My idea of a perfect plan is one with plenty of room for spontaneity. It’s rare and requires that all parties have time to improvise, but the result is usually rewarding. I have one person in my life with whom “going out” is synonymous with “let’s give the plan a twist,” and that’s exactly what happened on my second trip to Maní in a month. What started as a brief drive one morning…ended up being a full-day getaway! No regrets.
The first change to our route happened before we even arrived in Maní. On the road, while exploring Google Maps, Ticul and Oxkutzcab appeared nearby. Both are less than 30 minutes from Maní. We decided we would visit Ticul for one simple reason: we are shoe fanatics and Ticul is the footwear capital of Yucatán. Oxkutzcab joined the list later.
Maní welcomed us from the highway, overflowing with leafy Flamboyán trees, a sunny day, and a cool breeze. This town has enough going on to keep you entertained all day long. You’ll find guided tours through apiaries, workshops run by experienced embroiderers and artisans, cafés that surround the former convent, and a culinary offering that will have you rolling all the way back to Mérida. If you are interested in learning about the history of Yucatán, Maní is a must. It was part of the Cacicazgo led by the Tutul Xiú dynasty and was a ceremonial center during pre-Columbian times; later, it also became one of the main sites of Catholic evangelization. You may have heard about the Auto de Fe, which took place in Maní in 1562 and for which the town is still known today.
Back to our trip, which was not focused on learning opportunities. We pulled up at what we thought would be our only stop. U Najil Chuy, also known as the Jiménez family workshop. It’s located right next to the former Convento de San Miguel Arcángel. Inside you’ll find impressive embroidered garments. We were looking for a specific wedding Terno (which is the traditional Yucatán dress, reserved for special occasions) but left with directions to find a bank and jewelry stand in Oxkutzcab.
Important…there are no banks or ATMs in Maní (although many establishments have portable payment terminals), the closest ones are located in Oxkutzcab. If you’re planning to visit the area, bring cash (coins and bills of multiple denominations). Don’t mind a walk around Oxkutzcab? Then follow in our footsteps.
Oxkutzcab is known as “the orchard of Yucatán.” Here you will find a great variety of state-grown produce, especially citrus fruits! There are other fruits and a good variety of vegetables, but their citrus, my friends, are unmatched. Buy a few bags at the market. Thirsty? Ask for the man selling Aguas Frescas or Refresco Natural, he has a great variety and the liter is around $35 pesos. Try the Pitahaya (dragon fruit), orange, and barley. Next to the Refrescos you’ll find the jewelry stand recommended by the Jiménez ladies, which sells perfect pieces to wear with your Hipiles and Ternos.
Once we were back in Maní, and after finishing our errands, we decided to try the delicious – and famous – Poc Chuc at the Principe de Tutul Xiu restaurant. We were too full to order dessert, but do it if you can, they’re delicious! Be careful, because you’ll definitely start feeling sleepy with such a full stomach, and will want nothing more than to lie down and take a nap. In our case, we drove for a while to Ticul and rested under the trees in the main square.
After a rest, we ventured through the streets of Ticul. As I mentioned before, it’s considered the shoe capital of Yucatán for its many stores and factories. Be warned, most pairs cost around $200 pesos, so they’re hard to resist. You can organize a very easy tour by hiring a Tricitaxi (they’re everywhere in town) that will take you to the shoe factories and stores that best suit what you are looking for.
Once we spent our improvised budget and could no longer feel our legs, we decided to end our adventure through Yucatán, but not before detouring three more times on our drive back to Mérida. Here’s to adventure and spontaneity!
Editorial by Olivia Camarena
Yucatecan communicologist. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Photography by Olivia Camarena for its use in Yucatán Today.
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