The Gran Hotel in Merida, Mexico is the oldest hotel in Merida. Opened in 1901 the "French neo-Classic architecture attracted many movie producers and photographers. Guest book entries range from Fidel Castro to Charles Lindbergh, from Douglas Fairbanks to Cesar Augusto Sandino."
No wonder I felt something special when I entered through the portico. . .
|photo credit: Web|
We were in Merida to attend our grandson's baptism. Our daughter-in-law's sister, who lives in Merida, was having her son baptized also so it was decided to go down to Mexico to have Alejandro baptized there alongside Abraham. This would be my first time in Mexico if you don't count the few days spent in Cancun in the 1990s on a company-sponsored trip. That trip was awarded to top salespeople and Ken had qualified. Ken began learning Spanish a couple years ago when we started anticipating a bi-lingual grandchild, so we felt well-equipped to be on our own for most of the week in downtown Merida while our son and family stayed at his mother-in-laws.
We'd left our house in Maryland before 6:00 a.m. on Saturday the 13th, dropped off Gabriel at another son's, picked up our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson and continued on to the airport in Baltimore. It was a direct flight to Cancun, but then we'd have to take a 4-hour bus ride to Merida. We got through Customs quickly because our DIL retained her Mexican citizen when she became a U.S. citizen last year. This allowed us to go through the shorter line for Mexican citizens. Our DIL's family met us in two cars. By now it was after 6:00 p.m. so we all went out for supper after which we were dropped off at the hotel. Because there are no elevators and we were on the third floor our bags were carried up these stairs. . . .
We paused on the 2nd floor to look across the atrium. This is a view of the first and second floors. . .
This photo taken the next day includes the view across the atrium of the third floor. You can see our room door on the far right. . . .
We continued up another flight of stairs. . . .
This video was taken the next evening and shows the covering over the atrium--it is open to the sky around the border and porous so the moment you step out of your room you feel the heat and humidity. You can hear the music wafting in from the square. . . .
This is the door to our room!
When we walk in I'm amazed at the height of the ceiling. Our closet is the armoire with the mirror. . . .
The tile floor.... I wonder if it's the original. . . .
There is a writing desk at which I'll paint the scene out our window later. The smaller door goes to an adjoining bedroom for those who need more space. . . .
The amazing door has shutters to let the air flow through in pre-air-conditioning days. . . .
I threw open the curtains and stepped out onto the balcony before I saw the sign saying "Do not open window". . . .
This was taken at 9:30. . . . .
But we were not in for the night. The porter had told us about a shop that was still open that sold guayabera shirts made by artisans locally. We met up with him again in the atrium and he offered to take us to the shop, so we followed him through the crowded streets down a block and half-way up another. Ken found one to wear to the baptism along with a matching one for little Alejandro in a couple years. These were made from sisal which was a major industry in the Yucatan the latter part of the 19th/first part of the 20th century. The article in the link says it may be making a come-back. I'm glad to hear it because we were told it was a natural mosquito repellant. In fact, we did not encounter one mosquito until the following Saturday when we went to a Mayan village just outside Merida where Alejandro's baptism was being held at the local church where our DIL's cousin was to officiate.
Before going back to the hotel, we browsed in shops and at the tables set up in the park. The street was closed on one side of the hotel, open horse-drawn carriages were clip-clopping along. . . .
People were coming and going, the cathedrals and statues were lit up. . . .
|Iglesia Catedral San Iidefonso|
|Parque de La Madre|
The next morning we woke up to this bird on the balcony outside the window by the bed. . . .
I could not get enough of this view from the other window so you will be seeing it several times. The church is Iglesia de la Tercera Orden. Here are several views during the week. . . .
Later we had lunch at the same sidewalk cafe since it was raining quite heavily. . . .
There is another hotel on the square as well. You can see we are drinking bottled water. We were advised to not use tap water to drink or brush our teeth since we are not native to the country and might be sensitive to the bacteria that residents are accustomed to. We stayed away from street vendors and stuck with restaurants which all use purified water in their food preparations. . . .
The square is now called Parque Hidalgo after Miquel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest and leader of the Mexican War of Independence in 1811. Originally it was named after General Manuel Cepeda Peraza. He fought against the imperialists in 1867 and restored the republican government and assumed the position of governor of the Yucatan state. You can see the feet of someone still sleeping just to the left of his statue. It was not unusual to see someone sleeping on one of the benches every night. . . .
Seeing it rain INSIDE the hotel was a sight to behold. . . .
You may be wondering what such a grand hotel cost per day: $817. That's in pesos (they use the same $ sign we do so it was rather startling at first). In U.S. dollars it was only $44.00! The food was inexpensive as well. As you will see in upcoming posts we visited the chocolate shop several times. The only thing expensive was the clothing. However, the last morning I was there I decided to get my other grandson a guayabera, too. When I hesitated over the price, the shopkeeper quickly lowered it. I wish I'd known he'd do this earlier in the week when I bought my granddaughter a dress there.
As you can see it's taken me a whole post to tell you just about the hotel! In upcoming posts I'll be showing you more architecture from around the city, our visits to the museums, and the nightly events the city holds not only for us tourists but its residents.
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