Savour an extended weekend in Mexico’s hot new gay-stination.
The best thing about a trip to Mexico is how easy it can be to visit from Canada and the United States. Instead of red-eye flights and international connections, the land of Mayans, margaritas and mariachi bands is perfect for quick escapes.
Given this proximity, we developed two trips that are short and sweet. Take one for a quick escape. Take both back-to-back for a longer holiday. Our Mexico City Adventure will immerse you in the country’s cosmopolitan capital. Our Magical Merida Weekend – the focus of this post – celebrates the unique culture and vibe of the Yucatan Peninsula.
If you’re not familiar with Merida, here’s four things to love about our four day sojourn.
4. The Art, History & Culture
Many associate Mexican holidays – especially gay Mexican holidays – with beaches, blue chairs, and salty bikinis. They’re fun. They’re festive. And good times have been fuelled by badly mixed margaritas. But Merida offers more. It’s the capital of the Yucatan and accordingly is home to provincial and cultural institutions. It has a prosperous history and was once home to the world’s most millionaires. And today? It remains home to the third largest centro histórico in the Americas, while attracting newfound attention with the travel cognoscenti.
3. The Yu-nique cuisine
Mérida is situated west of Cancun, on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. This geographic isolation gave Mayan culture a unique opportunity to survive colonial eradication efforts that swept through mainland Mexico. As you walk the city streets you’ll feel the Mayan influence surround you in the architecture, music and fashion. Best of all you can taste it from humble street stalls to the most exquisite restaurants. Yucatan cuisine will even be the focus of our Welcome Dinner. Here’s a peek at the kind of fare you’ll get to savour.
The epitome of Yucatan cuisine, this dish marries the Mayan tradition of slow-roasting meats in an underground oven called a ‘pib’ with pork – a traditional Spanish protein. Every family and restaurant has their own recipe but a proper cochinita pibil should include pork, banana leaves, achiote paste and orange juice. The meat may be served on a taco, and is garnished with purple onion, lemon, and oregano.
Sopa de Lima
The evolution of an ancient Mayan dish, ‘lime soup’ is actually tomato and chicken soup dressed with tortilla strips and habanero peppers. While it can be mild or spicy, it’s the bittersweet Yucatan limes that lend signature flavour to the dish. Sopa de lima is comparable to both pozole and tortilla soup.
In this enticingly simple dish, pork cutlets are marinated in sour orange juice then grilled over charcoal. The citrus tang collides with a smoky infusion from the burning embers. Once cooked, it’s served with a selection of salsas and corn tortillas on the side.
In this dish, hard boiled eggs are rolled into warm corn tortillas, then drenched with pumpkin seed sauce. Finally it’s topped with a drizzle of tomato sauce. There is speculation that enchiladas, a better known Mexican entree, actually evolved from papadzules.
2. Cenotes & biospheres
We could spend the entire trip in Merida alone, but it would be shameful to visit without wallowing in the surrounding wilderness and geography. Cenotes, for example, are a distinctly Yucatan phenomenon that occur when a giant sinkhole forms in limestone and reveals a pool of water below. Basically, it’s a striking cave made for picture-perfect swims.
We have also devoted a day to visiting the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. Here you’ll see a plethora of plumed pretties including flamingoes, mockingbirds and the Yucatan woodpecker.
1. The gay-friendly vibe
As an LGBTQ+ traveler you will definitely feel welcome in Merida. In fact, Merida is considered the safest city in all of Mexico. Many expats call Merida home, including a solid queer community. People mix openly, so there is no ghetto. It’s also worth noting that, as we mentioned before, the Yucatan Peninsula held firm to Mayan traditions and cultural beliefs, even in regards to sexuality and gender expression. The Aztecs even had a patron saint of homosexuality named Xōchipilli.
Be sure to check out Plaza Grande, where friendly faces like to congregate. It’s a park and central square in one, so perfect for people watching. Our final night does include a proper cantina crawl where we’ll sip and shimmy our way through the city’s lively LGBTQ-welcoming bars.
If you’re looking to venture out yourself, here are a few places to consider:
- Casa Chica is set in a charming colonial home, with everything from coffee to cocktails and array of bites
- Papis – though literally called “Daddies” in Spanish, this is a fun mixed bar with go-go dancing eye candy 👀
- If you love a good dive bar try out Cantina Jorge’s Imperial
- Blue Gay Club is the massive dance bar if you really want to rock out
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