Published On: Mon, Feb 15th, 2016

Merida feels like home to this world traveler

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Three key ingredients make up charming places – People, pride, and respect. In the past thirty days, I have found myself in the Yucatán, Dominican Republic, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and the Super Bowl. Alluring with the promise of everything to come, the Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, and Maui were all incredible adventures. Calendar perfect photos taken from each of these locations show off their unique features and inviting atmosphere. 

Outstretched and angled in various ways, the palm trees lining the beaches of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic are picture perfect and indigenous to the area. A rendezvous in Spanish speaking Punta Cana is filled with warm sun kissing your skin, water sports, and dining experiences such as duck confit.

Turquoise waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands tell a different story. Sipping black coffee on the bow of a boat, sea turtles flirting from the water and dolphins breaching in the dance birth of a baby porpoise. Snorkeling adventures include manta rays skillfully playing hide and seek on the sandy ocean bottom floor with breathtaking views of open water, and a spectacle of colorful fish. 

Merida's Casa Montejo. (PHOTO: Mandy Allfrey)

Merida’s historic Casa de Montejo. (PHOTO: Mandy Allfrey)

Majestic mountains filled with lush green landscape and waterfalls, and hint-of-brown colored sand make up the island of Maui. As humpback whales breach and arch their massive tails into the warm salty waters of the Pacific Ocean, it left a feeling as though I was part of a National Geographic documentary. Farm fresh, locally grown food and freshly caught fish completed the Maui experience at the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour dinner event. The culinary experience and the blow your mind views of Maui, unimaginable. 

Soaring through the clouds to each tropical destination had me questioning what it was about each location that felt different. Maui offered charm in the authenticity in reflection of culture, and is a place many call home. St. John, a favorite of the Virgin Islands, left me sun-kissed, and the Dominican Republic created many wonderful memories.  Thousands of travelers from all over the world visit these destinations every year. These islands captured my heart, and yet somehow the Yucatán Peninsula has captured my soul. 

Is it the innocent smiles of the citizens of Mérida? The unexpected romance of this city of modern conveniences, historic depth, and its proximity to whisper breezes on unspoiled beaches along the northwestern shores of the Yucatán, provide something magical. Genuine hellos, expansive hidden courtyards and afternoon pastries have forever changed my attitude towards vacationing in Mexico. This simply charming city of the Yucatán Peninsula will forever live on inside of me.

The Yucatán feels different. If the feeling could be bottled, it would be filled with the pride, respect, and charm of its people, and that is where the soul connection happened. Each destination sparked magic in the heart, yet Mérida welcomed as though I were home. 

“To travel is to breathe life into the soul, filling the senses with the unimaginable, the recognizable, and the growth to yearn for more.” 

By Miranda Allfrey for TYT

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Miranda Allfrey

Miranda Allfrey is an accredited International Travel Writer, with features published in The Yucatán  Times and Live and Invest Overseas. Discovering charming destinations for more than a decade, she  seeks out local experiences, culture, and delicious food wherever her travels take her. Miranda’s  personal travel blog, Cloud Surfing, can be found here- cloudsurfing.life

Favorite Beach (so far): Harbour Island
Motto: Dream Bigger!!
Upcoming Travel Plans: Thailand, Iceland, Budapest
Favorite Place to Write: Cloud Surfing at 30,000 feet
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