January 19, 2015
For 91 Days, we lived in the Yucatán. Although we were based in the capital, Mérida, we visited the entire peninsula, from Cancún to Cozumel, Valladolid to Campeche. Whether you’re planning your own journey to the Yucatán, or are just interested in seeing what makes it such a special place, our articles and photographs might help you out. Start at the beginning of our adventures, visit our comprehensive index to find something specific, or choose one of the articles selected at random, below:
We spent three months in the Yucatán peninsula, visiting ancient Maya ruins, taking trips to the beach, learning the art of scuba, swimming in cenotes, eating incredible cuisine, and meeting some of the friendliest people we've ever encountered. Let's just say, it wasn't among our "most challenging" 91-day excursions. But it was definitely among our favorite.
The Spaniards may have conquered the Yucatán with relative ease, but destroying the spirit of the Maya proved a far more difficult task. From the very beginning of the conquest and up into the twentieth century, the Maya fought back against their oppressors, bending but never breaking. The stories of their struggle are told in the Museo de las Guerra Casta, in the village of Tihosuco.
Down the road from the Grutas de Lóltun is the archaeological zone of Labná, the first of five ancient Maya sites we'd be visiting on our trip through the Puuc Valley. Nearby we'd find Xlapak, a much smaller site whose name means "Old Walls".
The beaches are unforgettable, but there's a side to Tulum which has nothing to do with sand or turquoise blue waters. And that would be the actual town, where most of the locals live and work. It's not quite as picturesque, but don't let that keep you away... we enjoyed the pueblo almost as much as the coast.
One of the most important cities in the Yucatán long before the arrival of the Spanish, Izamal is still among its most beautiful. Called the Yellow City for the monochrome color scheme of its buildings, the City of Hills for the ancient pyramids which give shape to the land around it, and the City of Three Cultures for its harmonic balance of pre-Colombian, colonial and modern influence, Izamal ranks as perhaps the essential day trip from Mérida.
The Calle de los Frailes, or the Street of the Friars, cuts diagonally across Valladolid, completely ignoring the otherwise strict grid-plan. A little fresh, but we'll allow it. This is one of the Valladolid's most historic streets, home to specialty shops and popular restaurants, and it ends at the steps of the San Bernadino Convent.
Talking to expats and reading online accounts had led us to believe that Progreso was a humdrum place, and when we finally visited, it was more out of a vague sense of duty than any personal desire. But while we had braced ourselves for boredom, what we discovered was a friendly, likable and unpretentious beach town. Chalk it up to the miracle of low expectations, if you wish, but we loved Progreso.