Tags: Mexico, Mérida, Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo, Yucatan

Date: May 31, 2024

Amanda was hauled out in San Carlos, Sonora, and put away for storage over the summer. Once that was done we flew out of the nearby airport in Hermosillo to Cancun in Quintana Roo. Here we rented a car with a view to driving it back to San Carlos with some of Bjarne's dive gear, which has been in Playa del Carmen for several years now. This gave us the chance to visit friends in the area and we stayed a couple of nights in Puerto Aventuras, where we lived for many months during the period 2018 to 2021.

Here is Bjarne in front of our rental car outside our hotel in Puerto Aventuras:

The trip from Puerto Aventuras to San Carlos is about 4,400 km, but we started out gently with a short trip to Mérida in the neighboring state of Yucatan. As we embarked on this trip in the middle of a heatwave affecting most of Mexico we went from around 34 degrees Celcius in the coastal state of Quintana Roo to 40 degrees Celcius in inland Yucatan.

We wanted to see some of Mérida and we only had one afternoon to do it, so out we went into the heat. Here, we are looking at a small part of the municipal market in the center of Mérida:

The central plaza, Plaza Grande, is in undergoing a large renovation and eventually the plaza and the surrounding streets will all look like this:

But right now, most of it looks like this:

Mérida cathedral is the second oldest in the Americas, built between 1561 and 1598 — only preceded by the cathedral of Santo Domingo completed in 1550. As was often the custom, the Spanish built Mérida cathedral on top of Mayan ruins and used stones from the Mayan buildings to build the church.

In addition to the cathedral, the Plaza Grande is home to the municipal palace where the city council is seated and the mayor has his office. The interior courtyard is open to the public and is decorated with large paintings depicting the history of Mexico:

The paintings are all by the Mérida-born Mexican artist Fernando Castro Pacheco (1918-2013) and were painted between 1971 and 1977.

This painting in the staircase illustrates a legend from the Mayan creation story, Popol Vuh, showing how man was created from maize:

In addition to the paintings in the arched courtyard and the staircase, this large room was also covered in paintings by Fernando Castro Pacheco:

This painting symbolizes the exploitation of the local Mayans in the hennequen or sisal industry which built a large part of the wealth of Mérida:

This painting shows the hero Manuel Cepeda Peraza (the right-most portrait), who led the army in the liberation of Mérida from imperialist troops in 1867:

In 1861 French troops landed in Mexico as part of a plan to revive the monarchy in Mexico after the independence. The plan was hatched by conservative Mexican politicians and they managed to get the attention of French Emperor Napoleon III. He came to support the idea because it would re-establish a French imperial presence in the Americas if he could provide Mexico with an French-leaning emperor. In addition, the Mexican President Benito Juárez had declared a two-year moratorium on repayment of Mexican debt to France and other nations, giving even more of an incentive to Napoleon III to invade Mexico.

Mexico City was taken in June 1863 by the French army and its Mexican monarchist allies and a year later Austrian Archduke Maximilian, of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, who had ancestral links to rulers of colonial Mexico, was crowned in the Cathedral on Mexico City. However, not all of Mexico was under control of the new Emperor (or France) and in 1865, when the United States were no longer distracted by their civil war, the US started taking an interest in the French intervention in Mexico. A combination of US diplomatic pressure on France to leave Mexico and increasing resistance from republican guerilla forces eventually led to the withdrawal of the French forces in 1867. It did not end well for Emperor Maximilian, as he was captured and executed in the city of Querétaro in June 1867.

Close to the Plaza Grande we found this small plaza with a beautiful Art Deco glass mosaic canopy over the entry door:

This church on the north side of the small plaza is the Iglesia de Jesus:

Another Art Deco glass canopy:

On yet another plaza we took a couple of pictures of Bjarne before entering a bar to get a break from the 40 degrees Celsius outside and drink a cold glass of lemonade!