Best of Yucatan

Josh and I bought an old jeep on ebay and came to Mexico shopping for our store in New York. Every year we returned looking for the right environment to live and work. We never left home without a bag full of heavy guides. Most of the guidebooks were out of date or out of touch. The internet has changed everything about the way people travel. Today it easy to find a blog written by tourists or residents who can give you a heads up about what to do and what to avoid doing. Now if you can access google you don't need anything except an iphone. On our blog youíll find links to some of the sources we read when we want to find out whatís happening. Thereís been a lot of interest in Merida by the international press since we moved here. The article written by David Keeps for Travel+Leisure magazine launched Urbano Rentals. Rick Bayless did a whole season on Yucatecan cuisine and Martha Stewart edited her way across the Yucatan last year. Shopping is getting better but it is still hard to avoid the tourist traps around the zocalo. Check out our shopping and market guides. Iíve written a couple of restaurant and food guides. Youíll find the links below to some of the best articles written on Yucatan. Younger people are moving to Merida from all over the world. They have opened new ventures from cultural centers to shops and restaurants. Expats are helping the local community fight AIDS and poverty. Now there is a green movement, organic market and animal shelters. Welcome to Merida!

        Culture Vulture

Here are the links and addresses of some of the cultural centers. If you want a yoga class or a writing workshop. See a documentary under the stars at LA68. Go to a trova concert at Olimpo. Invite 20 your friends to see the movie of your choice at Cairo Cine Cafe or go see a free movie at 7 every night. There is a free music or dance concert every night of the week in Merida. There are 3 contemporary art mueums and many galeries with events.

        Where to eat What

Here I have listed some of the best options for dining in each neighborhood of Meridaís Historic Center. Youíll also find links to the restaurant reviews of the Working Gringos and Los Dos Cooking School. For breakfast, believe it or not, I love the Hyatt. You can sample a lot of Mexican dishes, eat a plate of bacon and have lots of fresh juices and fruit. Sometimes I restrain myself and have huevros rancheros in the Santiago Market. For lunch I like the seafood places downtown or the home cooked meals at the concina economicas. At dinner youíll find the locals have abandoned centro to the tourists and expats. Some of the better restaurants are in the suburbs but I have listed your best options downtown too.


I grew up on a farm community in the middle of Texas where there were a couple of truck stops on the highway and a diner on main street. I worked in restaurants my 5 years at university ending up at a very posh French place that a young French man with more money than sense opened in Fort Worth. It was hard to go back home after that experience. I moved on to New Orleans where I worked in a posh French Quarter restaurant and then I retired. I spent the next 20 years between New York and Paris honing my eating skills but I never worked in a restaurant again. In New York I can give you a list of 20 excellent Mexican Restaurants. Even in Paris there were a dozen Mexicans who opened restaurants. In Merida thereís one tourist trap I havenít set foot in for 8 years and Fridaís. So donít think youíre going to be getting great Mexican food in Merida, you are not. Here is my blog where I review my favorite and my least favorite restaurants. I often think itís easier to have a good meal for $5 dollars in Merida than $50. And itís very easy to have a $50 meal.

        What Fresh Hell is This?

According to rumors and CNN you are going to die once you step off the plane in Mexico... You have a better chance of dying on your way to the airport if your coming from the USA. If you're coming from Louisiana you have a better chance of getting shot in church than you do in Merida. Swine flu? USA has a population 3 times larger than of Mexico. In Mexico we have had 82,000 cases of swine flu and the US has had 480,000 cases. So you're almost 6 times more likely to get swine flu if you stay home. According to the AOL Travel News article you might live after all... Merida has the highest rating for safety but OMG poor Mexico City... "No one thinks twice about visiting our nation's capital, and the same should go for Mexico's capital. In 2008, Mexico City had a homicide rate of nine for every 100,000 people, while Washington D.C. had a rate of more than 30 per 100,000 -- over three times higher." Turn off CNN and do some research. And if your watching FOX News then please DO stay home.

