadium in Mérida is full of spirit.

9. Eat some botanas, traditional appetizers meant to accompany cocktails. Most local cantinas have their own specialties (as well as their own house bands) but definitely order empanadas and ceviche, and try siquilpac, a dip made of roasted calabaza seeds and tomatoes.

 

10. Particularly if you’re on holiday with the kids, consider a visit to “Miniaturas,” an aptly named shop that sells the traditional Mexican folk art form. From dollhouse furniture to satirical masks, this fun little shop is perfect for souvenirs that you’ll actually keep. Next, take a visit to the Fonart 100% Mexico store in the Casa San Angel Hotel to see their high quality crafts for sale that come from all over the country.

A wonderful shop which is practically a museum in itself.

11.  Mérida’s busy Market District, just a few blocks from the Plaza Grande is where you can measure the pulse of the city. From adobo to hand-woven hats to fresh flowers to live chickens, you can find everything here, and people watch as well.

You can find anything you can think of in Mérida’s market district.

12. Is your Spanish improving? Catch a flick at the Cairo Cinema Café, an independent movie theater and coffee shop where a ticket price includes popcorn and you can bring your own wine.

 

13. Drink up! The popularized horchata, made with rice and cinnamon, is a wonderfully refreshing drink. But Mérida is all about fresh juices. Sit along the Plaza Grande with an agua fresca made from hibiscus jamaica, limon, sandia (watermelon), cantaloupe, guayaba, pineapple, barley, or chaya (leafy green vegetable with lots of vitamins).

Mérida has the best fresh fruit juices and horchatas around.

 14. Once you’ve experienced true relaxation here at Petac, you’ll want a way to bring the feeling home with you. Hamacas El Aguacate offers traditional hammocks that will help you do just that.

 

15. Want a traditional Yucatecan outfit to wear on the plane home? Consider a visit to Camisería or Guayabera Jack’s where you can find traditional guayaberas and huipiles and have them custom tailored to fit you.

 

If you think you’ve seen all that Mérida has to offer and want to explore outside city limits, here are a few day excursions that, while requiring a car and a map, promise adventures in their own right.

 

1. The Celestún Biosphere Reserve lies west of Mérida in the fishing village of Celestún and is famous for its pink flamingos. The estuary here as the river mixes with the Gulf of Mexico’s saltwater creates the perfect environment for the beautiful birds. You can also take a boat ride to the nearby petrified wood forest.

Famous for the gorgeous flamingos that call it home, Celestún is worth the trip.

2. What’s more exciting than exploring Yucatecan caves in which the earliest Mayans lived worshiped, and even left hand prints? If you’re looking for an adventure, about an hour and 40 minutes south of Mérida are the hard-to-find Loltun Caves, used during the mid 1800s as a hideaway during the War of the Castes.

The Loltun Caves are believed to be the original temples of the Maya.

3. There are a number of wonderful museums in Mérida, but one of the most fun is the EcoMuseo del Cacao, about an hour and twenty minutes from downtown Mérida, a museum dedicated to the history, cultivation and uses of cocoa by the Maya. Depending on when you go you can catch reenactments of a traditional Mayan ceremonies and, of course, enjoy some samples.

At the EcoMuseo del Cacao, learn about the place of cocao in Mayan history and its modern cultivation.

4. For an overnight trek outside of Mérida, a worthwhile trip is one to Isla Holbox, the island village off the northeastern tip of the Peninsula. Known for its beautiful stretches of beach, it is the only port in Mexico where visitors are allowed to swim with the incredible (and peaceful) whale sharks.

Make the trek for the beautiful waters and the peaceful whale sharks.

 

 

 

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El Grito de Dolores —The Cry Heard Around the World

The 16th of September marks the anniversary of Mexico’s 1810 declaration of independence from Spain after 300 years of colonial rule. The celebratory day, known as “El Grito de Dolores,” is named for the battle cry uttered in Dolores, Mexico that began the revolution. “El Grito” was first proclaimed by a charismatic and irreverent Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. A rejector of clerical celibacy, questioner of the existence of hell, and lover of gambling, he also vehemently opposed the colonial government. After Hidalgo’s secret coup d’etat was squashed by a disloyal church member, he rang the church bells of his small Dolores parish and delivered a speech that–although never actually written down and the details debated for 200 years –called upon his parishioners to declare war against Spain.

