But here down below
close to the roots
is where memory
and there are people living
and dying doing their utmost
and so between them they achieve
what was believed impossible
to make the whole world know
that the South also exists.
—Mario Benedetti, “The South Also Exists.”
In the poem “The South Also Exists,” Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti speaks of a south that can be found anywhere in the world. It’s also the perfect way to start this article, which focuses on a wonderful place, full of traditions and people of all ages. They, kind and warm entrepreneurs, seek to bring visibility to the south of the city of Mérida, and invite us all to visit.
Mérida is changing day by day, by leaps and bounds, and there is no pandemic that can stop it. The synergy to offer better-quality services included a great explosion of growth in the northern part of the city. That’s where we’ve seen new shopping malls, first-class services of all kinds, world-class trendsetting spaces, and a huge real estate boom, with supply and demand for all tastes.
If you thought that things were happening only in the north of the capital, prepare to be surprised. Close to the wonderful Mérida Centro, you’ll find invaluable warmth and friendliness. It’s a peaceful environment, with unchanged customs and traditions, architecture that goes back in time, and a wave of entrepreneurs who seek to diversify their products and services to offer nothing but the best. Let’s take a trip to the south of Mérida; let’s listen to it and feel its beating heart.
Discover the old Royal Road to Campeche, which begins at the Arco de San Juan (Calle 64 x 69) and leads to La Ermita. There, you’ll be greeted by shades of yellow and a beautiful kiosk in a park next to the chapel devoted to Saint Elizabeth. Old houses surround the place, and just across, there’s a cafeteria, a hostel, and restaurants that offer first-class services. This southern Barrio (neighborhood) is known for its delicious panuchos, a Yucatecan specialty consisting of a fried tortilla stuffed with beans topped with different delicacies.
Barrio de San Sebastián (Calle 70 x 75)
This is one of the oldest and most traditional Barrios in Mérida. It’s home to a church that’s a site of pilgrimage every August; devoted to Our Lady of the Assumption, it happens to be one of the most beautiful in Mérida. The houses in this neighborhood will fill your eyes with contrasting colors. San Sebastián is a must, as it’s also the house of the Pib Festival, a Yucatecan dish cooked for the Day of the Dead.
Fraccionamiento Los Cocos (Calle 60 x 95)
Where there used to be a traditional Yucatecan hacienda you’ll now find a gas station, but don’t let that keep you away. Around it you’ll see one-story houses with colorful fronts, little shops with everything you need, and warm people who will welcome you with open arms. On Calle 62 x 91, you’ll find the monument to Pedro Infante, a Mexican singer and actor recognized worldwide as a symbol for this country and its passion. Next to the monument, there is a museum in his honor. Los Cocos is diversifying with entrepreneurs, who are bringing about new, world-class services, from creperies to beauty parlors, such as JC Luxury Salon. The area continues to grow and new projects are on the horizon; all are led by charming people eager to offer the best of the south as part of a more diverse Mérida and Yucatán.
This is the site of the Chicharra Festival, a food that brings joy to locals’ and visitors’ tastebuds alike. Carnitas, stuffed pork belly, and blood sausage, among other parts of the pig, are cooked in different ways and for all tastes. In Xcalachén, besides colorful one-story houses and the friendliness of the people, you’ll find several murals painted by local artists.
Cuxtal Ecological Reserve (Calle 145 x 50 y 52)
If you are looking for living nature, in the south of Mérida you will find this 10,757-hectare reserve, which is a “green lung” for the Yucatecan capital. It comprises two commissariats, seven villages, seven haciendas, and most importantly, it provides Mérida with 50% of its drinking water. In Cuxtal you can hike, visit a cenote, and, above all, experience nature to the fullest.
Editorial by Cecilia García Olivieri
Writer and reporter
Photography by Cecilia García Olivieri for use in Yucatán Today.
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