Mexico

Mérida

Here you’ll find travel reports about Mérida. Discover travel destinations in Mexico of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day7

    Es geht mit dem Bus von Palenque nach Mérida. 8 Stunden soll der Spaß dauern. Letztlich brauchen wir 9 Stunden. Das liegt unter anderem daran, dass wir vom Militär angehalten werden. Warum ist unklar.
    In Mérida angekommen versuchen wir mit uber zum Hostel zu kommen. Aber niemand will uns abholen. Also nehmen wir ein Taxi, was uns aufgrund Straßensperrungen nicht bis zum Ziel bringen kann. Den Rest gehen wir zu Fuß.
    Von außen ist das Nomadas unscheinbar, doch hinter den Mauern offenbart sich ein kleines Paradies. Pool, Hängematten und gepflegte Zimmer. Die ganze Anlage ist zwar nicht groß, dafür aber mit viel Liebe und Auge für Details angelegt. Wir fühlen uns direkt wohl.
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  • Day8

    Wir starten den Tag ganz entspannt, schlafen lange und frühstücken. Da wir die erste Nacht nachgebucht haben müssen wir das Zimmer wechseln. Hier haben wir mehr Platz und eine Klimaanlage. Und einen gepolsterten Toilettensitz. Das ist äußerst gewöhnungsbedürftig. Unsere weitere Tagesplanung recherchieren wir in den Hängematten am Pool. Hier werden wir allerdings so zerstochen, dass wir recht schnell flüchten. Wir streifen durch die Stadt, um uns einen Überblick zu verschaffen. Mérida ist eine wundervolle Stadt. Überall ist Musik und weil Sonntag ist wird die Calle 60 für Autos gesperrt und ist mit Fußgängern und Radfahrern bevölkert. Wir lassen und treiben und „entdecken“ hübsche und gepflegte Anwesen aus der Kolonialzeit. Wir sind von der Stadt begeistert und freuen uns einen Tag mehr als geplant hier verbringen zu dürfen.Read more

  • Day10

    Unser letzter Tag in Mérida bricht an. Wir wollen noch etwas bummeln und an einer free Walking Tour teilnehmen. Nach wenigen Minuten merken wir jedoch, dass die Tour gar nicht so gut ist und wir stehlen uns heimlich davon. Stattdessen entscheiden wir uns für einen entspannten Tag am Pool. Wofür hat man den schließlich? Abends wagen wir uns in die Bar La Negrita gleich nebenan. Diese ist viel größer als erwartet und bietet zu sehr guten Preisen sehr leckere Cocktails. Mengen an Snacks und Musik inklusive.Read more

  • Day14

    Heute sind wir mit dem Mietwagen von Tulum in die Hauptstadt des Bundesstaates Yucatán (von hier kommen übrigens die Yucca Palmen) gefahren - das stark kolonial geprägte Mérida. Auf dem Weg dorthin haben wir uns etwas von den ausgetretenen Touristenpfaden entfernt und sind durch einige winzige Dörfer nach Homún gefahren, um uns dort zwei weitere Cenotes anzuschauen. Die erste war sehr klein und außer uns sind nur zwei weitere Personen durch den schmalen unterirdischen Fluss zur Schwimmstelle in einer stalagtitbehangenen Höhle gewatet. Die zweite war wie eine riesige Kuppel, welche man über zwei lange Treppen direkt durch das Loch der Cenote betreten konnte. Das Wasser unten war kristallklar und von einigen kleinen, schwarzen Welsen bevölkert. Wir hatten die unterirdische Schwimmstelle komplett für uns alleine - ein wahnsinnig tolles Schwimmerlebnis! Am Ende sind wir viel später als geplant in Mérida angekommen, haben es aber trotzdem noch geschafft bei unserem ausgedehnten Stadtspaziergang die wichtigsten Plätze und Bauwerke zu besichtigen, sowie ein Museum mit originalen Möbeln aus der Kolonialzeit zu besuchen und einem karibischen Konzert zu lauschen. Gegessen haben wir in einem tollen Peruanischen Restaurant.Read more