“Long Live Father Hidalgo,” celebrates a 1900 print. Courtesy Library of Congress

“My children,” he is said to have claimed, “a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government!” Hidalgo rallied very early on for the redistribution of land and racial equality in Mexico while never condemning either the embrace of monarchy or loyalty to the Catholic church. In 1810, with a mounting and racially mixed militia, Hidalgo led a trail of bloodshed all the way to Mexico City, where he was ultimately defeated and executed in 1811.

Although the War carried on for another decade and independence wouldn’t actually be achieved until the 1821 Treaty of Córdoba – wherein Mexico was named an independent constitutional monarchy–it is Hidalgo’s call to arms that remains proudly in the memories of Mexican citizens as the moment of independence. Now of almost mythic proportions, the “grito” has come to be synonymous with the very notion of Mexican independence. In modern Mexico, it is a holiday whose celebration begins the evening before, on the 15th of September at exactly 11 pm, with political leaders all over the country reenacting Hidalgo’s historic speech in public squares. The President of Mexico rings the bell in the National Palace, acknowledges the famous heroes of the Revolution, and leads the country in a patriotic cry of “¡Viva México!” (said three times.) The largest of these takes place in El Zócalo, the central square in Mexico City, where over 150,000 people gather to join in the celebration.

Independence Day Celebrations in Mexico City, Courtesy Condé Nast Traveler

The 16th of September, which is a fiesta patria or national holiday, is dedicated to family, food, parades, bullfights, rodeos and dancing. Although quite a distance from Mexico City, here at Hacienda Petac we are already planning the celebration with our favorite foods and cocktails. Nearby, Mérida will be awash in green, red and white as the holiday is celebrated in typical Yucatan fashion – a blend of Mexican and Mayan traditions – with the city gathering downtown to shout the “grito” in Spanish while dressed in Mayan outfits. A spectacle indeed, don’t worry if you can’t make the celebration itself; all of September is, in fact, El Mes de la Patria– Patriot Month–and is a wonderful time to visit in its entirety.

Local dancers celebrate el Grito de Dolores in the Yucatán, Courtesy Yucatán-Holidays

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Uxmal Photography: Magic Lantern Slides

We’ve found a fantastic portal to Hacienda Petac’s past in a previously forgotten collection of magic lantern slides from the late 19th century. Magic lantern slides, the predecessor of the slide projector, have been around since the 1600s, long before the advent of photography. A relatively simple premise, magic lanterns use small glass slides with images hand painted on them. Illuminated originally by candle – then kerosene lamp and, later, electricity – they are projected onto a wall so that the image appears much larger than it actually is. Once all hand drawn and used primarily as a means for entertainment, magic lantern slide images of the late 19th century grew serious and became reliable historical tools with the technological advances of modern photography. Although by the 20th century they had lost favor after the invention of the more practical slide and overhead projectors, magic lanterns still offer us a charm-filled glimpse into our area’s history.

Frederick Catherwood’s 1844 drawing of Uxmal

Our own collection includes photograph slides from the Yucatán before restorations were made to Maya ruins as well as images of henequen haciendas from their heyday. While some of the glass slides were hand painted and colored, others are in black and white, but they are all 3.5” x 4”, a size common of the late 19th, early 20th centuries. This first set – some of our favorite images – show the ancient Maya city of Uxmal, now a UNESCO historical site, about an hour south of Petac.

Magic Lantern photographic slide of Uxmal

Magic Lantern photographic slide of The Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal

Magic Lantern photographic slide of The Governor’s Palace at Uxmal

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Merida Architecture: The Avenue of Beaux Arts

One stroll through Mérida’s downtown is all it takes to be enchanted by the city’s gumption and glamour. The Yucatecan capital, which burgeoned throughout the 18th and 19th centuries during the boom of the henequen industry, still maintains much of the architectural charm from its golden years. Just as successful henequen plantation owners built haciendas such as Petac in the countryside, political figures, foreign investors and wealthy socialites constructed lavish palaces in the city proper.

