For years it was the heartbeat of the Yucatán. Fiber from an agave plant used to create nautical rope once made Mérida one of the richest cities in the world. For over 90 years, the port of Sisal was the world’s leader in henequen trade. Henequen became known to the world as “sisal” for being labeled a “Product of Sisal” on its export packaging. The henequen/sisal boom resulted in Merida’s massive wealth that continues to shine in the majestic street of Paseo Montejo and haciendas today.
Haciendas across the state of the Yucatán have been revitalized from the days of sisal farming, to majestic resorts, museums, and ideal wedding and event locations. Yet one has maintained the integrity of Mérida’s storied past, bringing to life the old days of running a sisal operation. As the only living sisal museum, Sotuta de Peón sets itself apart from other attractions and haciendas by showcasing the machinery and techniques once used in creating the henequen fiber shipped all over the world.
The Hacienda offers a tour which showcases how the sisal plant was harvested, cut, separated, dried, and bound to sell. Not only is the machinery still working and fascinating, it is amazing to think it took a sisal plant seven years to grow before it could be harvested. Imagine the thousands of acres of plants sitting for that length of time before a hacienda owner could reap the benefits.
From viewing the period decor to watching the machines first hand at work, Sotuta de Peón offers an experience unlike any other, and a perfect way to truly understand the history of haciendas and their influential role in putting Mérida on the map globally.
Stay for the day to enjoy the tour which ends with a horse drawn train ride to an onsite cenote. (Cenotes are natural sinkholes often filled with water, formed by the asteroid which hit off the shores of the Yucatán which resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs.) Jump into the sacred Mayan waters, as they believed they were the entrance to underworld or xibalba, and cool off. With a bar onsite, you have the opportunity to have a margarita or local cerveza. I recommend trying the margarita made with alcohol from the sisal plant. In fact, this alcohol is rare, and part of the charm of Sotuta de Peón.
The Hacienda also offers wedding and event packages as well as nightly accommodations, in addition to their daily tours.
End your tour with a Yucatecan meal at the restaurant. In my opinion you need to try the pumpkin seed salsa (a local staple), Cochinita Pibil, and Salbutes. If you are craving a little something sweet, the dessert is a must try and if you desire a digestif, I recommend Xtabentun, also a great addition to an afternoon coffee pick me up.
Text and photos by Mandy Allfrey Murry for TYT
Writer, Speaker, PR consultant, #cloudsurfer, and #champagne lover.
Her captivating storytelling adds magic to descriptions of destinations, cuisine, experiences, and products. And her passion for writing is as contagious as her passion for life and cloud surfing (aka flying).
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