  • Day186

    I try not to complain too much, but we weren't really impressed with Merida. The "White City" was praised for its architecture and the many white historic buildings. What we found was a busy, loud, kitsch place with little atmosphere. Maybe it was because we had seen all these charming places further north and Merida simply couldn't keep up with our expectations. Or the start to our visit with our hotel lobby being completely demolished ;)

    Anyways, we found a few cool buildings, cafés, and a tray of cocktails in the colors of Mexico ;) (pic 5)
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  • Day149

    We'd thought of having a day or two in Yucatan state's capital of Merida, but after rave reviews from everyone we met whilst travelling we decided we'd be mad not to visit. We arrived on Sunday morning and after dropping our bags at our hotel we walked 10 minutes into the central square of the city. Immediately we realised that this was going to be the largest and busiest of all the places we've stayed in Central America as the city has a population of over 1 million people and every Sunday the square is closed to all traffic so that a craft and food market can take place. The square was alive with the buzz of people enjoying the sunny afternoon and we soon settled at a plastic table, sat on plastic chairs to enjoy a first taste of traditional Yucatacan food. The simple setup was perfect for the meal we were served which was delicious, and as we ate a number of street performers passed and entertained us with singing and music.

    As we walked around the square there were about 10 vendors selling 'Marquesitas' with different fun pictures on their signs and each had a large variety of sweet dessert toppings like strawberry sauce, nuttella, caramel sauce etc. Marquesitas are a thin pancake cooked between two hot irons then fillings are added before it is rolled up and they are a speciality found only in and around Merida so we knew we wanted to try one and had been told about the traditional combo to have, which is nutella and grated edam cheese. Weird as it sounds, it's actually delicious and Beth summed it up well as she tried it "Why is this nice?"!" Eating our marquesita we continued to explore the centre of the city and found dozens of beautiful old buildings as well as dance and music performances, street stalls laden with colourful trinkets and families and groups of friends milling about enjoying themselves, giving us a great introduction to the city.

    The following morning we were up early as our rental car was being dropped off at our hotel before we had breakfast. By 8.30am we were in the car and ready to have our first experience of driving in Mexico. I'm sure there are lots of you reading who think we must be mad for renting a car to explore the area, but as we began driving 2 hours west of the city it became quite easy to relax. The main things to adjust to were the lack of road markings and where they did exist the rule is to simply ignore them and that speed bumps of various shapes and sizes will appear regularly, especially around villages, although getting to a speed where they really serve their purpose is difficult as potholes aren't too hard to find either, which limits your speed a lot. Having said that we found that the roads were in fantastic condition and once out of the traffic of the city (with it's maze of one way streets) the driving became incredibly easy! We arrived at the outskirts of the seaside town of Celestun in the mid morning and grouped with four friendly Mexican holidaymakers, sharing the cost of the boat tour we were about to be taking.

    Having donned life jackets (it seems they're mandatory for any water activity in Mexico...) we climbed into our boat and the captain began whizzing us out into the lagoon. It appeared similar in size to the lagoon at Bacalar and is fringed with mangrove. Running parrallel with the mangrove we jetted along for ten minutes before we caught our first glimpse of the main attraction at the lagoon - wild flamingoes! At first we saw a group of 20 or so, then shortly after we reached the main viewing area where there were over 500 of the bright pink birds standing in the middle of the lagoon in the shallow water chattering to each other and feeding from in the water. Their colour is so vibrant and their sheer numbers was really impressive, especially when small groups began to take off and land, which is something that can only be experienced with wild flamingo as those in zoos have their wings clipped. Just before the boat began to reverse away from the main group of birds they all began to put on a display, walking in a huge group through the water whilst turning their heads every which way - what an experience! Just before the flamingo area in the lagoon is another bird island that we slowly passed, giving us the chance to watch huge pelicans and frigate birds perched in their nests amongst the branches of the mangrove up close.