Palacio Cantón

Palacio Cantón

Within Mérida, many of these grand mansions were built along on the Paseo de Montejo, the main artery of the city. Following a surge in the popularity of French culture, this beautiful tree-lined street was refashioned during the prosperity of the henequen years after Paris’ Champs Elysées. Even now, 150 years later, the boulevard offers visitors a visual primer on the then trendy beaux-arts architectural style. At the time there was a distinct rejection of Hispanic culture, and even cultural affiliation with Mexico City, from independent and affluent Yucatecans. A French aesthetic grew in its place and, as many visitors to the city note, Mérida maintains many resemblances to the streets and homes of old New Orleans.

 

Known for its sculptural decoration and eclectic opulence, the beaux-arts style of the late 19th century is the aesthetic culmination of the previous two and a half centuries of French architectural ideals. Named for the distinguished École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the style had expanded to the New World by the late 19th century and dominated growing cities and newly independent governments who sought to impress the international community with urban development. The oversized detail, bold sculpture and generously decorated, utility-driven spaces that define the beaux-arts style are very much what make downtown Mérida’s architecture so impressive. The Palacio de Gobierno, for example, which was built in 1892, is defined by large rooms known during the period as “noble spaces,” and features massive historical murals painted directly on walls of its similarly large courtyard.

 

Such an embrace of the beaux-arts style is reflected perhaps most notably, though, in the building that now holds the city’s museum of anthropology. Palacio Cantòn, built between 1904 and 1911, was once the private home of a wealthy Yucatecan governor, made the official gubernatorial residence in 1948, and reopened as a museum in 1966. The palace’s flat roof, conservative lines and strict devotion to symmetry – all while embracing ostentatious arched windows, luxury materials imported from Europe and large sculpture – are classic trappings of the beaux-arts style.

 

Now home to the region’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic Mayan ceramics and sculptures, the Palacio Cantòn is the city’s jewel. Whether you walk down the Paseo de Montejo, ride a bike down the street on a Sunday morning when the street is closed off to traffic, hop on a calesa (a horse drawn carriage) or take an open bus tour of the city, the museum, tucked amongst a street of mansions, will catch your breath with its elegance.

 

Mayan artifacts meet a beaux arts interior where crystal chandeliers hang above centuries-old artifacts.

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Mayan Pottery 101

Although the Maya are well known for creating a multitude of art—sketches, wood carvings, stone works—they are perhaps best known for their pottery. Driven both by function and aesthetics, pottery became a ceramic canvas for the Maya to tell stories, venerate the gods, commemorate the deceased and much more. Here’s a quick tour of four pieces from four distinct periods of the Maya civilization. All are from the Mayan Art of the Americas permanent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Next time you’re in New York, we highly recommend that you take a look at these. They’re all the more stunning in person.

 

The very early Maya used hollowed-out gourds as containers for liquids and food. With utility still in mind—they were light, portable, and sturdy— these gourds inspired the shape and size of the Maya’s first pottery creations. Clay was easily collected in riverbeds of the highland valleys and was strengthened with ash, sand or bits of rocks. The Maya created pots by winding long coils of clay into the desired shape and then smoothing the edges. The pieces were then fired in kilns built expressly for the setting of pottery.

 

Late Preclassic Period (250 BC – 250 AD)

 

During the Late Preclassic period, the design movement of adding appendages to these pots (also known as ceramic vessels) was developed. Pottery from this period featured increasingly intricate human and animal forms. This bowl, where utility and imagination merge, is an excellent example of the sophistication that had developed by the end of the Late Preclassic Period.

“A characteristic ceramic bowl was one made in the shape of a tropical bird, perhaps a cormorant, in the act of catching a fish in its beak. The bird’s forehead is marked with a disk, probably depicting a mirror. Details of the bird are rendered on the lid, where its head forms the knob and its wings spread out onto the expanse of the lid. The fish is rendered three-dimensionally, carefully held in the wide bird beak.”  Image and Description via The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

 

Early Classic Period (250 AD – 550 AD)

 

Attention to detail flourished in the Early Classic period, which lasted from about 250 AD to 550 AD, and ushered great creative expansion throughout the entire Yucatan and the Mayan world. The Temple of Inscriptions at Pelanque, in Chiapas, was built during this time, as well as the Governor’s Palace at Uxmal. Scenic mosaics of battles, rituals and ball games were emphasized in ceramics and incorporated into rituals and sacrificial ceremonies.

