Yucatan — one of Mexico's safest spots — is full of Maya lore and wonder

By Christopher Reynolds

Los Angeles Times

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Merida's traffic drove me nuts and gave me plenty of time to scrawl "miserable city driving torture" in my notebook while creeping along at 2 mph. For the carless, the city's 16th century cathedral, its plaza loud with bird song, and the poc-chuc (grilled pork with citrus juice) at La Chaya Maya on Calle 62 are good fun. But if I had this trip to do again, I'd give Merida just one night.

I'd sleep instead in the countryside, perhaps at the Pickled Onion, a restaurant and B&B in Santa Elena (near Uxmal) that's run by an English expat named Valerie Pickles, or perhaps at one of the big hotels at Uxmal so I could walk to the ruins.

I'd also spend a few more nights in Valladolid, which has twice the charm and about 8 percent of the population of Merida. The Hotel El Meson del Marques on the plaza charges about $60 a night, and I had the most elegant meal of my visit at Taberna de los Frailes, a short walk away. While I ate, songs of worship seeped into the night from the neighboring Ex-Convento de San Bernardino de Siena.

For the record, I predict an uneventful Dec. 21. But if you get to Yucatan and you're lucky, the Maya past, present and future may flash before your eyes.

More information

Mexico tourism: www.visitmexico.com.

Yucatán tourism: www.yucatan.travel/en.

Mérida tourism: www.merida.gob.mx/turismo/index_in.htm

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