Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Bit of Exploring

I am now on my own in Mérida, and I decided to explore some parts of the city that I have not seen before.  Yes, in spite of all the times that I have been here, there are places even in the historic center that I have not seen.

The "norte" (the cold front from the north) that passed through over the weekend is dissipating.  The clouds are giving way to more sunshine, and the temperature, although still comfortable, is rising.  It was a pleasant day for a walk

I headed south from the main plaza, and within a few blocks I was in the "colonia" (neighborhood) of San Juan.  Each neighborhood of the old city is centered around a parish church and a small plaza dating back to colonial times.  Here is the Church of San Juan.

I was still in familiar territory.  I have passed through this part of town numerous times on my way to the nearby bus stations.

At one corner of the plaza is the Arch of San Juan.  Mérida was once a walled city with eight gates.  This is one of only three gates which still stand.

I passed through the gate and continued southward toward the neighborhood of San Sebastián, an area I had never explored before.  That neighborhood is centered of course around the Church of San Sebastián.

This pretty building, which is attached to the church, now houses the offices of the Secretariat of Public Education.

San Sebastián is not a fancy neighborhood, but its streets lined with old houses have a certain charm.

There are derelict, abandoned buildings, but others are brightly painted.

I can imagine the disapproval you would face back home if you were to paint your house these bright colors... but here in Mexico they look wonderful.

Sometimes you come upon incredibly narrow houses such as this one.

They are the result of property being divided up over the generations.  The lot is narrow but very deep, and such houses have one room after another.  We would call them "shot-gun" houses back in the U.S.

There were a number of properties that were for sale.

I suspect that prices are lower here than in other neighborhoods that are more popular with "gringo" ex-pats.  However, I have read that "gringos" are starting to buy homes in San Sebastián too.

This picturesque house, which is also for sale, has an historical marker on it.  It is nicknamed "the House of the Decapitated Friar",  because the roof-top statue of a monk no longer has its head.

On many street corners in the historic center there are old plaques which identify local landmarks which may no longer exist.  These plaques always had a picture for the benefit of those who were illiterate.  

Today the curious names on these plaques are often a mystery to passersby.  But in this case there is a historical marker explaining the reason why this corner was called "La Flor de Mayo".  There was once a grocery store on this location that was called "Flor de Mayo" because of the flowering frangipani shrubs growing by it.

After exploring San Sebastián I retraced my steps back to Colonia San Juan and then headed east.  I entered the neighborhood of San Cristóbal and came to the parish church of the same name.  This rather impressive building was one of the last churches built during the colonial era.

I continued northward along the street in front of the church and came to the other two city gates which are still standing.

"El Arco del Puente" (the Arch of the Bridge)...

... and "El Arco de los Dragones" (the Arch of the Dragoons), so named because the army cavalry headquarters were once located next to it.

Just a block beyond the second arch was the Church of "La Mejorada".  I was now back in familiar territory, just a few blocks from my hotel.

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