“This magnificent high-gloss blackware bowl is decorated with carved and incised feathered serpents. Profile human figures are seated in front of their bearded jaws. The bodies of the serpents undulate with regularity around the circumference of the vessel. The figures are perhaps emerging from the underworld as the bearded, feathered serpent is thought to be a personification of that fearsome place. A bowl carved with serpents and human forms; likely a scene of the underworld”  Inscribed with dots signifying  539 AD.  Image & description via The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

 

By the fourth century, a number of unique pigments had been refined and were being incorporated during the firing process to add color and depth. The classic Maya blue, for example, was used frequently during the Mayan Classic period around 550 AD. Remnants of the color pigments can be seen in the “Censer with Seated Figure” below, which is estimated to be 5th- 6th Century.

“The smoke from burning incense, accompanied every major ceremony in the Maya realm. Depicted on the censer illustrated here is a seated figure, perhaps a ruler, surrounded by aspects of mythological creatures that are stacked about his head and symmetrically flank his sides. The central figure is in higher relief, sitting cross-legged with arms carefully positioned in front of his chest. The position of the hands, held inward and touching, is known from sculpted stone monuments, where it carries connotations of rulership.”  Censer with Seated Figure.  Image and description via The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

 

Late Classic Period (700 AD – 850 AD)

 

By the Late Classic period (700 AD to 850 AD) and the Terminal Classic period (after 850 AD) salt plumbate was used regularly in plates and bowls the bright orange and deep red hued pottery now associated with the Yucatan had become the default colors used by the Maya as seen in the funerary vessel below, likely from the 8th century, depicting a young lord.

Maya polychrome ceramic vessel. “A palace court scene is depicted on the exterior of this cylindrical vessel. An elegant young lord, seated on a throne, wears a grand feathered headdress and a large collar of beads and pendants. Two seated male figures of lesser rank face him, and between them is a vessel shaped much like the one on which they are depicted. It is filled with a foaming liquid probably made of honey or cacao. The depiction of the luxurious life of a wealthy and powerful young man is overlaid with references to death. The vessel is undoubtedly a mortuary offering.” Image and description via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 

Today, the tradition of Maya pottery still thrives. Many pieces have lasted the test of time and can still be viewed and studied. Mérida’s Yucatan Museum of Anthropology maintains a charming collection of ceramics. In Ticul, about an hour from Petac, pottery remains at the financial and cultural heart of the town. Once known for the production of clay water storage tanks, the pottery industry of Ticul has adapted to be one much more about artistry. From clay masks of Mayan gods and mosaics depicting Xibalaba, the underworld, to commemorative altars and elegant pots and plates, local artisans are thriving and continue to by selling their work in nearby Mérida.

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In Search of the Real “Cinco de Mayo?” Visit Puebla Province.

 

Celebrated locally in Mexico as The Day of the Battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo commemorates May 5, 1862 when an underdog Mexican army defeated the behemoth French military in a small town just outside of Mexico City. It was the middle of the 19th century and France had occupied a near bankrupt Mexico since the end of the Mexican-American War. President Benito Juárez had just declared a suspension of foreign debt payments, and the European powers were angry. While the American Civil War raged in the North, Britain, Spain and France sent their navies to Mexico to threaten Juárez and collect on their loans.

 

Napoleon III of France considered the debt a window of opportunity for establishing a French stronghold in Latin America. Although the French army outnumbered the Mexican army two to one and was significantly better trained, Mexico emerged victorious. This defeat of the proverbial Goliath lent a sense of patriotism to the suffering country.

 

Today, where the battle occurred in the State of Puebla, schools and businesses close for the holiday, and the sense of national pride is strong. Cinco de Mayo, which many wrongly think of as Mexico’s Independence Day, has become more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico proper. In the U.S. Cinco de Mayo has transcended its own history, with little or no relation to the original event…becoming a colorful and somewhat raucous annual party centered around Mexican food and drink.

