Balance July 2018 - 60

TEQUILA SUNRISES
Wade into the
pink lakes of
Las Colorados in
Río Lagartos

Spanish colonial architecture in
Yucatan state capital Mérida

Mérida HISPANIC HISTORY

Isla del Colibri, one of
many colourful places to
eat and drink in Holbox

Isla Holbox WHITE SAND & WHALE SHARKS
Like Cancún, Holbox (pronounced
'hole-bosh') sits on a spit with mile
after mile of white sand beach and a
wide, brackish lagoon separating it
from the mainland. That's where the
similarities end. A largely unspoilt
wilderness, tourism is confined to
the small town's car-free sandy roads
and care-free sandy visitors pootling
around by golf cart. The gently
shelving shore, warm calm waters
and steady on-shore
breeze make it the
ideal place to learn
to kite-surf, or drift
about in a novelty
inflatable,
drink in hand.
Surprisingly for
a nature reserve,
Holbox is a graffiti
mecca. Almost every
building boasts a bright
and brilliant mural because
in 2014, street artists from around the
world gathered here for Mexico's first
ever International Public Art Festival
and couldn't resist leaving their mark.
Holbox clearly left a mark on them, as
they keep coming back.

60

WHERE TO STAY The Dream
Beachfront Hotel is typically
laid-back Holboxian with simple,
comfortable rooms set around two
tempting pools. Guests snooze in
hammocks slung between coconut
palms, big floppy butterflies flutter by
and nothing else happens. Which is
exactly how we like it.
WHAT TO DO Holbox is one of
the few places you can tick 'swim
with a whale shark' off your
bucket list. The annual
arrival of these gentle
giants coincides with
hurricane season, so
don't risk incurring
mother nature's
wrath by being
bothersome to the
biggest fish in the sea.
WHAT TO EAT La
Isla del Colibri is an exlobster fisherman's boatshed
painted pink and mint and filled
with folk art, frescos and portraits
of Mexican heroine, Frida Kahlo.
They serve homestyle classics,
good coffee and divine melon
liquados (juicy milkshakes).

BA LA N CE July 2018

The administrative and cultural capital of
Yucatan, Mérida's grand city centre of imposing
university buildings, museums and cathedrals
was built by successive colonial powers,
but is now home to a predominantly Mayan
population. Tree-lined squares play host to
chess tournaments, student protests, amorous
couples and al fresco dining options.
WHERE TO STAY Mérida has myriad hotels,
hostels and homestays to suit all tastes and
budgets, but if it's understated luxury you're
after, head 40 minutes south west. Chablé,
a former haçienda considerately converted
into one of the most beautiful wellness resorts
in Mexico, is also home to the world's largest
collection of rare tequilas and mezcals.
WHAT TO DO Avoid the midday heat
and Mérida is the perfect city for mindful
meandering, boasting sights, sounds and
smells that will stay with you forever. It's also
the perfect jump-off point for pilgrimages to
pinkness. An hour west is Celestún, a protected
lagoon festooned with huge flocks of flamingos,
and one hour north east, you can bathe in the
rose-coloured salt lakes of Rio Lagartos.
WHAT TO EAT Cochinita Pibil, an aromatic
amber stew of slow-cooked pork that drips from
freshly baked corn tortillas topped with pickled
vegetables. A vegan version made with jackfruit
is harder to find but worth searching out.
TREAT YOURSELF The spa at Chablé is a
unique and unforgettable experience. Every
treatment starts with a visit to a Mayan
apothecary to select botanicals to be burnt
during your blindfolded shamanistic ceremony
inside a conch-shaped chamber, echoing with
chants and cymbals. Treatments take place
in glass-walled private rooms overlooking the
resort's own jungle-draped cenote. B

PHOTOGRAPHY: ROB DALY FOR THEPERFECTHIDEAWAY.COM, SHUTTERSTOCK

MEETS MODERN MAYA



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance July 2018

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