    The next stop on our tour was a fresh water spring in the middle of the mangrove forest. The boat moored at a wooden jetty and 50 metres along the walkway was a pool of crystal clear water. Just beyond this were a series of other pools where the water could be seen bubbling and moving - the colour was incredible, especially considering the dirty water that normally accompanies any mangroves. We went back to the first pool where we got into the water which was perfectly cool and refreshing, giving us a chance to cool off before we had to go back to the boat to continue. The final part of the tour was to go through a mangrove tunnel and out of nowhere, with the boat continuing at full speed, the captain curves the boat toward the mangrove and into the previously unseen entrance to the tunnel. It was an exhilirating moment and then the speed died off so we could gently float through the rest of the tunnel, with mangrove over 100 years old towering all around us. We could hear the occasional bird call out and a splash in the distance but we couldn't see anything, except when a falcon perched itself on a branch as we passed below it, which was awesome!

    We were taken back to the main pier where we got back in the car and took up the invite of two of the other passengers to join them for lunch on the beach at Celestun. We found a recommended restaurant and sat at a table on the beach with the soft white sand floor and deep blue ocean as a beautiful backdrop to a delicious meal of seafood. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting, swimming and relaxing before we decided it was time to head back to Merida for the evening.

    For our second day trip we were again up early as we wanted to avoid the midday heat and we knew we had a full day ahead. After a couple of hours drive out of the city we left behind traffic and good roads. Beth had read a blog that included some directions but they ended at the village of Cuzama. The only thing that gave us an idea of being in the right direction was an escort that formed around us of teenagers on their bicycles, waving laminated cards at us, with pictures of the cenotes we wanted to visit on. Our escort stayed with us as we drove out of the village and onto an awful dirt road that was undergoing construction work but after a few miles we arrived in tact and still with our entourage. After parking the young lads pointed us to a group of waiting men, who it turned out were their dads - they would be our guides for a few hours. After paying our fare we were ushered onto a small carriage that sat on train tracks, then a horse was tethered to the front and our guide began to coax the horse forward which pulled our little carriage along. The track had seen better days and as we trundled through a few kilometres of dry scrubland we bounced around in the cart until the track ended, where we were met with a half bike, half tuk-tuk vehicle that whizzed us five minutes down a dirt track until we arrived at yet another train track into the bush. We later learnt that these tracks were originally laid when the land was owned by a hacienda and was used to move henequen about during the production process for sisal, a cotton like material that was widely manufactured in the Yucatan area before cotton superseded it, leaving behind plenty of haciendas and the infrastructure that supported them.

    Anyway, back to our second horse drawn train ride. There would be three stops along the second track, each at a different cenote in the area. As we neared each the guide would slow the horse, release the tether and it would gently walk off to one side to munch on nearby greenery as we rolled to a stop. A hundred metres or so from the track we would find a different and unique cenote, all appearing seemingly out of nowhere below ground level. The first we visited had an entrance a few metres wide with a set of steep, slippery metal stairs descending into the dark. About 15m below the ground is a huge pool of crystal clear but incredibly blue water that disappeared deep out of sight, with thick tree roots growing like vines from the ceiling and down into the water. It was jaw-dropping-ly beautiful and it wasn't long before we jumped into the water for a swim and to wash away the heat and dust from up on the surface. We couldn't believe our luck in finding the perfect cenote on our first go, it was beautiful and so quiet with only a handful of people there. All too soon we had to get out and make the climb back to the waiting cart to continue the tour to the second cenote. It was a short ride on the tracks to get to the furthermost cenote and this one was accessed by a ladder that disappeared into a hole barely large enough for the ladder and climber. From the surface you couldn't see the bottom, and this was too much for Beth to do so I left her above as I climbed down into the darkness. Below was a stone platform that looked out over a pool of beautiful water with the only natural light shooting down in a beam from a half-metre wide hole in the roof of the cenote. I jumped from the platform into the water, not realising it was about 5m high...exhilarating and refreshing at the same time! Because of the small opening in the roof there was much less light here than the previous cenote and the stalagmites and stalactites that surrounded the water's edge were cast in a half light that really added to the mysterious feel of the swimming hole.

    The third and final cenote was back near the beginning of the train track and it's entrance was concealed amongst the roots of a large tree. Once again a ladder worked downwards into the cave and darkness so Beth stayed up top while I climbed down into a cave network lit up with torches and lanterns, as there was no natural light down there. Our guide accompanied me and pointed me to a narrow waterway that curved around a corner and out of sight. As I got into the water it felt incredibly cold so the swimming felt good, and the waterway continued for about 25 metres whilst flanked either side by high, smooth walls. When out of the water I explored more of the cave and saw the thousands of stalactites and stalagmites that formed a natural structure reminiscent of a magnificent cathedral - it was incredibly beautiful!

