We visited Merida while in Mexico. We went because we thought for sure we’d love it. Everyone said we would– everyone said that we’d fall in love with the city and not want to look back. Every person online who I ever saw visit this city, said it was *a dream*. They talked about the magic of the city– and we thought, “let’s plan a longer stay in Merida, because this for sure will be the next place we will fall in love with.”

As much I had hoped an anticipated a deep affection, we didn’t fall in love with Merida. For us, there was no romance or even a lingering lust feeling. For us, Merida was a familiar city with a fiery heat in the air, a wear and tear on the face of every person we passed, with the hustle and daily grind of contemporary city life.

I always hate to visit a place and not fall in love. My own personal guilt for not loving a space loved by others. But feelings on spaces are so personal. What one person loves the other person might hate. And while we in no way hated Merida, it wasn’t a city for us. I think, without saying anything, we could all feel it the minute we entered– with the face of concern as we drove into the city. But with a route and schedule in place, we pushed forward and decided to make the best out of our time in Merida.

We had made a decision to rent a larger space with a pool during our stay in Merida. This turned out to be our saving grace. While we did attempt to explore the city most days, we were lucky enough to have a beautiful space to relax in when the idea of the city heat and traffic just seemed too tiring. Especially since I was working my way through whatever my body was fighting with that week.

We made our way to the big city market only one time in our trip. It was on the first day, and left with a few bunches of bananas and some other fruit, but not much more. While we normally fall head over heels for the center markets in cities, something just felt off here. The next day we drove out to the the larger grocery store for our shopping– something we almost never do while traveling.

We stocked up on all the basic necessities for cooking at home– which turned out to be a really good idea, as even though Merida is a very large city, the food options at restaurants seemed very limited for us. There were days we’d drive thirty minutes to an hour for what felt like a wild goose chase to get to the other side of the city– and find, well, not much.  And so we cooked and ate our meals at home. And we were all very happy and grateful to be able to do this. Six days in a city and it felt more and more like home— a trying to find enjoyment and pleasure in simple living in a beautiful space.

Marlowe did not have any complaints about being mostly homebound in Merida. She’s a homebody in general and quickly made her temporary room her own. Each morning she made her bed and put her two stuffed animals together to sit there. She kept a pile of books bedside and happily read most of her days— when not enjoying the chilly pool with Alex.

Healthy, delicious food is not something we found in Merida. But we did find icecream… and nobody complained about that, haha.

I think she sat in every chair available to her, re-reading each Harry Potter book and a collection of Mexico books left in the space.

On the few days we did explore the city, I didn’t photograph much. We enjoyed the Mayan Mundo museum a lot. And some parts of the city were pretty too. But overall, I feel like Merida is one of those places fashion bloggers /instagrammers visit just for photo content. Fly in, stay at a scenic hotel, take a few styled photos, and say, “Merida is gorgeous!” without really ever stepping out into the real living breathing working part of the city. There are a million ways to travel, and i’m not in no way knocking a scenic hotel getaway– those can be relaxing and needed. But I do have issues with people visiting locations specifically for photos and not for experience and culture.

I dont know, without getting too ranty, I want to say that: I feel like there is a responsibility that needs to happen when discussing travel on the internet. Without a doubt, travel is important. Not just for the person traveling, who is learning from cultures, but also for the place and the people you’re visiting. Tourism is the number one income for most places in the world, so to say that tourism is important is an understatement really. But the types of travel we partake in is even more important. And I think it’s careless and mindless for people to visit locations to create photo content.

Visit a place, culture, it’s people, it’s markets, and more, and take photos– a million photos and more of your experiences and moments spent, not just your pretty props. Always and forever in this space, live first, photograph second. I’m not against taking a moment to set up a photo or a tripod if no one else is around (I want photos with the all of us, not just me!) but we live first, always.

And I see tons of bloggers taking photos of people — people as photo props. And I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but even if you pay someone (which I know many people do), there is something that still just rubs me wrong about that.

And so while Merida has a lot of charm and history of it’s own. It wasn’t for us. Again, there was nothing specifically wrong with it, but it was a busy city, that often just felt like the Spanish neighborhoods in Miami. We could have driven less than an hour to see and experience similar things. Or maybe the city was just too big– maybe we didn’t see enough of it. I don’t know. It has a list of good and bad like any place in the world, but we didn’t fall head over heels with the city, like we had been told we would.

But thats okay– we searched for magic from time to time anyway. On a sunday we found a local dance party on an outdoor stage. Marlowe and I were obsessed. I don’t know another 7 year old that would ask to sit in the outdoor 95+ degree heat to watch a crowd of people dance. But she did. And I did not refuse. With intense sweat dripping down our bodies, we sat and watched the dancers impressively dance.

We also visited a local market for gifts for family. And had lunch out in town (at a place not worth recommending). But mostly walked to see what could be found. Our main transport during travel is our feet. Little miss Marlowe can get tired of it pretty easily, but Alex and I could and would walk for days.

We spent uninterrupted family time here. We enjoyed a quite space and photographed some of it. And we did find a lot of design inspiration here. I’ve never been afraid of color, you guys know this. But this trip through the Yucatan opened Alex’s eyes to design with more color. When we were painting another wall green in our home this week, I asked, “but when I mentioned painting this wall green before, you said it would be too much, but now you want it green. What changed?” He said, “And then I went to Mexico” — Mexico brought the color out of Alex and I’m not mad about it one bit.

We had been hoping to paint the house pink for a few years now and this trip definitely confirmed, pink will be in our homes future.

