Playing Pirates in Campeche

cannon at Campeche

We didn’t know what to expect going in to Campeche. It’s on the coast to the southwest of Merida and we planned a day trip from Merida. Campeche is known as “The Walled City” for the stone wall 30-feet high and 10-feet thick built around the perimeter to keep out pirates. Apparently everyone with a parrot and eye patch had sacked the place for 200 years and the citizens were about sick of it.

The wall now exists just in large sections. Tim, Eric and I paid 10 pesos a piece to climb in one of the baluster to the top and then we were able to walk along the top of the wall for the length of it — at least 10 city blocks. We started at Puerta de la Tierra, The Land Gate. Looking through the Land Gate you can see to the Sea Gate, Puerta del Mar on the other side.

On one section of wall was a hidden little stone toilet that we all tried to fit ourselves into. I can imagine many Spanish practical jokes taking place here for some reason.

CampecheFrom the top of the wall we were surprised to see that many of the cute colorful houses on the street were actually just false fronts. Behind the fronts, what used to be colonial homes were now jungles filled with stray cats and dogs.

Once off the wall, we went into the little pirate museum, which was huge photos with numbers and a 40 peso audio tour. We weren’t inclined to pay for the audio so just looked at the pictures and were kind of in the dark. They did have some cool old guns and an iron maiden, though, which perked us up and made us all do a Beavis and Butthead headbang — ok, that was just me.

It was one of the hotter days — about 87 and 200 percent humidity — but we pressed on to the Sea Gate across the city.

Now that we were on the water we wanted to see the gulf. After a lunch of some very good tacos, we walked to what we thought was the beach. In this part of the city it was just a big sea wall. A very 80s pastel sculpture of several gates (I think the same sculpture is in front of Santa Monica Place mall) was on the sea wall. Also, oddly, the sea wall had great free high-speed wifi. It seems even mermaids have IPods now.

Near the Sea Gate is the Museum of Maya Architecture, which we all really enjoyed. It housed the best-preserved Mayan writings I’ve seen yet. For once we didn’t need the “key” they put next to the sculptures pointing out where the face and other things are on it.

Super Mario in CampechePlaza de Independencia is the center of Campeche and a short hop from the Sea Gate. Sidewalks criss-cross the square and for Day of the Dead they had set up striking life-sized muertos at each entry. Eric was very interested in a cardboard version of Super Mario with a giant controller some people were setting up nearby.

Behind paper Super Mario, we find a tiny Italian espresso bar where we all ordered coffee and were standing around drinking it when one of us discovered a beautiful courtyard with tons of tables behind. One wall had a cascade of bright red flowers and we watched a hummingbird go from flower to flower until he zipped off.

The final corner of the city had a very old church and a folk art museum that was unfortunately closed, so we taxied back to the bus station and then home to Merida.

– Rachel

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