With the little-known state of Campeche currently on a pandemic green light, there is perhaps no better time for a short, personal and socially-distanced visit to its exquisite UNESCO-recognized capital.
CAMPECHE Mexico – The city of Campeche, smaller and more compact than Merida, and without its attendant traffic problems and crowds, is a unique colonial space, and one with plenty of options of things to see and do in a bio-secure context, given our Covid times, without doubt enough to fill a unique weekend in what is by some distance the most beautiful city in the south-east of Mexico.
Despite featuring as a New York Times Place to Visit in 2018, the crowds never really materialized in Campeche, even before the pandemic, an absence which is really more a byproduct of its geographical location than anything else, but a visit by the intrepid traveler or the Merida weekender repays in spades, with an array of authentic, real-world options for the visitor.
For accommodation within the city look no further than the amazing Casa Balche (corner of 10 y 57), set on balconies overlooking the main square. Until recently a boutique hostel, in pandemic times Balche now only offers stunning private rooms in a setting which could not be more central. Independently owned, this local spot would set the traveler back a pretty penny in any other city, but in Campeche its rates are distinctly affordable with the finest room in the house coming in at only 850 pesos per night, all others at 650 pesos for a couple sharing.
Only a block from Balche, on everyone’s favorite Calle 59 – formerly Calle America – which links the Land and Sea Gates in the walled city, are various options of inspiration to foodies and drinkers.
In the former case, Cafe Luan (corner of 59 and 14) has increasingly set up a reputation for itself as a paradise of local cuisine with a twist, but not of nouveau minimalist portions, instead hearty, tasty and filling plates that cater to taste buds and belly alike.
Right next door, the best spot for a drink in town is Homero Taberna, with its wide array of artisanal brews and live music and affable owner Lalo who will give you the best tips and advice for your stay. Even better, both Luan and Homero’s have expansive seating areas to ensure you can sit well away from the next person during these Covid times, added to which all these businesses actively participate in Campeche’s Empresa Verde scheme, so you can be sure not only that your money is having a genuine local impact but that your visit is supporting values-led enterprises with socio-environmental focus.
Although Campeche’s famous local sustainability market the Mercado Verde was forced to close during the height of the pandemic, it is now reopening in a controlled setting just outside the city walls and a short walk from the Plaza Principal – for latest on timings and location visit https://www.facebook.com/MercadoVerdeCampeche/
What’s more, the Mercado Verde is now part of the Plastic Oceans International Blue Communities initiative which works with ocean-focused spaces to further sustainable and environmentally responsible living in general, but also with a particular focus on the oceans. For visitors wanting to reduce their own plastic footprint, the Cero Basura Campeche stall in the Mercado Verde is a must to stock up on resources which help to prevent having to consume plastics when going about our daily lives. Cero Basura’s own Adrian Quintana is also a fabulous source of information for the latest in local environmental events and initiatives, including special (socially-distanced) weekly live music events in Campeche’s very own secret garden, El Campanario.
In these curious times which have allowed us to rethink our lives, perhaps there has never been a better time to travel independently to those quiet, amazing, less frequented places that were always just out of sight of the trodden travel path, and no place fits the bill better than the stunning city of Campeche.
For Times Media Mexico
Subhashis Basu in Campeche
The Yucatan Times