We landed from Mexico City (you can read all about that here) to a bright, ice-cream coloured, colonial town.
Music was playing all over the place and horses were pulling tourists around in beautifully decorated carts.
I was surprised how clean and orderly it was- and how friendly everyone was towards us. Someone told us that if we were American they wouldn't like us so much... Trump's talk of the 'wall' has obviously done a lot of damage.
We booked a tour with our hotel (see details below.) We had a Mayan guide who took us to ruins of Uxmal which was a huge pyramid in the jungle, inhabited by iguanas and parrots.
Kabah was a small ancient city which was interesting... but the heat got the better of us. So we went on to a hidden cenote. Emilio spoke authoritatively about the ancient customs and rituals which made it come to life- and he tried to teach us some Mayan along the way. We loved it, but most of all we loved the cenotes, so I wrote a specific blog about it here.
Back in Merida, we spent ages wandering around (OK, we were actually trying to find children's flip-flops... we got there in the end.) Meanwhile, we were taking in the beautiful ornate architecture. One Friday evening we stumbled upon live music and traditional dancing (see film below). Music seemed to spring up everywhere, and the whole town turned out on Sunday evenings to dance to live salsa music.
An older couple found Mike and I so inept and hilarious they separated us to try to give us dance lessons. I think we were a lost cause, but we almost wet ourselves laughing- so all was not lost.
Merida is only an hour away form the coast, so on one, steaming day we caught the bus to Progresso for £1 each. The bus station on Calle 62 was only 2 blocks from our hotel and easy to find with a bit of help from the locals.
The bus, was clean and air conditioned (which was needed on this heat and humidity) and it burst into song as we got stuck in traffic. Rightly so- why wait in silence when you can crack our your drums and guitar and cheer everyone up? Music is everywhere.
The beach was lovely, though full of stalls selling souvenirs and the water was not the turquoise you would expect from the Caribbean sea. Even so on a hot day like this, we would take the slightly industrial backdrop and eat the most fresh and zingiest (yes it's a word) ceviche I have ever had, whilst sipping margaritas. HEAVEN.
Eating and drinking our fill, we crawled back to the bus dept, a ten minute walk away and got ourselves back to Merida town drenched in sweat but satisfied. It was so hot and 98% humidity..
Our last day was spent trying to kill time before we made our way to Valladolid. We found a museum and a gallery of contemporary art which were really interesting- and free!
We set off to Valladolid the next day and ended up getting a taxi for the same price as the bus. In two hours we would be there- the beauty of the Yucatan was that everything was pretty close.
Where we stayed:
Hotel Reforma: a beautiful, colonial but also budget hotel which was £26.00per night for a family room including continental breakfast. Great location and a pool. Make sure you ask for a room with a balcony as the first, ground floor room was not half as nice and had no window.
What we did:
1 day tour to include Uxmal, Kabah and Yax-Ha. £70 for a family of 4. Booked through the hotel.
Uxmal entrance fee: £4.50 per person
Kabah entrance fee: £2.00 per person
Yax-Ha cent, £1.00 per adult. (bargain!)
Museo Casa Montejo: Free if you hand over proof of identity
Museo Arte Contemporaneo: Free with proof of identity.
Live music and dancing: ask a local when it is happening.
Dangers and annoyances?
The Yucatan Peninsula is safe, but Merida particularly is very safe indeed. Something about cartels leaving it alone. The only annoyances were touts trying to sell tours on the street. And not having enough space in my backpack to BUY ALL THE DRESSES.