For breakfast, we dined on pancakes and waffles, whipped up by the staff, and other goodies of our choice for breakfast; Champagne, orange juice and coffee quenched our thirst. It's already a sweltering hot day and the mosquitoes are trying to dine on Hannah for breakfast.
Some free time and then our open-air bus collected us for our tour of the city of Merida. Our guide was very knowledgeable and did a great job educating us on the region. He told us the name Yucatan, a Mayan word, really came about when the Spaniards came to the area and asked the Mayans the name of the place. The Mayans couldn' speak Spanish and asked 'what are you saying'? This phrase sounded like "yucatan" to the Spaniards.....hence the name of the state.
Merida, the capital, is a diversified city with a population of almost a million people and was once named T'ho. At the turn of the 20th century, thanks to profits from henequen, the city had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in Mexico. Our guide told us the city was sometimes referred to as La Ciudad Blanca or White City.
Pedro, our guide, toured us through the Zocalo. Shaded with laurel trees, it was bustling with activity....lots of people browsing and purchasing native goods from many vendor stalls. Our favorite again was the Catedral de San Ildefonso, a massive and starkly elegant structure, built in the late 1500's with stones from a destroyed Mayan temple.
The Casa de Montejo was built in the 1500's by Francisco de Montejo, the conqueror of Merida. Several generations of the family lived there until the 1900's. The facade depicts conquistadores and each window of the house bears a coat of arms of a branch of the Montejo family.
Dominating another side of the plaza was the Municipal Palace, a gorgeous double-arched building with a tower which houses the municipal clock. Lastly, on the fourth side of the square stood the Palacio de Gobierno housing the state government offices.
A wide boulevard named Paseo de Montejo is the locale for the chic and palatial mansions built by the wealthy tycoons. Our guide pointed out several including the Palacio Canton, which houses the Antropology and History Museum.
An example of Mayan-inspired modern art was the Monumento a la Patria, a beautiful structure with many intricate carvings and topped by a pole flying the Mexican flag.
We passed several parks including Parque Santa Lucia; this is where travelers would alight from the stagecoaches arriving from the surrounding towns and cities.
We had our dinner at La Padrilla and the food was good. One of our couples were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and Phil ordered Mexican coffee. The preparation of this brew is quite dramatic. It involves lots of strong coffee, lots of different liquers, and lots of flame. It was a wonderful day and we returned to the park to get some rest.