Phil and I had been talking for several weeks about visiting Merida, a beautiful town founded by the Spanish in the 1500's.
We first planned to take a bus while we were docked at Isla Mujeres. For one reason or another, that didn't happen. Then, we thought about taking a bus from Puerto Morelos. That didn't happen, either.
Finally, when we were "weathered in" at Puerto Aventuras on the way down the Yucatan coast, the time seemed right. As it turned out, the timing was perfect.
I had sent an e-mail to Luz en Yucatan, a small hotel rated #1 on TripAdvisor, but had received no answer. When we got there, we discovered that they had been sold out, but someone had canceled right before we arrived, so they had a room for us. Our first stroke of luck!
|We stayed two nights in this amazing, beautiful town. It was founded by the Spanish in 1542 on the site of a Mayan city. The architecture makes it look like Old Spain, with beautiful churches and government buildings, cobblestone streets, and plazas every few blocks where people gather in the evenings.|
As we checked in, we found out that it was Carnival weekend in Merida, and our hotel was just half a block from the parade route. Our second stroke of luck!
The weekend we visited Merida, the town of a million grew by many thousands as villagers poured in to celebrate Carnival with music, dancing, food and FIVE different parades, one per day.
It's difficult to adequately describe the costumes and the music. Friendly people and food vendors crowded all of the downtown streets.
Carnival Merida 2011 ran from March 2-9, with float parades five straight days beginning on Friday the 4th. Over 2,300 people participated in those parades, not counting thousands of staff and hundreds of police officers who controlled the crowds and kept everything on schedule. More than 30 musical groups performed on different stages all over town.
The parade that we watched on Saturday night lasted at least two hours. I lost count of the floats and groups of dancers in elaborate costumes. They must have come from all over Mexico and perhaps even further.
It was our first road trip of the season and we felt fortunate to have participated in our first Carnival and visited such a beautiful place.