Merida is an enchanting city with much to enjoy and little to cause complaint. Approachable and friendly, the citizens find their roots in the Mayan, Spanish, French and Lebanese culture. This is a civilized city where people are civil to one another. Neighbors know each other and often, are related. Family is not just important here, family is everything - as is a sense of community. People belong here.

It is safe here. Violent crime is practically unheard of. As in any city of million people, there is petty street crime. However, no matter where you go in the city or at what hour, you will not feel intimidation. There is not that nagging fear that exist in so many cities. There is an overall gentleness that pervades.

Handguns are not permitted. There is a large police presence - traffic police, city police, tourist police, state police and federal police. This police presence does deter criminal activity. However, with all these police available, there is not an atmosphere of police repression. The police are here FOR you! They are not out to GET you.

The streets are energized with people at all hours. The city is alive and the citizens feel safe to be on the streets. People walk here. There is a constant flow of activity - buses, bikes, motor scooters, taxis and cars. Occasionally, traffic can be a test of patience in the center city, but it is a testimony to a vibrant community in an ancient city.

Architecturally, Merida is a feast for the eyes. From the grandeur of fabulous French style mansions, to the uncompromising grace of a perfect colonial arch in a small courtyard garden, few places rival Merida in architectural variety and charm. Wander the center city or the outer neighborhoods, and you’ll be delighted when you suddenly stumble upon a turn-of-the-century hacienda, colonial casona, or a charming, worn stone church. There are places here where time literally stands still.

Merida offers an abundance of gastronomic delights. With Merida's excellent location and climate, residents and visitors enjoy a grand variety of year-round tropical fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats. Located less than 30-minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, the local markets and restaurants provide a feast of fresh shellfish, mollusks and fish. Ranches that specialize in pork, poultry and beef surround Merida.

Almost any cuisine is available in Merida -- French, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, Vegetarian, Argentinian, Chinese and Japanese, Thai, Fusion and more! The local Yucatecan cuisine is habit forming. You will find yourself craving “cochinita, lechon, carnitas, barbacoa, pavo relleno, panuchos, salbutes, frijol y puerco and hundreds of fabulous local dishes and tacos. Probecho!

The cultural scene in Merida is top notch! The soul must be fed and Merida serves up a stellar menu of arts, dance, symphony, jazz, recitals, poetry readings, theatre, cinema, markets, parks, fairs and bazaars. The government and local residents patronize the arts. Culture is important and art galleries are flourishing. Every night of the week there is something “happening” in Merida. Street dances or singing, art openings, wine tasting, music recitals, poetry readings, discussion groups, professional baseball and soccer games, annual festivals, color and fun. Don’t forget - Carnival! Entry fees and tickets are very inexpensive and often are free. In the year 2000, Merida was named the first American Capital of Culture.

Merida is a vast metropolitan city that seems small. There is something here for everyone and every budget. For more information on Merida or purchasing homes in Merida, please contact me.

Mitchell Jay Keenan, CRS