        Stop the Presses

A couple of years after moving to Merida I was asked to host David Keeps who was writing and article on Merida for Travel + Leisure magazine. He wrote this article over Christmas of 2003 and it appeared for Christmas of 2004. It was David who suggested we rent our extra house to tourists as the hotel situation in Merida was not great. So he is really the godfather of Urbano Rentals. Since then there have been too many articles written about Merida. I've collected some of the better ones and put them on a blog called Yucatan News. Here you'll find an article in the Los Angeles Times called "Paradise for Home Remodelers". An article from the New York Times that quotes the one expat's take on life in Merida..."We gossip and talk about things like where you can find Cheerios,"...I'm sure they do too. Someone please stop the presses!

        Hacienda Hopping

If you're own your way to Uxmal or Izamal you can stop off and have lunch at restored hacienda. It was hacienda dreaming that brought us here in the first place. You can easily combine a day of touring haciendas with colonial churches. You can throw in some of the smaller ruins or a cenote or cave on the side. A couple of hacienda's like Sotuta de Peon and Ake have working hennequen factories. Ochil has a hennequen museum. You can rent a luxury hacienda like Sac Chich or Petac. Or you can get married at a hacienda like San Jose or Temozon. If you see a big chimney in the middle of nowhere chances are you've found a hacienda. I just wish I'd found one 20 years ago when they were 5000 dollars instead of 5 million.

        Foodies In Yucatan If anyone can save Yucatecan Cuisine from it's own bad self it's Rick Bayless. Having lived for 6 years without PBS I thought I could live with out it but I guess I'll have to buy the DVD collection for season 5 Interspersed in every show are scenes of Rick making the dishes that he found in the Yucatan or that were inspired by a special ingredient (one show focuses on the spice pastes that are the base of the seasoning of the cuisine). These scenes are shot in Rickís home kitchen and garden in Chicago. Rickís clear explanations and the availability of recipes for all the dishes make it easy for viewers to make these dishes at home and experience the flavors of the Yucatan that Rick rhapsodizes about. One of Rickís favorite shows is the one where he builds a pit in his yard, along with the help of his 15-year old daughter Lanie, to prepare cochinita pibil, the Yucatanís most famous dish. After being inspired by seeing a cochinita pibil unearthed at a friendís house near Merida, Rick and Lanie return home, dig a hole in the ground in the yard, line it with bricks, build a fire in it and cook an achiote-marinated pig in it. They invite friends over to witness the unearthing of the pig and then to enjoy it with them at a fabulous party. This show, among all 13 shows that make up the 5th season of the series, clearly exemplifies Rickís passion for bringing the earthy, gutsy, delicious flavors of the Yucatan into the kitchens of fans of the show in the United States. What will the neighbors think when the people next door dig a pit in their backyard?


In 2001 we moved to the Yucatan without a friend or a plan. We still don't have a plan but we've become Yucatecan for sure. And we do have a friend or two. It's shocking how many friends of friends have started to buy houses here and suddenly their friends are buying houses too. It has kept us busy for the past 9 years. Too busy to travel except vicariously through our friends who go back and forth from out past lives and return to the Mayan underworld where we live today.

        Shopping Around for Somewhere to Shop?

Even after 9 years of living in Merida I'm addicted to shopping. For me its looking for the best olives or cheese, for you it will be the best hammock or hat. I "zen out" in the supermarket aisle not on the tropical isle. Our guest have had some real nightmare rip off stories which I'll relate in this blog. You need to educate yourself a bit before find yourself cornered. The best place for you to start is at the Casa de las Artesanias. It is the state run craft shop and there prices are correct. If you check things out here first you won't pay too much elsewhere. And there are no clothes or hammocks made from hennequen. If someone tries to sell you a hennequen hammock, walk. My advice is don't walk into any shop where there is someone standing outside begging you to come in. Avoid the shops when there is someone standing around passing out cards or fliers. But if you are looking for olives and cheese I'll give you some addresses for that too.

