Enjoy the Sun and Relaxation
We recently spent 2.5 weeks staying in my friend’s incredible Progreso Yucatan beach house recovering from major shoulder surgery. This is the only way to recover. If you have to convalesce you’ve got to do it in Progreso Yucatan.
Besides the beautiful weather and beaches, my wife loves the fact that she does not need to cook. Each morning she would run to the local little restaurants and Cocina Economicas (Economic Kitchens). These kitchens cook large quantities of regional foods and meals and locals and vacationers go there in the mornings and pick up their meals for the day.
Each has its own specialties. One that my wife likes is owned by a fisherman’s family and specializes in incredible seafood choices. Another specializes in regional foods. When we’re in the mood for fresh deep fried fish we make a run for Lupitas where she’ll fry up her husband’s daily catch right in front of us. A lot of those fish don’t make it home.
Our days always began with Salbutes and Panuchos. A chicken, turkey or pork taco made on hand-made tortillas and along with, always a must, Empanadas. Empanadas are deep fried corn tortillas folded over pork burger. We topped them off with a tomato sauce, shredded cabbage and, of course, Chile Habanero. What a great start to a day.
El Toro Restaurant: a Local Favorite
If the mood struck to go out for lunch we tended to go to El Torro”s restaurant which is where all of the locals go, always a good indicator of where to eat.
El Torro is nothing to look at but the food is incredible as well as the service and prices. It’s a few blocks away from the beach and off the beaten path, so few tourist go there, but it’s heaven.
For dinner, and sometimes lunch, Buddy’s Bar and Restaurant was always a great choice when we wanted a little back home camaraderie. Buddy’s is a Palapa/thatched roof style bar and is on the beach/Malecon (Boardwalk) and is the preferred hangout for both Americans and Canadian expats in Progreso Yucatan. The people are open and friendly and enjoy talking about their experiences and are a great source for information.
Street Vendors on the "Malecon"
The Malecon/Boardwalk is teaming with people and vendors. My wife packed little more than bathing suits and shorts and went on a shopping spree on the Malecon. The vendors sell everything from beach ware to jewelry and just about anything else you need for beach living. What she couldn’t find there she found at the Progreso Yucatan open air market where, at the minimum, she walked out with a bag full of short bread cookies called polvorones or corazoncitas.
Progreso Yucatan has become a major port of call for the Carnival Cruise Ships Progresso. When the ships come in the party begins! Since the pier is about 5 miles out, the passengers are bussed in and dropped off at the tourist market that offers all of the touristy items they would be looking for. I enjoy going there because that is where I can find the 3XL t-shirts I need.
No need to worry about exchanging money. They will gladly take American dollars as well as Mexican Pesos. If you prefer to pay in Pesos, there are several banks and money exchange houses in Progreso Yucatan. ATM’s usually give the best exchange rate although there is a fee along with the transaction so we tend to make large withdrawals at the beginning of our trip to avoid too many charges.
Eat on the Beach
After the passengers finish with the market they walk one block to the Malecon where the partying begins. Once they make it past the vendors they head to the many thatch roofed bars or to the palapas on the beach where the waiters cross the street and wait on them with both inexpensive food and drink and enjoy the clean clear waters, get a massage and enjoy the tropical heat and the refreshing breeze coming off the water. Don’t forget to tip the waiters well since they usually only work for tips.
One of the newer, and nicer, changes in the local laws allows the public to consume beer while walking on the Malecon up until 7:00 pm. Don’t worry! The fun is good clean fun and the police presence assures that it stays that way.
Around 3:00 and 4:00 the passengers return to their ship and things settle down a bit. By now the locals are beginning to get off work and cruising the Malecon is beginning in full swing. Cruising the Malecon consists of walking, in cars and jeeps and motorcycles. It’s bumper to bumper. The bars are hopping, the restaurants are busy and everyone’s having good clean fun. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see entire families walking along with their children and grandparents.
Last, but not least, you can grab a taxi for the thirty minute trip into
where every night there are festivities at one of the neighborhood squares. Don’t miss Domingo en Merida/Sunday in Merida. This is when they literally shut down the downtown area for blocks to traffic and the bars and restaurants set up tables in the streets. The bands are playing and there is literally dancing in the streets.
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