<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Tomar el Fresco: Porch Sitting, Yucatecan Style</span>

Tomar el Fresco: Porch Sitting, Yucatecan Style

20 may 2024
3 min. de lectura

Tomar el Fresco: Porch Sitting, Yucatecan Style, Let's “Take the Fresh”, What does tomar el fresco means?

If you’ve ever walked the streets of any Yucatecan city or village, you’ve probably noticed people, whether alone, in couples, or entire families, sitting on chairs on the sidewalks to quietly enjoy the cool breeze that brightens the warm afternoons and nights. Today we’ll tell you about the art of “tomar el fresco” (take in the “freshness”), the name Yucatecos give to porch sitting. 


Some customs are here to stay; “taking in the ‘freshness’” by bringing out a chair to the front sidewalk of your home is one of them. In Mérida’s older neighborhoods, but also everywhere across the state, you’re still bound to see Yucatecos comfortably seated (on all manners of chairs, benches, and stools, in varied styles, shapes, and materials) at their doorstep, chatting and enjoying the evening. 


Little is known about the origin of this practice, although it is believed to have come from Europe. In some towns in Spain, it is customary to place chairs on the terrace and in the gardens of houses in the summer as a way to mitigate the heat. In Yucatán, the warm climate that prevails throughout the year favors this custom that has been maintained for decades.



You may wonder what it is exactly that one does, sitting outside your house. “Taking in the ‘freshness’” offers several advantages. First, cooling off with the evening breeze; it may be soft, but it’s definitely better than the temperature inside many homes. Not every family has air conditioning (or is willing to have it on 24/7), so this tradition is also a viable way to stay cool. 


It also gives you the chance to chat about any and all topics. Yes, before people were addicted to their phones and streaming services, families used the evenings at the end of the day as a space to interact with one another and share the day’s stories. While the hustle and bustle of our current reality often threatens these family and neighborly interactions, it’s always a good idea to take every opportunity to maintain family contact and integration. 


It’s also a great way to meet, socialize, and interact with your neighbors, and, of course, discuss the day’s hottest topics, whatever’s going on in the neighborhood, or exchanging perspectives, life philosophies, popular wisdom, or just blowing off steam, which is often sorely needed. 


Other additional benefits of interactions like these include reducing anxiety or depression. As the saying goes, shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased. Human beings, social animals that we are, can always benefit from getting a better knowledge of those around us, and even ourselves, in the process. 


Are you ready to take in the “freshness” yourself? Let’s hope so, because it’s very easy to do, regardless of circumstance. The instructions to “tomar el fresco” are quite simple: just prepare your favorite chair, bring it out to the sidewalk outside your house, and get ready to greet passersby, hopefully strike a conversation, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. 


Photography by Laura Pasos and Enrique Osorio, for its use in Yucatán Today.

Violeta H. Cantarell

Author: Violeta H. Cantarell

“Meridana,” traveler, animal lover, passionate reader, commentator, and enthusiastic promoter of the natural and human beauty of Yucatán.

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