It takes only 40 minutes to get from Mérida to the fishing village of Sisal. Three different roads link Mérida with Hunucmá, and from there one straight road goes directly to Sisal; there is no coastal link with Progreso or Celestún. This fact alone has protected Sisal from the out of control growth that we see on other beaches of the coast. In between Celestún and Sisal is the Natural Reserve of “El Palmar”.
The main difference between Sisal and its more popular neighboring beach towns is the very fact of its isolation. It rarely appears on maps or guidebooks as a destination. Paradoxically it was one of the first and more important ports during the Colonial period. The Empress Carlota stopped there on her visit to Yucatán. It was the port from which all the henequén fiber known as Sisal was exported to the world. Presently the main activity there is fishing, the presence of which is noticeable in the town’s streets where men prepare the boats and nets for next day’s toss.
There is a section of town with weekend houses of people from Mérida who escape from the unbearable heat, and a growing seasonal population of Canadians who migrate to take advantage of our temperate weather. As well, duck hunters visit the lagoon, parallel to the seashore, during the winter season.
The beach is desolate and calm, on holidays it becomes more populated but rarely do you see those motored vehicles that pester other beaches of the peninsula. Breeze is constant, but there are almost no waves to worry about, and the sea goes from a Caribbean turquoise to a darker Gulf of México’s hue.
The seashore in Sisal is one of the last original coastal dunes remaining, with colorful and beautiful perfumed bushes, palm trees and cactae. The flora and fauna of the beach mix with that of the mangrove of the adjacent lagoon.
Sisaleños get around town on bicycles, tricycles and motortaxis, and every other Sunday they have baseball games and the characteristic religious processions on the streets with everybody participating. There are interesting Colonial buildings and monuments: a fortress, a lighthouse, the recently restored Customs Building, and a stone warrior’s sculpture and plaque from the 16th century. At sunset a promenade on the pier with its typical sweetheart’s benches becomes a must.
There are a few inexpensive inns and the “Club de Patos”, originally a duck hunter’s lodge, now transformed into an exclusive boutique hotel with only nine suites (www.clubdepatos.com). There are also several restaurants where one can enjoy succulent Yucatecan cooking and fresh seafood. The place is perfect for a bike ride, beach stroll or fishing, scuba and snorkel expeditions. It is the ideal environment for bird watchers: one can easily observe ducks, cormorants, cranes, gulls, and different wading birds, with the spectacular military formations of the flamingos parading in the sky.
Sisal is a perfect place to get away from the chaotic and suffocating city, surrounded by nature and lulled by the breeze of the sea.
By Cosme Kmechetco
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