    Back on the surface a short while later we began the reverse journey to take us back to where we left our car. After the first horse-cart there was no bike waiting for us but thankfully one that had just dropped off it's passengers offered to take us back to the other track. After the short drive we were waiting essentially in the middle of nowhere for a horse and train-car to appear and next to us a young guy began casually sharpening his machete, thankfully not menacingly! A little while later we were on our final horse drawn cart back to the beginning - what an amazing experience it had been!

    Next we drove an hour to the picturesque town of Izamal. As we entered we found street after street of quaint colonial-style buildings all painted in the same mustard-yellow paint, giving the town it's nickname of 'The Yellow City'. We stopped for lunch in the garden of a locally famous restaurant and feeling more rested began exploring the town on foot. As well as a couple of well manicured squares the town also has a large monastery that sits above the town, with great views out over the buildings. The monastery itself is made from stone recovered from Mayan temples that were destroyed to facilitate the construction of the monastery and incredibly a handful of stones with Mayan patterns can be found around the site. We enjoyed walking around the town and sadly missed the opening hours of a local Mayan pyramid that is located right in the middle of the town, which meant we could only look at it from the base rather than climb to the top to see across the whole town. The day had been busy enough anyway so we went back to Merida, arriving in time to have dinner before collapsing into bed.

    After the full days we'd had the previous two days we intended to have a quieter day on Wednesday. Our first stop was Mayapan, one time capital of the Mayan empire. There are only a dozen or so structures excavated and restored but this made the whole site very accessible and easy to explore. What's more despite it's significance, a few times we had the whole site to ourselves! Some of the structures were small yet very impressive, with carved imagery visible in a number of areas. Atop the main pyramid El Castillo there was an incredible panoramic view over the jungle, with only a distant hotel visible above the tree line. Most impressive of all was hidden under a covered pagoda - an original, multicoloured and highly detailed picture depicting a couple of warriors. It was so well preserved considering it's creators died well over 1000 years ago!

    In total we spent a couple of hours at the site before we'd finished and the timing was good as it was now the hottest part of the day, and our plan for the afternoon was to explore a few towns and to search out a cenote or two. We passed through two quaint towns, stopping in the second named Mama in the hope of finding some lunch but the town had such a sleepy feel to it that all we could find was a convenience store where we bought snacks and a cold drink to tide us over.

    We'd read in a tourist magazine about a small town that boasted in it's central plaza a pretty church and a cenote, so giving up on the idea of lunch at a normal hour we made for the town. When we arrived a couple of locals boys raced over to the car and then showed us over to a fenced wall in the middle of the square, behind which was a view down into the cenote! It was bizarre being located in the centre of the village but made it all the better and with how quiet the town seemed we hoped we'd have it to ourselves. The boys showed us into a shop, understanding that they'd be able to unlock the gates for us so we could enter but when inside we found that the reason the gates were locked is because the cenote has dried up and with no water inside they've closed it! The church was also closed up and the other 20 or so buildings we could see were just houses so we left the village disappointed. By now we were really hungry and VERY ready to cool off with a swim so decided to make back towards Merida and to go to a cenote that we'd been told by our Airbnb host was very touristy. When we arrived we gained the positives and negatives of this - it was REALLY busy and underground it was small, meaning the water was crowded with other visitors however the cenote itself was really beautiful, with only a few metres of headroom above the surface of the water, making it the smallest of all that we visited. It was also well lit, highlighting the beautiful rock formations around the edges. Above ground they also had a restaurant where we (finally at 4pm!) had a light lunch of rather average salad and tostadas (a fried tortilla with toppings).

    After relaxing some more in their grounds we headed back to Merida, which was now only a short drive away. We went for dinner a block back from the main plaza and then decided on a walk to find marquesitas which were normally found in the main plaza. When we got there there were no vendors but there was a few hundred seats out facing one of the more ornately decorated buildings on the plaza, so we sat down and waited for the weekly light and sound show to begin. With a commentary in Spanish and English and using projectors they highlighted parts of the building's facade which celebrated 'Merida's Father', a Spaniard called Montejo. Next actors exited the building and acted the story of how he had taken over Merida and built it up during Colonial times, after which a Mayan dance group performed traditional dances to some slightly unusual music. The whole thing was really enjoyable and completely free! It was a great way to round off the day on a high after a bit of a disappointing afternoon and continued to leave us with a great opinion of Merida itself.

