So I have to admit it has taken me a while to write this post in part because I know I will be back and because there is so much to say about one of my favorite parts of Mexico.. I will try to keep it short and sweet.
The purpose of this trip was to visit my production partners that are creating the beautiful pieces for INTIMALENA in Yucatan.
Here goes my high, my low, where to stay, what to eat and do...
Merida is by far the place I have visited the most in Mexico. I have been traveling there at least 2 - 3 times years. The reason why I LOVE Merida so much is because it is safe, the people are so kind, the food is great, there is lots to do, the artisan works is beautiful and there is the perfect mix of foreign tourist (very few), Mexican tourist (blend in with locals) and locals for my taste. I have big plans for the future and that includes taking a bunch of you on my trips to Merida... stay tuned.
The high was my trip to Yaxhachén a rural Mayan town about 2 hours from Merida.There I have been collaborating with THEDA a cool edgy clothing label working with La Flor de Margarita, a family cooperative of embroiderers. I met other people also collaborating with this community on our way there which was pretty cool. On our arrival I was super excited to see the work the cooperative had done for my brand and to give out gifts to the kids. I love to buy school supplies and games here in the US and take it to the kids in Mexico. To see their faces and joy when I was giving out the gifts makes all my work worthwhile. We shared a delicious meal with the family and I got my beautifully embroidered items. The drive is far and having items made by the cooperative is challenging but I know that I am making a small contribution to this community.
In Merida I was able to meet with an amazing Fashion Designer who makes my vision and most complicated designs come to life. In Yucatan you can find great work everywhere you go but it's hard to find good quality made with US sizes in mind. So I actually take a bag full of fabrics and school supplies with me to Merida and I have the cutest Mexican Baby Dresses made. I am also working on these beautiful cocktail dresses for women. It is so refreshing seeing your vision and ideas come to life.
So now the low - My partners from Merida told me that the city is growing at unsustainable rate, that many Mexicans from all across the country are moving to Merida fleeing the violence happening elsewhere. They told me the city does not have the infrastructure and capacity for so many newcomers. Right after this conversation my Uber driver confessed to me that he had moved to Merida from neighboring Veracruz because his wife and daughter had been held at gunpoint by men robbing a bank. I love Merida because I feel safe, I love it because it's a cute small city with a big city vibe and lots to offer. But I know that so many other Mexicans are seeking to live in peace, to raise their family without fear. I just hope Merida can accommodate the newcomers in a smart way. I hope Merida continues to be that safe charming city that I love so much...
With that said my favorite place to stay is in the middle of all the hustle and bustle in the City Center. I have stayed in neighboring communities at some very cute AirBnb and big hotels right of the beautiful boulevard Paseo de Montejo but my favorite are these two inexpensive hotels next to the main Cathedral and Plaza. They are perfect walking distance to my favorite shopping areas.
Hotel Caribe - I love to do photo shoots in this hotel. It is very charming. They were doing some work installing an elevator. I was also very happy that this time around I did get a chance to dip in their rooftop pool.
Gran Hotel Merida - I love antiques and classics and this is a definitely a hotel with tons of antiques. It is super affordable and conveniently located.
Where to Eat -
Cafe La Habana - Is my go to place for breakfast one block from the hotels I mentioned. It gets bad reviews for lunch and dinner but it has the best freshly grounded coffee and juices. My favorite breakfast of all time is huevos motuleños.
For Lunch the best spots are small places that offer a full almuerzo that includes a drink. My favorite spots are at the market places like Bazar García Rejón (Try Punto y Coma), Bazar San Juan and Mercado Lucas de Gálvez.
What to do - I love Merida because there is free live cultural events every single day of the week that is not only attended by tourist but lots of the locals take advantage of it as well. Here is a full list of events. My favorite are El Pok Ta Pok, Mayan Ball Game with fire and drums. It takes place in front of the cathedral every Friday or Saturday. I don't get tired of watching this. On Sunday's I get to shop and party at the same time in the main plaza with a traditional Vaqueria and Boda Mestiza. No matter what day of the week you are in Merida there is something going on. Warning in Spring and Summer it gets unbearably hot and humid. My favorite time to go is in late November - the climate is great and they start getting ready for the Christmas Season. Can't wait for my next visit back later this summer.