        Marketing in Merida

Here is our guide to super and not so supermarket shopping in Merida. If you're staying with Urbano Rentals you'll find the shops and markets nearest you listed. In general you'll need to go to several places to find all the ingredients if you have a specific recipe or menu in mind. I never find everything I'm looking for in one stop. There was a time when we could not get a decent loaf of bread or block of cheese but those times are long gone. Now we buy our fresh bread and locally made cheese at the Slo Food Market on Saturdays or LaBrea Bakery bread at Costco and there are many sources for good imported cheeses. Organic greens and veggies at La 68's saturday market or Superama on prolongation Montejo. Don't forget your basket.

        Travel + Leisure

This Travel +Leisure article came out in December of 2004 on Merida. A friend asked us to host David Keeps for 3 hours one morning for Hacienda Petac. It turned into 8 days, actually 10 days since he missed his plane. And that was not my fault!!! Because the article was about Christmas, David came for the holidays in December 2003. A lot has changed in 3 years. Many more of the colonial facades in the city have been restored. The downtown streets are being replaced with fake cobblestone [pressed pre fab concrete]. God forbid they should use the real cobblestone which is just lying under the asphalt. Rumor and the local paper, Diaro del Yucatan, say that they are going to be burying the electrical and cable wires soon. Hurrah! And alas, someone bought the bullfight bar and turned it into a nightmare tourist trap that seems to trap very few tourists indeed. Poke your head in and look at the decor anyway, then run. Nectar is still the best restaurant in town. David Keeps and I keep in touch and he threatens to come back this Christmas on his way to a yoga retreat in Tulum. And when YOU come to Merieda buy the damned hammock first so you don't miss flight home!

        Free AC & Museums

Until the new Museo del Mundo Mayo Museum opens on the last day of the world (just kidding) on 21 December 2012 you'll have to visit the Palacio Canton on Paseo Montejo to see a tiny part of the vast holdings of Mayan artifacts in the collection of Anthropology Museum. But there's more to Merida than Mayan Art. There is a thriving community of artist and artisans and 5 or 6 museums with temporary exhibitions and permanent collections. There's a museum of the history of the City in the Old Post Office by the central Market. The Casa de Montejo houses a new decorative arts museum with exhibition rooms for Mexican artists and crafts. And there's a craft and folkloric museum. There's a museum or gallery in almost every neighborhood and it's a great place to be in the heat of the AC.

        Barbie vs Hooters

It's not much fun to play spot the Republican in Merida anymore. They're not as scarce as they once were. Since the articles in Fortune, Financial Times and The New York Times there are a lot more of them coming down. I've boycotted Walmart for years because they are HUGE contributors to the Republican party and are the antithesis of everything I believe in. So recently I went over to to see who was giving what to whom. There were some surprises. Of course about the only airline you can fly on without contributing to Bush&Co. is Aloha Air and that won't get you here. Delta, Continental, Southwest & Northwest all contribute to the Repbulican Party. If there is a Blue Bank, Oil company, Pharmacutical company, Insurance company I did not see it. If you're shopping at Pier 1, Williams Sonoma, Safeway, Kroger, Office Depot, Home Depot you might as well write out a check to Tom Delay. If you consume Pepsi, Coke, Krispy Kreme then you have a big butt and you may as well be down at Hooter's, they are all on the same side as Diebold and Halliburton. What can you do? Order your guide books from Blue Barnes & Noble and not Red Amazon. Get you money out of Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo & don't use American Express. Choose Ralph Lauren over Perry Ellis. Neiman-Marcus not Nordstrom or Saks. LL Bean, J. Crew, GAP & Levi Strauss are all true blue. You'll lucky Republicans can keep shopping at Target, Sears, Penny's too but you'd better stay off ebay. Don't worry you can still go to Starbucks and use your Apple Computer as long as you use Google and not Yahoo. (note to self get off of Yahoo ASAP). Only Qualcom contributes more to the Democrats...Sprint, AT&T, Verizon are as Red as Heinz Ketchup! At least you can safely stay in any number of hotels and B&B's in Merida that are not contributing to the Republicans. But you can also stay at the Hyatt or Starwood who are safely on the blue side. Just don't send home a Halmark FedEx! Oh, and don't rent a Ford!

