©1996 by Lynn D. Troldahl Hershberger (Lynn@ColorJoy.com)
On Sunday we left Tizimin with many hugs, gifts and good-byes. We went to Mérida, the largest city in the Yucatán and an important center of commerce. Mérida is known for its "Mérida en domingo," Mérida on Sunday. It is a big cultural event on the city public square. Every town and city in Mexico has a town square, but Mérida's is particularly well used. In most towns the public square is called the zócalo, but in Mérida it is more commonly known as the plaza.
[Photo: The gate to Mérida.]
We were able to see the inside of the Cathedral in Mérida, near the plaza. It is an old colonial building, built with stones taken from Maya temples. Apparently some of the stones still bear traces of Maya carvings, though I didn't notice this at the time. This Cathedral is also important because it has the second-largest crucifix in the world. We peeked in just before a service was to start, so we didn't get a chance to look very carefully, but it was clearly an important building in the city.
During the Mérida en domingo event, there are shows (dancing, acting and singing) on the Plaza, and there are street vendors everywhere. Everywhere there are chances to part with your pesos! It was festive and wonderful. We even saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dancing in the streets, and some very young hula dancers! We also took a risk and tried some street food: plantain sliced thin and fried like potato chips. Plantains look like green bananas but they are not sweet. The fried plantain chips were crunchier though thicker than potato chips, and I found them to be very tasty.
[Photo: Burger King meets Colonial Cathedral in Mérida.]
Mérida en domingo is always festive, but we were fortunate to be there the week of Carnival. There was even more entertainment to choose from on this particular Sunday. From what I could tell, all events were available without an entrance fee, so income would not keep you from enjoying the festivities.
Later in the evening we found one place where there was a dance band and people of all ages were dancing in a roped-off area of the street. We got to dance only one or two dances before the event ended, but it was quite a treat. The cultural groups of the city, at least on that dance floor, were well integrated and all having a marvelous time.
Another thing we did in Mérida was to visit the Government Palace. This building is open to the public and is part of seeing the city of Mérida. It has balconies overlooking the Plaza. We went up there in the afternoon during daylight, and again late in the evening after dark. It is a good place to see the bustle of activity down below, without feeling hurried yourself. I also took several photos from those balconies.
[Photo: View from Government Palace: Horse and Carriage stop for visitor tours.]
However, the most important part of visiting the Government Palace is the artwork that is there, by Fernando Castro Pacheco. Don Fernando (Don loosely translates to "mister" though it is used with a man's first name) is a world-acclaimed Yucatecan artist. His work is truly magnificent. All the works he has done in the Palace are strongly influenced by the history of the Yucatán. He is obviously proud of being a person from this area of rich culture. He depicts people who have been strong in enduring difficulties of all types.
Don Fernando is an uncle of Antonio's, and so we were able to see some other prints of his and a wonderful coffee-table type book of his work while we visited Antonio and Maria's home. In addition to the strongly historical works in the Palace, he does many other styles of paintings, etchings and prints. My favorites are the multi-colored paintings (they look like intense watercolors but are oil paint) of Mestiza women. It is obvious how he respects their feminine strength and their heritage. For some reason, the colors speak volumes. I wish I could show you, but you will have to try to imagine. (I tried to search on the Internet for Pacheco images but was unable to find any.)
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