    Our final two days in Merida are continued in part two of the post...

    Phil
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  • Day152

    Following a similar theme as the day before we were starting a busy day with some Mayan ruins, except the day's were much larger and further away from Merida. We arrived at the ruins of Uxmal (Oosh-mal) by mid morning and when we entered the first ruin that we saw is the 37m tall 'Magician's House'. Unusually for Mayan temples or palaces it is rounded, but was topped with a very ornate structure that at one time could have been entered and is quite typical of this type of building with a big difference being that we could see the ornate carvings that covered every bit of the building. As we continued walking through the complex the next part we came to is named The Quadrangle - it is a large parade ground like square surrounded on all sides by long buildings, almost all of which are set about 5m above ground level by solid stone bases. As we entered the square we saw the incredible detailed carvings that reminded us of those at Angkor Wat. The buildings and decorative carvings had clearly been very heavily restored to demonstrate what they would have originally looked like, and wow they were impressive! Every inch of the hundreds and hundreds of metres of stonework was covered in carvings depicting the rain god Chaac (very important to the Mayans in this areas as it's basically a desert for most of the year!), serpents, jaguars and other animals that held power in their culture. We were awed by the square and could see over the nearby jungle to more of the site which we spent another couple of hours exploring. By the time we'd reached the far side and end of our self-guided tour the complex had amazed us with the level of detail and number of restored structures and it was by far the best Mayan site we visited in all of Central America!

    It was now lunchtime so we drove a short distance to a nearby Hacienda that has been converted into an events venue and restaurant. We parked up and walked through the lovely gardens to the main building which now houses the restaurant. We sat surrounded by fountains and a courtyard full of colourful flowers and enjoyed the buffet lunch the restaurant is well-known for. The theme was, of course, Mexican food with lots of Yucatan specialities we'd both tried and been keen to try. The food was really good and we ate plenty, then feeling the need to work some of it off we walked around the rest of the grounds and found both a swimming pool and a cenote...why not have both! 10 minutes up the road from the gorgeous Hacienda is a famous cenote, and having gotten suitably hot and dusty at Uxmal we needed to cool off and relax so we followed the signs that led us down a few miles of bumpy dirt track before we found a few dozen cars parked around a hole in the ground that was starting to become recognisable to us. As fast as we could we changed into our swimming gear and descended the wooden staircase into the cenote. It was similar in size to the first at Cuzama but that was the only similarity really as this one was so full of other tourists it wasn't very relaxing, although it was still very beautiful. One half of the water was shallow enough to stand and the other had a few people bobbing around in it, but mainly the deeper sections were reserved for something else. Half way up the stairs to the entrance was a larger step that, if you climbed through the wooden handrail, was the perfect place to jump 5m into the water. I watched a few people do this before having a go myself, twice! The jumping itself was great fun but climbing through the barrier required me to lean out quite far over the edge to get through the small gap (not so fun!), but it was worth it.

    Back in Merida that evening we had dinner and a marquesita - how could we not, when they're so unique?

    Friday was our final day in Merida and we hadn't planned too much what we wanted to do, however feeling exhausted from the busy week we had a slow start and then headed to one of the closest Mayan sites to Merida, Dzibilchaltun. Another significant site in it's heyday we were hoping for another impressive site and we weren't disappointed. The majority of the structures here were smaller and more like pyramids, including one that was over 100m long. In what would have been the central plaza there was also a more 'modern' looking building, which we found out was the remains of a church that was built in the 16th century by Spaniards using the stones of the ruins that surrounded the building. This was the second time (the first was the monastery at Izamal) we'd seen this in the week in the Yucatan area and that gives an indication of how widescale this practice was in the country.

