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“The White City,” nicknamed so for its signature limestone and squeaky-clean streets, is only 20 minutes from the beach and a day trip from Cancun, but a world apart from both. The capital and cultural and financial center of the Yucatan State, Merida’s modern museums, art galleries, restaurants, and shop stand juxtaposed against its proximity to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
Within its walls, find meticulously restored plazas, cathedrals, and colonial mansions, and learn to move in Vaqueria regional styles of jarana folk dance against the sounds of wind and brass. Those seeking thorough authenticity can call for the bombas rhymes – short, clever banter exchanged between male and female dancers – in between songs. These traditions are only a small part of Merida’s fascinating heritage. Isolated from other parts of Mexico due to its unique geography on the Five Hills of the ancient Mayan city of T’ho, Spanish is spoken with a distinctive accent and the cuisine is diverse, representative of the local culture that gives its people much to be proud of.