Itching to show your kids a bit of the world? If I told you I’d done just that recently would you be shocked and remind me that there’s a pandemic and it’s a bad idea to fly internationally? It’s a fair point.
What about if I told you that you could also see the world without even leaving Mérida? Yes, really, I can get you to three continents without even crossing the Periférico. Ok. Maybe that’s not quite true but let’s suspend all disbelief for a moment or two and see what happens.
First Stop: Asia
Head to the airport but leave your passport behind because our destination, Parque Japonés, is merely close to the airport (unlike Japan, of course).
Parque Japonés is a fairly typical Mexican park in many ways: it has a well maintained playground, a basketball court, and space to run. It’s also home to Torii gates (you know, the ones you’d normally spot at the entrance to a Japanese Shinto shrine marking the transition from mundane to sacred) and bamboo grows around the park. Sorry, no pandas though. There is also a small Japanese garden with little bridges over streams and a cute waterfall. Sadly, since the 2020 floods, this area is underwater but we remain hopeful that one day the bridges and islands will re emerge and once again the kids will be able to run around this area.
Wild fact: Torii gates are red because red is the color of vitality in Japan. Red is also said to protect from evil. There are over 32,000 Torii gates in Japan.
My kids actually love this place for its skate park and smaller kids will just adore the paths made up to look like roads for them to zoom around on.
Pick up some sushi to eat in the park. Miyabi Express (Montealbán) offers take away options, or grab snacks from Asian Mart to introduce the kids to Japanese food. My kids adore the seaweed snack packs – yeah, I have them begging for pieces of seaweed, I know, you hate me.
Where: Calle #116-B, Jardines de Nueva Mulsay III
Second Stop: Europe
Ok, ok, I’m pushing it here, I know. Parque de la Alemán isn’t named for Germany but for Miguel Alemán, the same former Mexican President after whom the Colonia is named. This park has a lovely, gentle feel to it and is popular both with little kids who love the space and, in normal times, the fun fair and evening activities; and with older kids and teens who love the skate park here.
Wild fact: the mechanical rides of Atracciones Cáceres, the permanent fair in the park, are over 50 years old. They’re an important piece of Mérida’s history. PS, my husband is also over 50. He’s also a part of history. Now that’s funny.
Why not grab some German food from either La Bierhaus (Colonia México) or Meyer’s German store (Colonia Itzimná) to really make it a German experience?
Where: Calle 21, Col. Miguel Alemán
Third Stop: South America (Central and North America Also Included Here)
Yup. Parque Las Américas. Four blocks worth of park in the delightful García Ginerés neighborhood, each block with its own attraction. The park was constructed in the 1940s and remains one of the most popular spots in Mérida for families.
The kids will probably want you to take them straight over to the playground section but hold them tight for a second and check out the other three blocks. One block is home to an enormous fountain (into which, many years ago my then two-year-old escaped, sat down in the middle and laughed at her parents trying desperately to get her out); another block is home to an elaborately decorated amphitheater, and another houses a library and contemplation area.
For the sake of this article, though, we’re going to focus on the columns you’ll find throughout the park. Each column is decorated and dedicated to a different country on the American continents. My kids love to run around and figure out which column “belongs” to which country. We have found columns for South and Central American countries (and México!), and outside the library we also found the US and Canadian coats-of-arms.
Wild fact: the park was designed as an homage to the unity between the countries of the Americas. We could do with more messages of peace and cooperation in the world.
If you’re there around twilight you’ll find street-food stalls setting up, so while you’re visiting the Americas you can try some traditional Yucatecan snacks such as a Marquesita or Esquite.
Where: Calle 22 – 18, Col. García Ginerés
What do you think? Will you kids fall for it or would they be bitterly disappointed that you (don’t blame me, please) told them they were going traveling and then you just went to the park?
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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