    The highlight of the Dzibilchaltun site is a large, pyramid shaped structure named 'The Temple of Seven Dolls' (after the seven dolls that were found inside...) that is 10 minutes walk away from the main structures and we reached it by following a long limestone road that had also been excavated at the site and impressively it was in fairly good condition considering what it's made from and how old it is (about 1000 years!). The temple we reached at the end is incredibly popular during the spring and autumn equinoxes when, at the right time of day, the sun can be seen in the centre of the building atop the pyramid. This would've been an incredible sight to have seen, but the building itself was impressive and we imagined what it would have been like during a Mayan festival in all it's grandeur. As we reached the temple it was well into the heat of the day and we realised our mistake in having a lie-in and missing the cool of the morning, so feeling completely exhausted by the heat we made our way back to the car, stopping on the way at the very good museum which contained hundreds of incredibly well preserved and restored artefacts from around the site including a pok ta pok goal-ring and a huge 8ft tall stellae.
    We'd originally hoped to swim in the open-air cenote that can be found in the midst of the Mayan structures however it was closed sadly, but at least we got to see it at it's picture-perfect best! We headed back into Merida for a late lunch where Beth ate a kilo or two (I am NOT exaggerating!) of loaded nachos then fell into a food coma - she did have some help from me too... As it was going to be our last afternoon in Merida we relaxed in the hotel and both enjoyed an incredible massage. That evening we knew that the Mayan game of Pok ta Pok would be recreated in a weekly event in the Main Plaza of the city, but sadly there was really heavy rain that meant it was cancelled so we took a more relaxed approach to the evening and prepared ourselves for one of our last journeys of Mexico and the trip the following day to Valladolid.

    Phil
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  • Day43

    Unglaublich - wir sind im wunderschönen Mérida 😀 Nachdem wir gestern Abend mit Antonio und Christina im Dunkeln schon etwas die Stadt erkundet und in einer Bar noch ein Bier getrunken haben, stand heute der Turibus auf dem Plan. Mit dem Turibus konnten wir uns erst mal einen Überblick über die Stadt verschaffen. Nach der Tour haben wir das Casa de Montejo angeschaut - ein koloniales Gebäude aus dem Jahr 1549, in dem heute eine Bank untergebracht ist. Auch die Catedral San Ildefonso haben wir besichtigt - eine Barockkirche, die aus den Steinen der Mayapyramide erbaut wurde, die sich zuvor an dieser Stelle befand. Anschließend waren wir noch im Palacio de Gobierno, dem Regierungspalast. Den Abend haben wir auf dem Zócalo ausklingen lassen 😊🌙Read more

  • Day44

    Während der kulturellen Wochen hier in Mérida wurde auch das Ballspiel der Maya gezeigt:
    Der Ball bestand aus Kautschuk und wog in etwa so viel wie ein Medizinball. Dieser durfte nie den Boden berühren. Die Spieler mussten den Ball mit der Schulter, der Hüfte oder dem Ellenbogen in der Luft halten. Der Einsatz von Händen und Füßen war verboten. An den Wänden waren in sechs Metern Höhe steinerne Ringe angebracht. Durch diese Ringe musste der kiloschwere Ball geschlagen werden. Die Mannschaft, die das am häufigsten schaffte, gewann das Spiel.
    Die Verlierer wurden den Göttern geopfert. Wie ein Ball wurden sie mit festen Seilen zusammengebunden und die unzähligen Stufen der Tempelpyramiden hinuntergestoßen. Einige Archäologen glauben allerdings, dass nicht die Verlierer, sondern die Sieger eines Ballspiels geopfert wurden, denn die Maya sahen den Tod nicht als Ende an. Den Göttern geopfert zu werden war eher eine Ehre als eine Strafe.
    Als zweite Version des Ballspiels wurde bei der Vorführung das Spiel mit einem Ball gezeigt, der brennt. Hierbei wurden die Hände zum Spielen benutzt.
    Nach dem Schauspiel sind wir noch durch ein paar Bars gezogen, um einmal das richtige mexikanische Nachtleben kennen zu lernen 😀🎉
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Mérida, Merida, ماردة, Горад Мерыда, Мерида, Μέριδα, مریدا، یوکاتان, MID, メリダ, მერიდა, 메리다, Emerita, Mérida i Yucatán, Меріда, 梅里达

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