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Yucatan, Mexico for Vacation or Longer

Updated on June 15, 2019
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren has traveled throughout central America and writes from the perspective of an open-minded explorer.

The Yucatan

Need a quick shot to somewhere warm? Desire some new experiences, but want to avoid overcrowded tourist spots? Is economizing important?  Try Mérida in the Yucatan state in Mexico.  It is safe, convenient, fun, and stimulating.

Garden statue at Merida, Mexico English Library
Garden statue at Merida, Mexico English Library | Source


Safe: Yes, safe for an old bat traveling alone.

You heard it. I am an AARP-eligible white gringa. The travel journals, guides, and even the U.S. State Department bulletins* I researched convinced me that my excursion to Mérida, the capitol city of the estado de Yucatan, would be totally peaceful. These authorities did not lie.

Even after I arrived, I checked my ability to roam safely alone and after dark accompanied by a young native woman and an older English-speaking ex-patriot. Ditto, ditto they asserted. There will be no problems. They were correct.

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico:
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

get directions

Merida is the capitol city of the Mexican state of Yucatan.

Ex-Pats from Canada and U.S.

There are many American and Canadian ex-pats living in the greater Merida area - so many that they have established a library of English media and have various social networks in place.

Greenery, lush and wonderful, in Merida, Mexico

Courtyard of Santa Lucia R.C. Church, Merida, Mexico
Courtyard of Santa Lucia R.C. Church, Merida, Mexico | Source


Convenience: Mexico is closer to the United States than is Panama. Since Mérida has an international airport, I was able to fly in directly from Houston. I must admit that I am coming from the east coast of the United States. Perhaps those in the west will suggest a more convenient destination. In any case, the Yucatan is closer than South America.

From the airport (MID), a taxi ride into the center of the city takes about 18 minutes.

Since I am a walker, I enjoyed strolling the downtown cultural district, the adjacent neighborhoods, the markets, the churches. There are plenty of eateries, stores, and money changing establishments.

Open Air Dining

Warm, pleasant evenings in the Yucatan allow open air restaurants to flourish.
Warm, pleasant evenings in the Yucatan allow open air restaurants to flourish. | Source

Eating Fun

I love to eat. So, when I travel, I taste the local cuisine. For those whose stomachs are sensitive, be advised that Yucatecan food is not the spicy fare in Mex-Tex or chain Mexican restaurants north of the border.

I was surprised at how many entrees use pork. Pigs must have been THE animal of the Yucatan jungle, because pork similar to "pulled pork" is the feature of many of the dishes.

One day, I did indulge in a guided tour of Mayan pyramids and temples. I chose to see Uxmal, and it is incredibly impressive. Furthermore, the citizens are friendly and gracious (except perhaps a handful of aggressive vendors) and want to show you the best their city and country offers.

Stimulating Learning

Maybe I’m crazy, but I enjoy learning.

Mérida is off the beaten “American tourist" track enough that most people I encountered knew only a few words of English. That’s a good thing because they could not “help me” by speaking English. That meant that I could practice my pigeon Spanish (and my charades-acting ability.) I was extremely gratified to realize I could communicate! A bonus is that the Spanish language learning tapes I used free from my public library at home serendipitously had the same dialect used in Mérida.

Also, I loved seeing the Mayan indigenous people continuing to follow their customs without dilution, from what I could tell. The practice of courtesy and respect, especially great respect for elders, was very apparent.

All the Grandmas are Wearing This

Maybe not every single abuela, but many Mayan woman do wear this as daily garb.
Maybe not every single abuela, but many Mayan woman do wear this as daily garb. | Source

Warm and Sunny

That is the bottom line, isn’t it, for a snow bird? If you want to make sure, start tracking the weather conditions on a weather website.

A Very Heartwarming Moment

Because the state of Yucatan is heavily populated by ethnic Mayans, it can be useful to learn a few Mayan language phrases (found on the Internet, of course.)

When a young woman vendor approached me with shawls and belts for sale, I was able to smile and say in a friendly way "I don't have any money" in Mayan. This is a gentle joke because any foreigner who can vacation in Mexico obviously has money to spare.

Her face showed her shock and pleasure and she said to me in English: "You know Mayan!" We then chatted a teeny bit in Spanish and a lot with hand gestures. I did not purchase anything and when, after our satisfying chat, she prepared to leave I told her in Mayan language, "God go with you."

It was a very good encounter. I was so happy to have been able to convey my respect for her heritage.

* P.S.

– To prepare for the trip, I strongly advise you to research. As of the time of my trip, the United States had safety advisories issued for the northern and southern borders of Mexico (neither is near the Yucatan.) However, driving a car across the border to reach this warm oasis could add some unwelcome challenges to the vacation.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Maren Elizabeth Morgan


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wow - thank YOU for your detailed comment, Risha Linda! I am glad you had your husband there to give you a lighter spin on the spitting psycho. Hey, retail is a tough life! Yes, common sense and street smarts should never be abandoned. I hope you will enjoy Merida and Progresso on your next trip!

    • Risha Linda profile image

      Risha Linda Mateos 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I agree with you about the safety and courtesy in the Yucatan region, although there are still some common sense rules that apply. My husband and I took a road trip through Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and down into Chiapas with no problems at all. The locals were friendly and helpful, although we were stopped on the road in Chiapas numerous times by vendors selling candies and bananas. We finally ran out of pesos and the sweet little girl who had approached our car with such innocence and smiles suddenly became a screaming, spitting psycho when we informed her we had enough bananas and no more money to spend. My husband nearly split his gut laughing at my shocked sensibilities. Other than that bit of failed cultural exchange we were treated with kindness at every stop. Thanks for your hub about Merida, we will have to check it out on our next trip.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      sanya72, thank you. How is the weather in Romania now?

    • sany72 profile image

      Panga Sandu Teodor 

      7 years ago from Romania

      nice your post

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I agree with you completely. Research for travel destinations will clue one in on whether it is safe enough. At the time I went, US citizens were cautioned about where they needed to pass through in order to get to safe Merida, Yucatan.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      Visiting the Yucatan sounds delightful! We have visited several of the smaller border towns of Mexico in our travels and have always enjoyed the people, food and atmosphere. the area beforehand. There are still many safe places to travel in Mexico. It's just a matter of knowing enough about your destination. It's sad that there are places that are not safe and that people are leery about visiting Mexico because of the bad press.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Ben, are you a native of the Yucatan? I can understand your pride if you are.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Safest place on Earth and lot safer that the plase you are coming from!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I would not want to tempt fate by driving across the border and along the highway to get to the Yucatan. But once in the city of Merida, regular common sense should be just fine for staying safe.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Interesting Hub. Mexico is not as safe as it used to be but still a wonderful place to vacation.


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