        Worst of Yucatan

It's not all sunshine and cheap real estate. Here I'll be scooping the poop, metaphorically speaking, on some of the worst things about the yucatan from not flushing the toilet paper to hammock hawkers.

        Day of the Dead in Yucatan

I tend to avoid crowds and had lived in Merida for 8 years before I experienced my first Hanal Pixan. When my friend from Kathleen arrived from London with her children we immediately went to the Ermita to see the alters there. The next day we went to the Zocolo at mid day and they were already dismantling the altars there. This year armed with my new camera I went early to the and that same night to the Zocalo to see them building the palapas there. Next morning at 8am I was back in the main square taking photos. It's an amazing experience and building my own altar was a cathartic experience. Life is death.

        Surf & Turf

The gulf coast of Yucatan is host all winter to migratory birds from Canada and the US. There are dozens of protected biospheres parks above sea level and below. While the Caribbean coast is the best place to see the underwater world the Island of Holbox is the place to swim with whale sharks from June til mid September. Celestun and Rio Logartos are the best places to see flamingos but you'll see flamingo all along the gulf coast in the brackish lagoons. I've never seen a puma, jaguar or ocelots in the wild but these endangered cats exist in the forests and the villagers still fear them and kill them when they cross paths. The reptiles you are most likely to encounter are the huge iguanas that hang out at the ruins or the geckos hanging out on the walls of your hotel room. If you are visiting Coba its well worth stopping at Punta Laguna to see the spider monkeys. In 2010 a new zoo is opening near Merida in the suburb of Caucel called Animaya to celebrate the bicentenial of the Mexican revolution. It will be a more "natural" environment for some of the animals who were cramped at the Centenario zoo on the edge of Merida's centro. Having screwed up my return flight recently from Tuxla I spent a couple of hours in a great zoo that featured only indigenous animals. Hopefully one day the zoo in Merida will have more of these curious creatures that we don't often stumble across.

        Yucatan Blogs & General Popo

Here are some useful blogs for tourists and residents who are interested in what's going on in Merida now. Yucatan Today has good maps for those moments when google fails you. Yucatan Living has the most update calender and useful articles in english. There are blogs on biking and nature and food. I've not included the blogs of the people passing through or the people who've come here to die...yet.


After the last turtle has made her nest and made tracks for the sea you'll be wanting your breakfast. Shambala is where we like to stay but there is no restaurant and even the breakfast is substandard, instant coffee? WHY Roberto??? So we usually go to Maya Tulum where it's fun to watch all the yoga students eating and not eating. They're all from NY and LA and they're all dazed and confused because they have not seen a blow dryer in 3 or 4 days. Actually we go there because the pancakes are good enough and the fresh fruit shakes are perfect. The service is very good too. For lunch Zama's is still a good place to go. It's always crowded. Does the wind always blow at Zama's at lunch time. I think it does. The appetizers are good. But, If you really want to eat go to Ana & Jose's. The seafood is the best here of anywhere I have been along the beach. Mezzanine is a newish Thai restaurant and tiny guest house. I'd love to believe the food is good and I have heard that it can be. Three times I have been there and I am sure the chef was sadly, not. The food was not good but I'll go back again. I want it to be good and after 4 years in Merida I am dying for something Asian. I'd stay at Mezzanine if I could but with only 2 or 3 rooms it's always booked. But for Dinner I am going to town. LA NAVE has the best Pizza outside of Rome and the first time I was there I did not have it. I've never made that mistake again. I always have a pizza and then decide whether to have another one or order something else. It's usually full of Italian fashionistas. Sometimes there is a model with them but most often not. I suspect the models are picking through a salad at Maya Tulum while the photographer and stylists are doing some serious eating at La Nave. My Dog Stirling snapped at the waiter at El Pequeno Buenos Aires. I don't know if he was protecting me or the Argentinian Mixed Grill of Angus Beef steaks, sausages and lobster. The waiter came back. The meal was great and hopefully they will let us back in. Stirling can stay in the car next time. Someday I'd like to stay at Boca Paila Camps in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. It's very Camp Beverly Hills. Last time I went it was too noisy on the beach side and they wouldn't show us a room on the lagoon side which is protected from the wind by the dunes. I'd stay there for sure. You sleep in deluxe tents pitched on platforms high above the sand and beach. The view from the top of the building the houses the restaurant and restrooms is the best in Tulum. And the beaches are more or less deserted this far down in peninsula. The most chic hotel is strangely in town. Latino is hidden one street east behind the main street. It's a touch of Playa del Carmen in Tulum. One touch is nice but lets not get take it a step further. If you like Playa del Carmen....please stay there.


