Merida, Yucatan, April 2024.

Adrian de León
3 min readApr 29, 2024

It’s hot.

When we announced to friends, family, and colleagues that we were moving to Merida, Mexico, for 6 months, everyone was delighted for us. No doubt amongst the smiles and the joy, a hint of jealousy could be found. After all, to many, the Yucatan peninsula is synonymous with white sand beaches, Mayan ruins, turtles swimming in clear blue sea, and cold beer clinking above a portion of tacos. This is all we had in mind too.

Then, I spoke to an acquaintance with roots in Merida and rather than sharing a congratulations, smiled with both her mouth and eyes and said — or warned— “I hope you’re ready for the heat.”

At first, I didn’t take her words too seriously; of course it would be warmer over there in Mexico than in London, a city marred with grey clouds and pelted by increasing bouts of rain. I had lived in hot countries before and didn’t feel too much trepidation at the thought of 30 degrees. I felt at home under the sun, and the heat matched my penchant for lazy afternoons and slow movements. My olive skin was ready for sun, so when we went off to Merida, I wasn’t too worried about what lied ahead.

When we arrived in January, Merida was experiencing a frente frio: a geothermal occurrence in which hot air is essentially blown away from land by a cold front. This event meant that the temperature on land was regularly below 30s, setting perfect conditions for newcomers to enjoy the town. Then as the months clawed out of the early calendar days into the Easter period, things changed. The cold front left the house with the door open and something else took its place.

This thing was unabated hot air and the temperatures have gone through the roof. In April, closer to May than to the April’s fools day, the temperature monitors hover just below the 40 degrees mark. Every single day. The coolest day has been 37 degrees. When you wake up at 8am, with the sun rays blaring through the windows, and the birds singing and the dogs howling, the temperature is 31 degrees.

In Merida, as we have come to learn, there are two windows to in the day to enjoy your activities without feeling trapped in a glove of hot air. Between 5am and 11am and between 8pm and 5am. That is it. The rest of the day is like being caught in a web of hot vapours, with little shade, and just a few parks and squares kilometres away from one another.

The cement on the streets have long ago expanded and cracked from the pressure of the season heat. The dogs and cats we regularly came across are hiding amongst the shadows of the abandoned houses and the dilapidated court yards. The locals, if they can afford to, are hiding in their homes or offices. The older generations sit with the front door open, propped up on a plastic chair, swiping the air with a used newspaper.

In this part of the world, the earth sits still beneath the sun. The sun’s rays petrifies the mortals into a daze. The only sign of life is the sweat that drips from the foreheads. The chit chatter of the loudest souls is muted by the blazing heat, and the tightest of hugs are dismembered by the cloud of heat that hovers over lovers and friends.

A beer helps, a cold Agua de Jamaica helps, and the fans or A/Cs of businesses helps, but the threat of the heat remains present. Every single sip of water, every respite from the cold air, are but thin veils unable to prolong the inevitable.

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