Been There – Merida

Starbucks Been There – Merida is a mug for the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. The origin of its nickname “The White City” (La Ciudad Blanca) is not exactly clear. But what’s certain is that thanks to a distinctive blend of traditions inherited from the ancient Maya civilization and customs brought by Spanish conquistadors, it was named American Capital of Culture in the years 2000 and 2017. And while it is a modern city and state capital, it is also a cultural center, featuring multiple museums, art galleries, restaurants, movie theatres. A great number of old buildings in the “centro histórico” (historical center) will let you dive into the history of the Spanish colonization era. These are some points of interest to visit, according to the design of the mug:
– Casa de Montejo was built between 1543 and 1549 to house Spanish soldiers. It is now a museum with a permanent exhibition of renovated Victorian, neo-rococo and neo-renaissance furnishings.
– The Monumento a la Patria is a popular tourist attraction opened in 1956. It incorporates more than 300 hand-carved figures, that tell the story of México from the establishment of Tenochtitlán to the mid 20th century. The monument is located at Paseo de Montejo, which is a notable avenue with some of the most iconic buildings and monuments of the city.
– “in lak’ech halak’in” seems to be a traditional Mayan greeting which can be translated as “I am you, and you are me”. I am seeing other spelling variation, “In Lak’ech Ala K’in”, which is more common. Does it mean Starbucks is going to update the design of the mug? It’s hard to say now.
Btw, I was not able to locate the building on the front of the mug, even after spending quite some time. Leave a comment if you know what that is!

Food is a specialty of this region and in order to get the full experience from your travel to Merida, you have to really try some of its traditional dishes. This is especially important because local cuisine is unique compared to other Mexican states. It was largely inspired by Mayan cuisine, for obvious reasons, with some influence from Caribbean, European and Middle Eastern foods.
Here are some of the dishes to try:
– Sopa de Lima is a broth-like hot soup made from chicken stock and lima (a citrus fruit similar to lime, but less acidic) and filled with chunks of chicken and pieces of fried tortilla.
– Cochinita Pibil is a true Yucatec dish where citrus-marinated pork is seasoned with achiote paste from the annatto seed and wrapped in a banana leaf. As the name suggests (“little, buried pig”) this dish traditionally requires the whole pig which is then slow-cooked in a fire pit in the ground.
– Papadzules (really love the name!) – are corn tortillas dipped in pumpkin seed sauce, stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and topped with a tomato and chili salsa. It seems unusual for an average tourist at first, yet totally worth the try.
– Pavo en Relleno Negro looks very interesting because of its dark sauce made from charred chilies and spices, which is then generously poured over turkey. Add hard-boiled eggs and fresh tortillas to enjoy the most of this amazing dish.

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