Upon arriving in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, you are immediately taken in by a uniquely contrasting society. A developing country that became independent from France in 1960, blessed with amazing sites, cuisine, customs and history, yet with its fair share of struggles in building a robust economy for its people. The city of Dakar is home to a beautiful coastline with a historical role in what is known as the African Diaspora…..
The magic of opening a door that could lead to something entirely different never escapes me and is why I am so fascinated by the architectural designs of doors from all over the world. I am drawn by the intricacies of both new and older colonial style doors on homes, churches and buildings. In Mexico, doors represent both protection and pride as well as an invitation to come in. Walking through Merida’s streets photographing so many captivating doors, I could not help wandering about the history and cultural elements that built this unique craftmanship…
Africa, the mother continent of the human race where the first human skulls were discovered. A continent so misunderstood, yet rich in its history and culture as it merged with its many colonizers. Its vast resources, its people and natural beauty are unmistakably one of mystery and exoticism. A place so captivating in furthering our exploration and understanding of our humanity. So fortunate to have visited Morocco, Senegal, and Ghana — three very distinct countries that make up the 54 that represent Africa. Fourteen days later, there are too many experiences and discoveries to share. Here is my best shot at it…
First stop in Morocco is the city of Casa Blanca; this country’s economic and business capital. Upon entering the city of Casa Blanca, all those romantic notions and imagery of an ancient city from watching the movie (Casa Blanca) immediately disappears. This city is a powerhouse, a huge metropolitan center similar to any urban American or European city with its fair share of traffic jams and pedestrians. Much less exotic than some of its sister cities, yet worthy of a visit even if you don’t get to ride a camel. Here’s why….
If you are a lover of architecture, an architect or maybe an urban planner, you will easily fall in love with Merida’s 18th century colonial homes and buildings heavily influenced by both the Moorish and Mediterranean designs of that period. One of Merida’s most pleasing attributes is the preservation and restoration of what remains of a once colonial empire with a dark past. A real estate bonanza for those who seek to retire in a foreign country or invest. It certainly crossed my mind….
Somewhere in the world, the harvesting of grapes is happening. In the USA, just about every state has vineyards that make for a great opportunity to visit with friends and enjoy the tasting of wines, whether it’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel or Riesling. I personally lean more toward a robust, dry red. This is my third visit to the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York to drink wine and enjoy the area’s rustic scenery and it never disappoints. Actually, there is more than just tasting wine that makes this region attractive for a long weekend visit with friends….
If you travel to Merida or through the Yucatan Peninsula, you learn quickly about the role of haciendas and their contributions to the world. The architecture of Mexican haciendas, along with the Mayan culture and Yucatan’s natural resources, is both captivating and wondrous. Their historical past in the early 1900s and restored beauty are unquestionably intriguing and worthy of a visit. Here’s why….
I arrived in Merida for the first time for a 10-day visit to connect with a friend and to venture on my own. Driving from the airport to my destination, you get to experience a hidden gem of an old colonial city that has been through its fair share of economic struggles and is slowly becoming a place that is timeless and exceptionally gifted. This is a seven-storytelling series on the magic of Merida, Mexico rated as one of the best cities to travel to in 2022.
In Merida, there are tours to reach many of the Yucatán cenotes within an hour’s drive. I had planned to go to at least two cenotes, although I only managed to get to one. My friend highly recommended the Hacienda Mucuyche Cenote, which did not disappoint. Mucuyche is one of the most developed cenotes for tourism, having everything from a gift shop to a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool with lockers and many other amenities. Frankly, done of that matters once you climb down and you come face to face with the mystery, magic and beauty of this natural pit or sinkhole formed from the collapse of limestone bedrocks. Once you are in the water, you are dazzled, even spellbound, by the colors and the sparkles of the cave and the water. Doing this one time is just not enough….
There are over 200 archaeological ruins throughout the Yucatán peninsula. In close proximity to the city of Merida, there are at least four Mayan ruins that you can do a day trip. The Mayapán ruins are less than an hour from Merida and are pretty impressive, as it was once considered the capital center of Mayan civilization in all of Yucatan. The ruins are quite extraordinary, allowing you to visualize what this community looked like in its heyday and to experience how Mayan culture persists to this day….
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