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Introducing our new Casa Ramón Building

The newest addition to the Hacienda Petac estate is called Casa Ramón, named for the towering trees that offer a canopy of shade above it.  As with the rest of the Hacienda, we believe that the greatest purpose of any building is to bring families and friends together. That’s why the plans for this 3,000 square foot annex with two master suites, also included an irresistibly inviting terrace and a state-of-the-art entertainment salon big enough to host a group for movie night.

 

Ramon Trees at Hacienda Petac

 

We also considered that any new building at the Hacienda should be as memorable as the old. For this reason, the innovative Casa Ramón design is very much an evocation of the beautifully grand hacienda architecture of the Yucatán. The expansive terrace, soaring columns and colorful tiles are all very classically Yucatecan. But, just as importantly, the new building incorporates Petac’s history without imitating or diluting the Hacienda’s colonial past.

 

 

 

By design, the Casa Ramón’s dual use as a house and an entertainment teatro affords us the opportunity to send a nod back to a unique part of our past. To enter the new complex, guests walk through the partial walls and stone remains of what once were the Hacienda’s schoolhouse, theater, and teacher’s home. We have purposefully included these remnants of the past, in order to retell their story.

 

 

According to those who still remember the trio of buildings, they were beautiful structures of both stone and wood, painted to match in the same colors as the casa principal. The little compound was home to both morning and afternoon school sessions. Students could attend from either 7am to 10am, or, from 2pm to 5pm. The theater was used to recite lessons and poetry.  At the back, with walls of stone, was the school teacher’s house.

 

As the story goes, about 65 years ago, the teacher decided one day between school sessions to take the narrow gauge railway that ran through the Hacienda, into town to buy some ice cream. Apparently, a candle was left burning in her absence, and by the time she returned, the wooden schoolhouse and theater had burned to the ground. 

 

A permanent school was rebuilt–from cinderblocks this time–three years later in the village of Petac. The stone foundation of the teacher’s house, a column from the teatro and the charred rubble of floor tiles still remain at the Hacienda.

 

The legacy of the school house, theater, and the teacher’s blunder, are preserved as we welcome the beautiful new Casa Ramón to Petac’s historical record.

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Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAwzfSqMNk4

 

The vernal equinox, the day each spring when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun and so night and day are of roughly equal length, falls on March 20th.

 

Lucky for us, there are two extraordinary locations near Hacienda Petac to view the event. Chichén Itzà and Dzibilchaltún, both just outside of Mérida, are considered to be the most impressive places in the Yucatan to witness the fusion of Mayan astronomy and architecture.

 

The Maya, known for an almost preternatural understanding of astronomy, built the pyramid at Chichén Itzà in honor of their serpent god Kukulkan. The angle of the sun was accounted for in such a way that during the equinox, the cast of the sun forms seven isosceles triangles that resemble a feathered serpent slithering toward its stone head at the base of the pyramid (see video above).

 

As Chichén Itzà’s serpent is meant to show the might of the gods, Dzibilchaltún’s Temple of the Seven Dolls, which was originally built in 700 AD, demonstrates Mayan architectural precision. At sunrise during the spring equinox, the sun shines directly between the doorposts into one window of the temple and out the other. With the “arrival of the sun” a beam of light shines over the thousands of worshipers and tourists that come for the event each year.

 

The Maya measured their lives by the sun, and as such, the equinoxes had practical importance for them as well. The spring equinox marked the time to begin planting the corn crop and the autumnal equinox signaled the time to begin the harvest. For us at Petac, the event summons a bit of nostalgia and appreciation for our culture’s history but also reminds us that the warmth of spring will soon be here.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/chichen-itza/

http://www.yucatantoday.com/en/topics/dzibilchaltun

 

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Carnaval in Merida— Celebrations in the Yucatan

 

Carnaval in Mérida, a week of wanton revelry leading up to the restrain-filled observance of Lent, is one of the biggest occasions of the year for the city and considered one of the best carnaval festivals in the world. Here at Hacienda Petac we have a somewhat calmer celebration, one filled with good food and plenty of poolside relaxation, but in nearby Mérida the festivities are some of the best in Latin America.

 

Although usually with a slightly different theme, Carnaval in Mérida always maintains ties to the country’s Mayan roots as the parades and events throughout the week blend fantasy and reality. Allegorical parade floats, mystical creature costumes and reenactments of Mayan folklore characterize the week of Yucatecan bacchanalia.