I dont know, I’ve been struggling with a lot of my own thoughts and ideas lately. Things I was once comfortable with, feel uncomfortable now. Things I liked before, seem so frivolous now. I’m always struggling to find my place in this contemporary world. Even coming home, I’m fine here, but I’m wondering if I’m doing a disservice to Marlowe by having her back in the everyday in and out constant space and comfort of our home.

Because while we may not have fallen in love with every place we visited in Mexico, we did learn and grow in each location we visited. Merida was pretty. And even if we had gotten out and into the city every single day,  I’m sure Merida had and has so much more to offer than we ever could have seen in the six or so days that we were there. The people have stories to the tell, the buildings have secrets inside of them, and there are parts of the city that come alive that I will never get to know. And I’m learning to be okay in not being able to see it all, not having to love it all, and just enjoying what I can, where I can.

Merida, you were okay. Thanks for giving me a space to grow for a few days.


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  2. I totally get this! We’ve visited a few places that people have absolutely loved, but just didn’t click with us at all, like Amsterdam. I guess like you said, if you’re only visiting for photos then it’s great, but if you really want to experience a place then it can be totally different.
    It’s a shame that you didn’t like it as much as you were expecting to though, but by the sounds of it you still managed to make the most of it and enjoy some family time together.
    xo April | April Everyday

  3. I love reading this, because then I feel that I am not so alone in my thoughts. You know, I think I’m crazy hahaha and I see you and I feel we’re both crazy. Sure, this is not so bad.

    I hated California, now I like it a lot more than I expected, but I don’t really feel a “click” to want to stay here forever, you know? although everyone hates me for saying this but I’m sorry, everyone is looking for different things.

    Kisses and hugs, Mexico was amazing for you, a lot of learning and many feelings. I love you guys!!!! and do not forget when you come to California you have to send me a msg!

  4. Catherine

    This is such a thoughtful post and I love your following your blog. As a fellow Floridian I completely agree that the reality of living here is a far cry from vacationing here. My experience as a grad student down in Boca Raton was hugely different from someone visiting Palm Beach on vacay. Now we’re up in Daytona (eek) and when we moved here (for work) EVERYONE would say “This is a wonderful place to raise children!” I heartily disagree and we are trying to get ourselves back up to the Lowcountry of South Carolina where we are from ASAP to raise our four children among culture and our roots. I know people who LOVE it here in central Florida and would never leave and I’ve never felt like I could stay here forever. Anyway, sorry for the ramble. I think sometimes we are expected to love a place because “everyone does” while we are traveling and that’s just not always the case. I’d take London over Paris any day 😛 – but take me back to Charleston to stay forever and ever. xo

  5. Hi Drea
    Just curious, i have a 18 yr old daughter (inexperienced traveler) who wants to go on a trip…wondering if you have a place you would recommend that’s fairly safe, easy to get around & wouldn’t need a vehicle? Love your blog, thoughts & your sweet family.

    • You know, this might not be the expected response, but definitely Guatemala– specifically Antigua. She’ll need a ride from the airport into the city (about a 45 minute drive), but once there– it’s all by foot (or tuk tuk if she wants). It’s very safe — Marlowe and I walked around by ourselves day and night without any problems whatsoever. And as far as getting into the city, she can book a ride directly with a hotel she stays with– pricier but guaranteed safe. Just dont let her do the volcano hike and you wont have to worry! Guatemalans are seriously the nicest people I’ve met EVER. If she even looks lost for a second, someone will walk up and ask her if she needs directions 🙂

  6. I experienced Merida from a whole different vantage point. (I stayed with a host family while on a mission trip in the Yucatán.) And while I enjoyed my time there, my experience was fully of culture and people, and unfortunately of poverty. I didn’t even venture to the so-called tourist areas. And I was surprised to see that people had told you Merida was the city you would fall in love with (from a tourist perspective).

    • I think thats the thing– most of the people who oooooh and awww about it, stay in the nice hotels and hardly leave them other than to go to another nice hotel for some (not of the culture) dinner. We stayed more in the suburban area, with real homes and locals around. It was nice, but not the Merida everyone photographs– which is what we typically try to do anyway when traveling. But the local part and the tiny bit of tourist area we visited, we felt super indifferent about.

  7. I really did not love Paris and I realize that most people don’t agree with me but I can’t help it! I loved some of the museums and the butter was top notch, but the culture … I just didn’t get into it. I am just not into French culture, food, any of it. And I have a lot of guilt about feeling this way since 99% of people seem to think Paris is the most wonderful city on Earth.

    • you know, it’s funny because I went into Paris thinking I would not like it at all! And I ended up really liking it! Like, even Alex was surprised by me liking it. But I do! I dont know how much I would love the rest of Europe though, probably not much? But I have no idea. I’d give it a thumbs up, but I dont want to move there either 😉

  8. Samantha

    Hi Drea,
    This post hit home with me. Last year I moved to a very tourist-y town in northern Michigan, and frankly I cannot wait to leave. A childhood vacation spot, with a beautiful harbor view, Mackinac Island, and plenty of unique boutiques and eateries, I thought I would love it. I moved on illusion and ill research. The town is close-minded, uncultured, and only has life from the end of May to early August. But everyone else still loves it (because they only come in the summer and eat tons of fudge and ice cream). It’s northern Michigan: it’s difficult to find vegetarian, let alone vegan, food, and everyone loves hunting and smoking meat. All in all, It’s the least ideal place to live. But people always tell me, “you live in the most beautiful place! Love it! Enjoy it!” And I couldn’t disagree more!

    • yep, I have that problem all the time. people thinking im loving in a dream paradise because I live in florida– sure there are some perks, but it’s different if you come for a week vs living here full time. but people wont understand unless they live themselves… and even if they do, we’re all so different in what we want!