Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mexicos World Heritage Sites

New York Times

Off a lazy plaza in the historic center of Izamal, Mexico, across the street from a Franciscan monastery built in 1561 on top of a Maya pyramid, a small market putters along. Behind open arches painted golden yellow like every other colonial building in town, poor quality T-shirts cover the walls, their silly English slogans clearly targeted at local residents, as are the avocados and chirimoyas sold by an older woman nearby.

Souvenir vendor awaits tourists at Chichén Ítza.
But squint a little, and it's easy to imagine a different future for this small Yucatán town. The bargain "No Problem" and "Sport Attitude" jerseys morph into crisp, overpriced Izamal T-shirts; the woman is still there, but selling knickknacks to tourists who've just toured the pyramids or the monastery, El Convento de San Antonio de Padua, with its nearly two-acre atrium. Then they will head off to picturesque hotels that do not yet exist.

If municipal officials have their way, Izamal, or at least the convent, will be designated the eight-hundred-and-somethingth Unesco World Heritage site, and that new tableau will be all but ensured...

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