by Beryl Gorbman
If you drive less than twenty miles beyond the periferico, the highway that encircles Merida, there is a lot to see. If you turn down roads with signs to haciendas you haven’t heard of, or just towns with interesting names, you can almost always have an entertaining adventure that puts you in touch with this wonderful place where we live.
This day, we took the Motul road off of the Periferico.
ChiChi Suarez Hacienda
We drove briefly through this beautifully restored place as we’d been there before. It can be rented for events.
Today Mary and I started by impulsively turning off the highway to look at one of the new housing developments, with rows and rows of little houses that all look the same. We happened on a development called Los Heroes, somewhere between Merida and ChiChi Suarez (don’t you love that name?) and drove around for a while.
There are three models of homes – all painted orange and white. These are not cheap houses. The most expensive model, which costs around $48,000 USD is two stories. Two bathrooms, kitchen, dining area, living room and three bedrooms. You can do what you will with your lot (10 meters across the front) – build a garage, playground, plant a garden, etc.
The other two models are one story. One is slightly larger, for about $36,000 USD and the other is about $28,000. Mortgages are available through Bancomer and other major banks.
Senora Alba Goni Labastida showed us the models. She speaks excellent English, is charming, and well versed. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Actually, the houses were adorable. The rooms were decent sizes and the architecture was clever and efficient. One of the smaller homes had an open architecture that I found classy and livable. They have cool features like small skylights in most of the rooms. All of the houses are bright and airy and easy to air condition.
These places are a real options for foreigners who want to buy reasonably priced homes here. True, you would not be among other foreigners, but rather Mexican families. You would be pretty far from downtown, from the library, and probably many of your friends. But that might be nice.
Inside of model houses
Right now, Los Heroes has 1,000 homes nearly done. In 12 years, they will have 4,000. In the center of the development there’s a park with an archaeological ruin in it. It will have new schools, markets and other services nearby.
Los Heroes is part of a company called Grupo Sadasi. They have several other developments and more planned. One is Almendros in Caucel, and the other is Las Americas, at the southern end of the Progreso Road.
If you figure that Los Heroes will probably house about 20,000 people, that there are three other such developments owned by the same company, and that there are a number of such companies and new developments being charted each day on the perimeters of town, you can extrapolate that Merida is going to grow exponentially in the next ten years.
The Horses of Yaxkukul
If you follow the signs off the highway to a place called Yaxkukul, you will soon come to the amazing horse ranch and club called called Los Charros de los Conejos. This is an old hacienda transformed into a home for 100 hard-working, magnificent horses that compete in shows and events, probably all over Mexico.
Today, when we were there, workmen were completing construction on a beautifully designed show arena. Signs indicated that they had recently had an event there, but we don’t know whether it was open to the public.
There are rows of clean, open-to-the-air corrals in several parts of the hacienda.
The horses of Yaxkukul will appear at a charro event later this month close to Merida.
We got out of the car and collected unique seed pods and fed greenery to some of the horses. The personnel tolerated us nicely.
Next, we drove into Motul, and were delighted to find that the Felipe Carillo Puerto Museum was open. The admission is free, and the woman who runs the place knows her history. The building that houses the museum, is the house where Carillo Puerto was born and raised.
This is the museum.
Below is a pic of FCP and five of his 12 siblings. All but one sibling was heavily involved in social reform.
Felipe Carillo Puerto was a socialist who ardently supported land reform, rights of the Maya people, and equality for women. Needless to say, he was unpopular in many quarters, and was killed by right-wing conservatives along with three of his brothers and a group of friends. They were marched to the Merida cemetery and slaughtered and today there is a memorial structure to commemorate them.
We saw the underwear that Felipe Carillo Puerto wore when he was murdered in Merida in 1924. Also lots of family and historic photos of this short-lived governor of Yucatan. There was even one photo of Alma Reed, the American journalist with whom he had a long-term affair, and who is buried near him in the Merida cemetery. Felipe Carillo Puerto and Alma Reed shared political views.
This is a stone carving of a book that was the first text written in Mayan. It is by Felipe Carillo Puerto. (You can see his signature on the bottom.)
The famous Yucatecan song, “Peregrina” was written as a tribute to Alma Reed. I have never listened to this song without crying.
We also drove out to the Cenote Sambula at the edgo of town. It’s a public pool, more or less, admission five pesos. None of the stalagtites or other formations have been preserved, but the water is nice and cool.
Thai Cuisine in Baca
After all this traipsing around in the heat, we headed for Baca, where the Bienestar healing center has a Thai restaurant better than most I have been to anywhere. We started with their ice cold sweetened green tea, then had divine food. No one is allowed to take photos at this peaceful place. Or talk loudly. Or use cell phones. Or wander around the healing center parts of the property.
But as you come into the parking lot, you can see the large Thai buddha, gleaming with gold, on the other side of the expansive lawn. He is sitting on a platform peacefully, under a large tree, just as he should be.
On the way out, Mary saw three little goats in an enclosed area, so we stopped to give them a few crackers. Before we knew it, goats charged in from all directions and there were about 30 of them, all making that bizarre vocalization that sounds like an unhinged human.