Yucatán Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

The Hats of Bécal

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The statue of two monumental Panama hats which reigns supreme in the center of Bécal’s main plaza is strange, but leaves little doubt as to the town’s claim to fame. Found about an hour south of Mérida, Bécal is best known for its traditional hats made of jipi.

Hats Becal

We made a day trip to Bécal in order to see how the hats are made. The jipi is a type of palm tree from Guatemala. Here in the Yucatán, the weather is much drier and hotter than in the Guatemalan highlands, leaving the jipi fibers too brittle to weave into hats. To work around this, the artisans of Bécal work their magic in both natural and man-made caves, most often found in their backyards.

It took no time at all for us to find one of these caves. A foreign face in Bécal usually means just one thing, and we quickly had people offering to introduce us to their hat-making friends. Minutes after stepping off the bus, we were crouched inside an artificial cave in some guy’s yard, watching him weave a child-size hat.

The thinner the fiber, the higher quality of the hat, and the best require over two weeks to finish. It was fun to watch his fingers weave strand over strand with incredible speed and dexterity. After he had shown us how it’s done, we followed him into his shop. I’m not the kind of guy who can successfully pull off a Panama hat, and they weren’t all that cheap, but we bought one anyway. We kind of had to.

Location on our Map

Download Our Travel Books Here

Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
Hats Becal
, , , , ,
February 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm Comments (0)

Other Sights in Campeche

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

We had circled the path of the old fortifications which once protected the city, and taken a trip into the jungles of the interior to visit Maya ruins, but it wasn’t until our final hours in Campeche that we spent much time exploring the city itself.

Campeche Church

Comprising a five-by-eight grid of streets, the center of Campeche hasn’t changed much since the fortifications were erected in the early 1700s. We ambled along the roads, climbing up onto the exaggeratedly-elevated sidewalks when a car would pass by, and directed ourselves to a few of the city’s sights.

First up, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which took nearly two centuries to complete. The baroque facade is impressive, but inside it’s much the same as any cathedral. It does, however, have a small museum full of macabre religious relics, the best of which is a black wood and silver coffin holding a Jesus corpse.

Mansión Carvajal

Nearby the cathedral, we stopped in at the Mansión Carvajal. This baroque residence was built by one of the city’s most important businessmen and is today home to government offices. Visitors are free to wander through, although there’s nothing specific to see here, apart from the interesting architecture.

San Jose Church Campeche

Across town, we sought out the Ex-Temple of San Jose, which is most notable for the lighthouse sticking out of its roof, and for the blue and yellow tiles of its exterior. During our visit, this former Jesuit convent was hosting an exhibit of modern art.

On the southern side of the Plaza Grande, visitors can tour the Centro Cultural Casa 6. This colonial-era home doesn’t have the most inspiring name, but it’s filled with authentic period furniture and does a good job of illuminating how the upper crust of the eighteenth century lived.

We only had a brief taste of Campeche, and were left wanting more. Its cobblestone streets, colorful houses and colonial architecture are hard to dislike. To experience the city at the relaxed pace that it seems to encourage, you’d need at least three or four days. Perhaps even 91.

Locations on our Map: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception | Mansión Carvajal | Ex-Temple of San Jose | Centro Cultural Casa 6

List of hotels in Campeche

More photos from the Cathedral
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
Campeche Church
More photos from the Mansión Carvajal
Mansión Carvajal
Mansión Carvajal
Mansión Carvajal
More photos from San Jose
San Jose Church Campeche
San Jose Church Campeche
San Jose Church Campeche
San Jose Church Campeche
More photos from the Centro Cultural Casa 6
, , , , , , ,
January 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm Comments (0)

A Trip to Campeche

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

With a historic center that’s been protected for centuries by an impenetrable set of fortifications, Campeche has a reputation as one of Mexico’s most beautiful cities. We were completely won over by its picturesque charm, during a two-day excursion from Mérida.

Campeche

Campeche was founded in 1540, on the site of a Maya city called Kinpech. Almost right away, the new Spanish settlement drew the attention of pirates who were operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Among the many who sacked Campeche, some big names appear… Henry Morgan, Roche Braziliano, John Hawkins, Francis Drake. Pirate League All-Stars! Their villainy was relentless; as soon as Campeche had recovered from one attack, the next would begin.

Things came to a head between 1663 and 1667, when the city was sacked almost without pause, the people terrorized and butchered by ever more greedy and bloodthirsty pirates. Finally, the Campechanos demanded that their Spanish rulers build a set of walls. Completed in 1702, the fortifications were successful in protecting the city from further assaults, and the real-life Pirates of the Caribbean moved on to easier fare.

Campeche’s historic town center is still defined by its life-saving fortifications. Seven of the eight balustrades remain standing, and a couple sections of the walls can be visited. The city has spread out far beyond its original size, but the fortified area remains the center of life, home to most of the touristic sights, with a charming colonial atmosphere that’s out-of-step with hectic modern Mexico. The cobblestone streets in a checkerboard layout, the thoughtfully-restored Baroque houses, and the walls themselves led UNESCO to declare Campeche a World Heritage Site in 2007.

We were visiting just before the New Year, while the town was still in the throes of its Christmas celebrations. The main plaza was lit up dazzlingly, and the atmosphere was so festive it bordered on insane. Noise and lights are always fun, but in Campeche we most enjoyed the quieter side of things; strolling along gorgeous colonial streets, drinking a beer on a balcony overlooking the plaza, or sitting by the ocean while the sun disappeared behind the Gulf. Simply put, this is a lovely city; the two days we spent here weren’t nearly enough.

Location on our Map

List Of Hotels In Cempeche

Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
Campeche
, , , , , , ,
January 25, 2014 at 12:37 am Comments (4)
The Hats of Bcal The statue of two monumental Panama hats which reigns supreme in the center of Bécal's main plaza is strange, but leaves little doubt as to the town's claim to fame. Found about an hour south of Mérida, Bécal is best known for its traditional hats made of jipi.
For 91 Days