Tuesday August 29, 2023
Mérida, a city known for its vibrant colors and undeniable beauty, holds a treasure trove of unique neighborhoods. One of these neighborhoods, nestled within the heart of the Yucatecan capital, has captured the attention and hearts of both locals and visitors alike. At first view, it looks like a regular neighborhood in the southern part of the city; however there are a few elements to this barrio that have made it stand out. Welcome to the Barrio de Xcalachén – a place steeped in tradition, history, and a sense of community that has taken on a life of its own.
Mérida’s expansion has transformed former villages into distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character and allure. Xcalachén, once considered a neighboring town to Mérida, now stands as an integral part of the city’s landscape, brimming with cultural significance and authenticity.
The families who have called Xcalachén home for generations predominantly engage in agriculture or traditional crafts, contributing to the preservation of local customs and ways of life. This unique blend of heritage and occupation has solidified the neighborhood’s importance in upholding regional traditions.
Location of Xcalachen Neighborhood
Situated in the central area of the city, specifically at the intersection of streets 95 and 64A, Xcalachén is easy to spot. The neighborhood has become synonymous with the best chicharronerias in the city, renowned for serving up delectable chicharra – a crispy and flavorful local delicacy.
As you explore the vibrant streets of Xcalachén, you’ll not only experience the fusion of history and modernity but also the warm sense of community that defines this neighborhood. The intersection of tradition and contemporary life creates an atmosphere that captivates locals and visitors alike.
Preserving Tradition Through Murals in Xcalachen
In the year 2017, a remarkable transformation began in Xcalachén as several families opened their façades to urban art. This decision allowed graffiti artists to bring their creative visions to life, resulting in a resounding success. Back then, a talented group of 15 artists took part in this initiative, infusing the neighborhood with vibrant hues and captivating designs.
This year for the Festival de la Chicharra the City of Merida commissioned 10 muralists to refresh the area. You can see several murals depicting local tradition and culture also around Calle 95 x 64A.
This ambitious project has brought together a collective of artists who share a passion for breathing life into the streets of Xcalachén. Among the gifted creators working their magic are Jesús Ortiz “Mare,” Alejandro Reyes “Yester,” “Scriba,” “Noki,” “Loyal el Dude,” Rosaura Luna, “La Poli,” “Finita,” and myself—though I believe I haven’t missed anyone, our diverse group makes up the heart of this endeavor.
Xcalachen: A Culinary Haven for Chicharra Enthusiasts
Xcalachén has earned its reputation as a chicharra haven, attracting food enthusiasts far and wide with its delectable offerings. Chicharra is fried pork belly, skin and all the entrails, ears served up with a pico de gallo, cabbage, radish and salsas with tortillas. The chicharronerias also made stuffed jowl, blood sausage, and no part of the pig is wasted. In recent years, the neighborhood has become synonymous with the renowned Chicharra Festival—a celebration that transforms the streets into a fun fiesta. It’s a lively event filled with regional dances, live music, sweet treats, refreshing beverages, and, of course, kilos of chicharra for sale.
Unveiling the Chicharra Legends
Within this spirited neighborhood, a trio of chicharronerias stands out as emblematic icons of the tradition. While the famed “El Rey David” and its branch, “El Príncipe David,” have become part of Xcalachén’s history, three prominent locales continue to flourish: La Lupita, La Flor de Xcalachen, and El Amigo de Xcalachen.
In 2017, an initiative to stimulate the local economy and foster community spirit led to the creation of the Chicharra Fair. Streets were closed to vehicles, transforming the neighborhood into a lively hub of festivities. The air was filled with the joyous sounds of live music, laughter, and excitement. The fair catered to both young and old, offering a range of activities to delight everyone.
The Pedro Infante Monument: An Icon in Xcalachen
One of the dearest treasures of the Xcalachén neighborhood is the iconic monument to Pedro Infante, the legendary Mexican singer-songwriter.
A Tribute to a Legend:
The Pedro Infante monument pays homage to the heartthrob of Mexico’s golden era of cinema. This emblematic sculpture is located in a spot known as the “five corners’ crossroads” in the southern part of downtown. It was crafted by the talented Yucatecan sculptor Humberto Peraza y Ojeda.
It is said that the monument’s location was meticulously chosen, placing it as close as possible to where the plane piloted by the Mexican actor and singer crashed on April 15, 1957. This choice commemorates his tragic passing.
The Monument to Pedro Infante pays tribute to the icon of Mexican cinema, reminding us of his passion for music and film. Calle 62 con 91
As you explore the streets of Xcalachén, you’ll encounter a living testament to the city’s past, present, and future, where traditions thrive, and the spirit of community is as palpable as the aroma of freshly cooked chicharra.
For more information on the city and its attractions, a good resource to check out is https://visitmerida.mx/inicio. As noted above you can download their app “Visit Mérida mx” for Android and iPhone, available at:
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