Hacienda Sotuta de Peón, a special resort and farm, is 45 minutes away from Mérida by car. This phenomenal place will provide you with an unforgettable trip through time, with amazing and painful stories of history and unbelievably beautiful scenery.
In a historical, geological, and biological context, hacienda land was incredibly rich, with henequén plants that were a significant source of fiber during the Maya civilization about 3000 years ago. The fiber from henequén was shipped all over the world as the major export item from Yucatán.
Approximately 50 families owned 1462 henequén farms, known as haciendas. As the world demand for the material was enormous, hacienda business was incredibly lucrative, and actively run by a few rich Spanish owners. After the heyday of haciendas operating 3000 hectares of fields, and thousands of farmers who were mostly local Maya, Mexican, or Korean slaves, the industry eventually collapsed in 1950 with the emergence of the nylon fiber, petroleum business, and industrialization, and eventually abandoned in 1965. Twenty years later, it began to be restored in one or two haciendas only. Adolfo Lubcke is one of the significant investors who brought the idea of cultural and historical restoration with industrial and methodological adaptation of a hacienda. You can see the result at Hacienda Sotuta de Peón.
Walking through the preserved and rebuilt building and farm land, you will hear historical fairy tales and stories, what haciendas meant to México, to the people, and to their living descendants, by the tour guides who passionately share their knowledge. The delicately designed original European style of house, tiles, and chandelier represent the wealth of the ‘green gold’ era. Touching the henequén plants, freshly scraped fibers, and even the hands of the working farmers take you to a different level of the journey.
Harvesting and farming henequén plants in 40 C weather was absolutely harsh. Harvesting, scraping, drying, combing, and intertwining them was all done by hand. Currently, there are 140 local workers who still produce small amounts of the fiber and sell it to different parts of México. The raw material fiber is used for secondary production of hammocks, bags, hand fans, shoes, and more, much like the Maya people did. The amazingly and sophisticatedly made henequén hammock is something that you can only find in Yucatán. This hammock will complete the best siesta!
Once the first session of the tour finishes, the mule carriage will take you further into the Maya world, with the Maya house, Maya farmer Don Antonio Ucan who actually worked at this hacienda back in the time, and speechlessly fantastic cave and cenote. The reflection onto the cenote water from the sunlight coming through the hole above makes the entire cave another universe. In the middle of the farm, you definitely get a chance to observe landscape and scenes around you of horses feeding on the grass, henequén plants, beautiful blue sky, and to smell the fertile land and orange blossoms, and to ponder the history while sipping on the house Sisal Margarita.
Lastly, the tour pleases your sense of taste with the best Maya lunch. There are four course options; my recommendation would be Cochinita Pibil (pork) with Sopa de Lima (chicken soup) since they are very popular Yucatecan dishes. Sikil Pak, the authentic and fresh dipping sauce for tortilla chips, made from squash seeds, tomatoes, and spices, will keep you munching addictively. Also, the house coconut cream pudding dessert is a must that will end your meal extraordinarily pleasantly.
Exploration of Hacienda Sotuta de Peón will enrich your trip to Yucatán and Mérida because it delivers visible and intangible values and stories through real people, descendants and locals. Thousands of years of stories, nature, food, and people are still there to welcome you to the one-of-a-kind journey. The few hours of this worthwhile tour will linger in your mind for a long time.
Contributed by traveler AJ Kim
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