 

Carnaval celebrations began in the 16th century when the Spanish governor began hosting balls, feasts and costume parties for Mérida’s wealthier citizens, the population known as the “Casta Divina,” or the Divine Caste. Since then Carnaval has evolved into a much more egalitarian affair and is now celebrated publicly in the city’s tree-lined central plaza. Festivities commence with the Burning of the Bad Humors (Quemando de Mal Humor) a firework filled ritual in which evil spirits are chased and burned as a means to purge the city and make way for the week’s revelry. The next day features the Parade of the Children, a procession of floats filled with enthusiastic kids in colorful costumes representing Mayan mystical spirits. The coroneted Carnaval king and queen follow behind, dressed in full traditional costume.

 

Each day thereafter is defined by raucous parades and performances that bleed into evening concerts and outdoor parties that last until dawn.  Coordinated by the Carnaval Committee, hundreds of artists from all over the world fly in for curated exhibitions while musicians, dancers and models offer glamour to each day of parades. The streets of Mérida are replete with partiers on bleachers, kids on parents’ shoulders, food vendors on curbs and local TV and radio personalities on stages set up to comment on it all.

 

By the end of the weekend, the city’s party stamina begins to wane, allowing for the Regional Parade – the most traditionally Mayan parade of the bunch and characterized by Yucatecan music and horse-drawn carriages – to be much more family-oriented. Although it is truly the best overindulgence of the year, Mérida’s Carnaval is known in particular for being a somewhat respectful celebration that centers more on family. Less emphasis is placed on pre-Lent debauchery here than it is in many other cities.

 

The Carnaval’s finale, one of our favorite parts of the week, is another annual tradition known as The Battle of the Flowers where, instead of throwing beads or candy, crowds throw fresh flowers at each other. Originally a mock battle with flowers for ammunition, it is now an official work holiday and the colorful final hurrah before, with the tongue-in-cheek ceremony of the Burial of Juan Carnaval, events come to a close.

 

It seems that the number of Carnaval attendees grows with each passing year. According to Mayor Renan Barrera, Mérida played host to over one million visitors throughout Carnaval 2013. Discussions have already begun with regards to relocating future celebrations. Officials are looking for a different part of the city until the Paseo de Montejo Avenue – the traditional parade route – can be modernized and expanded to accommodate the ever-growing numbers of celebrators.

 

Until then, though, Mérida returns to its normal, more elegant sensibilities. Here at Hacienda Petac, we’re waking up to calmer mornings and spending lovely evenings in the Chapel. Even we will admit, though, to our lingering curiosity over just what next year’s carnaval might bring.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.merida.gob.mx/Carnaval/

http://www.yucatanliving.com/culture/how-to-enjoy-meridas-carnival.htm

http://www.yucatantoday.com/en/topics/carnaval-merida

 

Photo Credit: Metro Travel http://metrotravel.mx/

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Authentic Yucatan Recipes—Caldo Tlalpeño

Dining at Hacienda Petac

 

A classic spicy and smoky Mexico soup, caldo tlalpeño will keep your insides warm throughout the “El Norte” winds of January and February. Our chicken soup for the Yucatecan soul is an all time favorite here at Hacienda Petac, and tastes best with avocado and cilantro added at the end.

 

Recipe: (for four)

Ingredients:

 

1 Avocado

1 cup of garbanzo beans

3 plum tomatoes

½ white onion

1 tsp. chile chipotle salsa

1 ½ liter fresh chicken stock

½ cooked chicken breast, shredded

Salt to taste

4 sprigs of cilantro

 

Preparation:

Wash the dried garbanzos and soak overnight or boil for at least half an  hour, then let rest for a bit before boiling for at least two hours until beans are soft.

 

Chop the onion finely. Set aside. Scoop out the seeds of the tomatoes and discard. Chop the tomatoes finely. Set aside.

 

When the garbanzos are soft, drain them and then put them into the fresh chicken broth. Add the tomatoes and onion, the chipotle sauce, and salt to taste. The soup should simmer for at least one hour for the flavors to blend.

 

To serve, put a generous lump of shredded chicken into the bottom of a soup bowl, add the soup, and garnish with three or four chunks of avocado and a sprig of cilantro.

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