Cultural Treasures are Found Beyond Mexico’s Beaches

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, February 24, 2012

Just a half-day drive from Cancún, Mérida is a vibrant city of nearly 1 million that is the political and cultural capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. One of the safest cities in Mexico, it’s also an ideal home base for some great day trips.

But before venturing out of town, attention must be paid to Mérida itself. History here truly runs deep: Mérida’s striking pastel mansions are built on the ruins of a Maya city. Its central zócalo, or main square, recalls southern Europe – and makes for great people watching.

Maya Traditions Alive in Merida

from the San Francisco Chronicle, February 29, 2012

When I made my first trip on assignment to Mérida, the long-overlooked capital of Yucatán state, in 2001, I checked into the Hotel Casa del Balam, a onetime colonial mansion two blocks from the city’s central plaza. I opened the double windows over the courtyard and the heavy wooden doors to the street, and a heavenly breeze swirled lazily through the room.

Catering to Canadians — Hotel Yakunah popular with retirees in Progreso

from the Ottawa Citizen, February 25, 2012

It was the regular Wednesday afternoon jam session in Yakunah Hotel’s crowded garden restaurant, mere steps from a Yucatan beach along the Gulf of Mexico.

A pickup band of Canadian and American expats was playing bluesy tunes while Mexican waiters were flying in a dozen directions serving about 70 customers with trays of fish and chips and cool bottles of Corona beer. Chances were that, except for the waiters and the Dutch hotel owner, most everyone in Yakunah’s restaurant, Chez Michelle, was collecting Canada’s old age pension.