International Living Postcards

Why I Love Colonial Mexico
By Glynna Prentice

I love living in Campeche, on the Yucatán Peninsula’s Gulf Coast. I’m a five-minute walk from the beautifully-preserved historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage site)…


…and about the same distance from the malecón (boardwalk) that runs along the Gulf. Sea breezes cool the air, especially in the evening. People go running on the malecón then, or strolling in the center. It’s a very safe, peaceful city.

  “I’m living better than ever. I have new friends, a great social life, and I 
can afford to eat out and travel as much as I like…I would never have 
had this kind of life if I’d stayed in California…”

Campeche is great for my day-to-day shopping. I enjoy going to the traditional market for fruits and vegetables, and I have half a dozen large supermarkets to choose from for staples. But when I need big-ticket items or a taste of expat life, I head to the big city—Merida.

Mérida is less than a two-hour drive from my front door. In Mérida I can find large department stores like Liverpool and Chapur, and the U.S.’s familiar Sears. There’s also Pier One, a huge Home Depot, and Costco.

Mérida also has several malls…including one with a huge Cineplex that has films in English. I sometimes drive by there to see what’s playing. Films seem to open in Mérida at about the same time they do in the U.S.

For all its big shopping centers and range of stores, Mérida’s historic center remains very traditional.


The main squares are colonial. Long arcades filled with shops and cafes entice you to stop for a coffee, a beer or an ice cream. Sorbetería Colón, in the arcade near the cathedral, is one of my favorites. I can almost always persuade myself to stop for a fresh fruit sorbet. The mango and coconut flavors are outstanding. But I also love less common flavors like elote (corn) and pitahaya, an exotic fruit that tastes a bit like kiwi.

Many expats have chosen to live in centro. Like San Francisco, New York, and many European cities, Mérida’s centro is very walkable. (In fact, it’s easier to leave the car behind.) When I stay in Mérida, I tend to look for live music in the evening. There are usually musicians playing in a local square somewhere in centro. Or I’ll find artists who’ve set out paintings for sale, jewelers selling earrings and necklaces, or performance artists. There’s almost always something to see.

I usually try to stay a day in Mérida when I fly in and out of its convenient international airport. And now Mérida is more of a hub than ever: Regional airline Mayair now has daily flights from the Caribbean Coast—from Cozumel and Cancún—to Mérida. The flights cut the four-hour drive from Mérida to Cancún down to one hour.

Twice a week flights continue on to Campeche, putting me just two hours by air from Cancún. I’m thinking that I should try out the flight soon….though perhaps I should take a layover in Mérida on the way back—just for a little shopping.