The first time I went to Tulum was in 1995. I was ready to leave Paris after 15 years and looking for a place to be. I was in New York and my return flight to France was cancelled because of a blizzard that lasted 3 days. My best friend Anne and I got on one of the first flights out of town, we went to Tulum. There were only a hand full of hotels there then and we stayed in one that had only been open for moments. But there were endless beaches and not too many people. I met Josh a couple of years later and we started exploring Mexico in earnest. We'd always come back with things to sell at our store but what we were really doing is looking for an escape from the city. We stayed in some little cabana's on the beach for about $20. They were called the "baby whale", and they were on the exact spot that Anne and I had considered buying for 20k. We could not at that point imagine our urban selves as beach bums and on our next trip went to Patzcuaro and Oaxaca. Tulum was just a truck stop back then with women cooking on grills in their front yards for the drivers. Now the town has some excellent restaurants and the beach is a string of small boutique hotels and cabanas. Now that we live in Merida we go over to Tulum often. When we go we stay at Shambala Petit Hotel. A guy named Roberto bought the baby whale and painted the bright orange cabanas white. He left the interiors minimal and white too. On my 50th birthday in June we stayed in the last cabin before the beach. Early that morning about the time I was born 3.30 a.m. a giant turtle laid her eggs in the sand right in front of our cabin. I took this as an excellent omen. About a month later hurricane Emily passed through Tulum and destroyed my turtle nest but spared the hotel. Well the turtle will be back and so will I. But I still haven't figured out what the omen meant. Oh, why now? Because the ejido land between the town and the beach has now been sold to developers and soon hundreds of homes and condo's will spring up. Thousands of people will move in and Tulum will just be a nightmare. But for a little while longer it's still a dream..... UPDATE 2012 Josh and I just renovated a home in Sian Ka'an biosphere. Until the website is updated see the link above or contact us for details.

        WHEN IN ROME...

