Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let's Get Spiritual

From the article "Spirited Away in Merida" by Guy Saddy for ENROUTE the inflight magazine published by Air Canada.

Although gods have shaped this place, the hand of man has also played its part. Speeding down cobblestone thoroughfares with John Powell and Josh Ramos, two ex-New Yorkers who’ve made a permanent home in Mérida restoring and leasing Spanish colonial homes, we pass street after street crammed with centuries-old architecture. The motherlode is on Paseo de Montejo, a boulevard lined with spectacular mansions; most were built during the henequén, or sisal, boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Mérida was rumoured to have more millionaires than any other place in the world.

We shoot by Parque Santiago, where we will later dine alfresco on habanero-laced Yucatecan specialties such as sopa de lima and panuchos at La Reina Itzalana while a guitar-and-vocal duo bangs out a tune – yet more evidence that almost everywhere you go in Mérida there’s music. We pass Parque de Santa Ana, whose night vendors sell sweet, tequila-flavoured ice cream, and circle Plaza Grande.

But soon a sense of déjà vu takes over: Haven’t we been by here before? Many of the streets are dominated by pastel-, white- and cream-coloured structures, lending a uniform esthetic to much of Centro Histórico and likely the reason Mérida earned the nickname “The White City.” After a while, the streets – and, indeed, the city itself – appear to meld into a single, disorienting blur.

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