Founded in 1540 by Francisco Montejo, Campeche historic town is a baroque colonial jewel located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. The name of Campeche comes from the Mayan name “Ah-Kin-Pech” meaning a place of snakes. The historic centre has kept its outer walls and system of fortifications, designed to defend itself from pirates. The main entrances are the Puerta de la tierra (“Land Gate”), built in 1732, and the Puerta del mar (“Sea Gate”). The other gates were Guadalupe and San Román, connecting to the outside neighborhoods. Its commercial and military importance made it the second biggest town in the Gulf of Mexico, after Mérida. Historical monuments and buildings, such as the Franciscan cathedral, old Maya ruins, and the old city walls and forts, make Campeche a magical place. A rich heritage, illustrated by local music, dances, cooking, crafts, and textiles. This poetic town is built on narrow cobbled stone streets, lined with colorful homes. The smell of the sea permeates the walls as the song of seagulls whispers in silence during siesta time. Pelicans dive into the Gulf of Mexico next to small fishing boats, while lovers walk hand in hand on the Malecon, eating tamarind ice cream. The tropical sun captures dancing shadows through balconies and windows, it’s overwhelming beauty transports you in time. As I witness an old man praying on his knees inside a church, I experience his devotion and faith first hand, leaving me speechless and humbled, as he finds sanctuary for his soul in these limestone walls. Mayan women selling mangoes, jicama and papaya bathed in lime juice and chili on every street corner. I wander into a taqueria, to find a group of young men shooting pool in the Mozarabic style arcades. Walking towards the city’s heart, the plaza de La Independencia, a trio plays their guitars and sing old boleros. On the other side of the square you can visit the cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. I step into a local panadería” Pomuch” which has been making bread over hundred years, known for their sweet bread called pan de camelia. Finding traditional Huipils is always a favorite of mine, as well as any antiques from the region. The Xmuch Haltun Botanical gardens, means “water from the earth” holding 250 different species of tropical plants around a garden with beautiful fountains, is an exotic discovery. Visiting these kind of towns bring me so much joy, knowing that in the world we live in, you can still find places where family values are strong, a sense of community, and pride of culture, still remain strong. These walls protect an amazing treasure, I was seduced by the architectural harmony and beauty, leaving me longing for more. My heart was captured by this ideal place, inspiring me to create.
©Chloe Garcia Ponce – All Rights Reserved