Which came first Cancun or Corona? I don't know and I don't care. I have been to neither since discovering the local brews Montejo and Negra Leon. Watching the Corona ad's alone is reason enough to never give another thought or penny to that skunky overly exported brew. The link above will take to you this guy from Houston who did go to Cancun and discovered our local Yucatecan brewed beer. He can actually write and spell better than me so I recommend you go read his review. Here is taste.... Negra Leon and Montejo are two beers from the Yucatan that are seldom discussed among beer connoisseurs, yet both are good, solid well-brewed lagers. Here's why... Whenever I travel anywhere, I always make it a point to sample the best of the local cuisine, and that means drinking beers and wines that I can't easily find outside their home turf. This year, I enjoyed a thanksgiving vacation to Cancun and nearby environs, and in this corner of the world, "local beer" means beers made at the old Yucateca brewery -- Negra Leon and it's younger brother, Montejo. Leon was first brewed in 1900. The beer is based on the Vienna amber style and is similar in flavor, body, and character to Dos XX Amber. I find Leon to be a little richer and bolder than Indio (another Vienna style amber lager from Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma), but still lighter in color and body than Modelo's flagship Vienna, Negra Modelo. Side by side, I find very little to differentiate a Leon from a Dos XX, which is a good thing since Dos XX already has a huge following and is generally acknowledged as a very good quality beer. Montejo was first brewed in 1960 and was named to honor Francisco de Montejo, the founder of the city of Merida. Montejo is a pilsner style beer that shares more in common with the all-malt light pilsners of the Netherlands than it does with the sometimes grainy tasting derivatives that are popular in the U.S. It is entirely possible that this beer is brewed using adjunct grains, but if they are used, the grain is very well handled since there is little in the flavor or body to signal its presence. Compared to other Mexican brands, it shares a similar firm malty tasting base that reminds me more of Bohemia than any other Mexican brand, though the hopping rate is definitely lower than that fine brew. A surprisingly good, very drinkable light lager.


Here are a few tips on how to buy a hammock and where to buy a hammock and how to say buzz off in spanglish when you've had it with the hammock hawkers in centro

        LAMBS & LIONS

Every time I drive through a village I am amazed to see the cats, dogs, chickens, goats and rabbits hanging out amongst one another in peace and harmony. Is it just to hot to eat one another or is this some sort of new eden? There is no humane society in Yucatan as far as I know. There is a great need for one and I have heard good things about these people who rescue and care for stray animals. Albergue Franciscano del Animal Desprotegido Take the Periferico north from the Cancun exit. Turn right at the Cholul exit, and the Albergue is on your left, across from the Modelo University. For more information, you can email Silvia Cortes at or call +52-999-948-3590. Update: Yucatan Living bless them have more info on animal rescue and the dog days of Yucatan.


If you are thinking about renting a bike in Merida and what fun it will be to whisk around town please get life insurance and name me as the beneficiary. At least if you are a pedestrian you'll be able to jump out of the way of on coming vehicles. Buses are a fine way to get around downtown. Most of them are empty and it's loads of fun to watch the drivers run down pedestrians and tourist in VW convertibles. There is nothing more entertaining than a nice old smoke spewing bus crossing paths with a family of 6 on a moped. It draws a crowd every time. Swallow your pride and take a buggy ride! Seriously, It's the law of the jungle here if it's bigger than you are it has the right-of-way! UPDATE: OCT 2007 For about a year now they have been closing off the street in front of my house in Ermita on Sundays to traffic for the bici ruta. A morning of pedestrian and bicycles only from Paseo Montejo through the center of town and down to Ermita. You can rent a bike at either end. I still see an accident on the corner of calle 66 & 75 at least once a week and it usually involves a car and a bike or a motorcycle. UPDATE: December 2007 Here I just ran into this blog about cycling around the Yucatan and by the gods if these oldsters can do it so can you. UPDATE: APRIL 2010 OMG-RIP Back in January I bought a stationery bike which I have been on exactly once for exactly 3 minutes. Then as I was wandering aimlessly through the Sears looking at gym clothing (which is as close to a gym as I ever get) I noticed a couple of bikes were 50% off. Half of my friends ride their bikes in town and they are still living and most of them are old enough to drop dead anyway. Recent trips to the mirror have convinced me that I'm old enough to die too and so... I bought 3 bicycles. When I did a little research at the cycling shops in town and then went back to Sears the bikes were 50% off + 20% off which means 60% off I guess but sounds more like 70%off and then when you convert the USD$ to the NMP$ well a bike cost a little more than a cafe creme at Charles de Gaulle and much less dinner for 2 at Rosas y Xocolate. So I've been zigzagging in and out of traffic for a couple of weeks and I love it. But just in case ignore the line at the end of my obituary and send flowers anyway...peonies or casablanca lilies.


Real Estate seems to be the most popular topic of conversation at any gathering of Expats in Merida. One never tires of surfing the real estate sites dreaming of a hut in the jungle, a hacienda or Colonial home in the historic center of Merida. One does tire of conversations about cement, paint and plumbing however. A lot of our guests are here looking at houses and ask for recommendations about agents and architects. We've been involved in buying and selling more than 20 houses in Merida over the past 6 years. As a local resident it's sometimes possible to find a 'deal' before an agent or speculator picks it up. But over the past couple of years I've still found good buys with several agents. My favorite people to work with are Keith Heitke & Eric Partney at Mexico International and Gabriella Isaacs at Real Estate Yucatan. Here is a link to the houses we have for sale in Merida at the moment. Some of them are houses we rent that are restored and some of them are unrestored.


This book by Karen Witynski & Joe Carr has become the bible of home owners and potential home owners in Merida and beyond. In fact the kitchen of Josephina Larrian and her architect husband Salvadore Reyes Rios p. 124 has spawned dozens of copies. No doubt there are even copies of this kitchen on Central Park South and Rue des Cherche-Midi by now. But the point is it is a beautiful book and essential for reference if you are planning on buying or house or visiting a hacienda in the Yucatan. You can stay in many of the haciendas that are featured like Petac or San Jose Cholul. Dine on the terrace of Hacienda Xcanatun p. 71. It is one of the two best restaurants in town. Well almost in town. And since I know you are going to ask... the floor tiles can be made to order at the factory in Ucu and the kitchen and bath tiles come from Barro y Barro. You can find this other books by the same authors from Amazon.

        Merida's Colonial Churches

The Cathedral in Merida is Mexico's oldest with construction beginning in 1651. San Idelfonso was constructed from the ruins of the Mayan City of T'ho. It sits on the main square and is the starting point of most visits to the city. You can easily see a dozen of these churches within a 20 block area of the Centro Historico. For the past 9 years I've lived just off the park beside the Church of Ermita de Santa Isabel. The last stop on the original Camino Real to Campeche the Hermitage today is pretty much unchanged.

        CON SAL

Salt is a basic human requirement; most people requiring approximately 4 grams per day. It is estimated that Tikal's population of roughly 45,000 consumed approximately 131.4 tons of salt annually. Not only is it required in diet, but it can also be used as a preservative. During the Classic and Post Classic Periods small island populations on Caye Ambergris and Isla Mujeres traded salted fish. An exchange relationship between island communities and the mainland was critical because these geographically isolated groups were incapable of sufficient subsistent agriculture. Salt was also frequently used for ritual and medicinal purposes. Remnants of large religious shrines and temples in Emal on the Yucatan Peninsula suggest the surrounding salt beds were considered sacred. It is also believed that salt was commonly used during childbirth and death. A midwife would offer salt to both parents at birth and a saline solution was sprinkled throughout the house following the death of a family member. In the Yucatan village of DzitŠs, Robert and Margaret Redfield witnessed salt being prescribed for epilepsy and honey and salt for severe birth pains, suggesting that similar practices may have been evident in ancient periods. The Maya concept of hot-cold and its relationship to illness apply as well. Anthony Andrews suggests that salt was considered a "cold" medicine and often used to cure fevers. A controversial issue among experts is whether salt was used as a currency in ancient times. The fact that many other parts of the world were using salt as a form of currency supports this concept. However, Spanish reports during the conquest suggest that it was more an item of small-scale barter, rather than a major monetary unit. The Yucatan coast is abundant in salinas, or coastal salt flats. The dry season (January to May) allows for inland saline-filled swamps to recede, leaving residual salt-encrusted mud. It is estimated that 20,000 metric tons could be yielded annually. The central area, particularly the Peten region, contained little to no salt sources. The need for salt and the abundance of the resource in the Yucatan prompted rigorous trade. so have the Margharita with salt for sure! Site Meter l