Photography by Craig B. Thompson | GlobalVideoHQ
Mexico is a treasure chest of culturally beautiful booty. The options in the country’s 32 states cover the gamut from beaches, rustic landscapes, lush rainforests and serene lakes to rugged mountains. But I’m going to share the gems I found on quick jaunt to Campeche. First, there’s an astounding 853 registered ruins in the state, of which 16 have been excavated and are open to visitors. Influences from the Mayans, Spaniards and pirates lay the foundation for a rich legacy that Campechanos share with great pride.
Reminiscent of the old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia – the capital city of Campeche is still surrounded by a great wall meant to keep the bad guys out. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the historic town center and its surrounding cities and buildings are impeccably preserved.
Campeche is one of the cleanest cities (and the safest) in the country. Its people are welcoming and kind. We were welcomed into one of the oldest homes on the main street owned by the same family for over 200 years! The awesome family legacy was breathtaking and the home featured original elaborate wood carved door frames, decorative wrought iron sconces and antique Baccarat chandeliers twinkling in their exquisite beauty. But the kindness of our gracious host, DOÑA SILVIA SASEAS by welcoming us into her home with a refreshing tea typical of the region, to sit with her family and hear their stories in this great house of spirits is an experience I will truly treasure. Here are the deets to get you started on your own breathtaking journey.
SEE: Campeche Cultural Center and Town Square – the cultural center offers a really well-done presentation of the city’s history with detailed stories of the pirates and conquistadores who saw its value. Across the street is the town square which is still the central site where the city comes together. At 8pm on any given evening, a light show about 20 minutes long projects a dazzling display of light and sound sharing the city’s pride in its story. (www.visitmexico.com/en/campeche)
Edzna Archeological Site was discovered in 1907 and although not entirely unearthed, offers a glimpse into a world here long before us. A world of mythology and gods, commerce and trade, sports and entertainment comes to life. (www.visitmexico.com/en/the-most-important-archaeological-site-in-campeche-mexico)
El Ojo de Agua – You’ll need an outfitter company like Campeche Tarpon to traverse the Gulf of Mexico into mangroves exploding with flora and fauna. Boat through a tiny portal only someone kin to these waters could find, into a world I can only describe as upside down. Massive roots grow above the water as a forest pierces the waters edge creating a canopy dense enough to cover the sky at times. Estuaries meet the sea allowing crocodiles and other reptiles to navigate stealthly. Our guide expertly takes us to a pirate looking bridge covered in moss which opens up to a natural made pocket of spring crystal clear water that we are able to dive into. The water is so pure it’s sweet. A true testament to the majesty of nature. (www.campechetarpon.com)
STAY: If you want to be in the city in the middle of it all stay at Plaza Campeche. 20 rooms are tucked into this property in perfectly understated luxury. (www.puertacampeche.com)
However a 25-minute drive will have you at the stunning Hacienda Uayamon built in 1700. This sprawling hacienda will have your mouth on the floor at every turn. The villas and suites are sprinkled along a lushly vegetated path each one unique in grand. The pool is encased in original walls and nestles itself among the hacienda ruins. This option is about 25 mintues from the Edzna Archeological Site (more on that below.) Both are Starwood Properties. (www.haciendauayamon.com)
EAT + SHOP: The humble city of Hecelchakan en Route to Becal is a day trip. First stop by Hecelchakan, known for its tacos of Cochinita de Pibil– the states national dish. I kid, but it very well could be. These are credited as being the best of the best. In Becal you can find one of the original makers of the Panama Hat (which are technically not even from Panama, they are from Ecuador). Generations of artisans still hand make the hats from the leaves of the jipijapa a species of palm plants using traditional methods. And if you see crab claws on any menu, get them. Trust me, best Stone Crabs I’ve ever eaten.
El Faro del Morro is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving the area delicious seafood for generations. A typical dish of the region is the Pan de Cazon made by layering handmade tortillas with prepared Dogfish (a species of baby shark popular in the region) than covered in a tomato sauce and topped with a grilled habanero pepper and avocado. But the grilled octopus al mojo de ajo will have me dreaming of its perfection for years to come.
(Resurgimiento 120, Miramar, 24030 Campeche | +52.981.816.1990)
Probably one the most beloved restaurants in the city is La Pigua and once you’ve made a visit you will see why. Simply, yet perfectly prepared dishes shine. From the tiny cup of shrimp broth served as a welcome at the start of the meal, to the fresh ceviche delivering a bright and crisp bite after bite. The most tender grilled shrimp served with decadent mashed potatoes and coconut shrimp served simply with an apple chutney. And a beautifully presented whole fish al escabeche (pickled), again typical of this region. It’s safe to say you won’t go hungry on this trip. (www.lapigua.com.mx)
For artisanal goods varying from Guayaberas and hand-embroidered blouses and dresses to wood carved goods, ceramic painted plates and a plethora of other craft goods, Casa de Artesanias Tukulna is reasonably priced and features the work of true artists.
(Calle 10 333, Zona Centro, 24000 | +52.981.127.1768)
Fly: AeroMexico offers four daily non-stop flights to Mexico City where you can catch a connecting flight to Campeche. The carrier is a founding member of SkyTeam which allows them access to a global network of multiple destinations worldwide. AeroMexico is one of the few airlines where you don’t pay for one checked suitcase; snacks and beverages are complimentary in-flight. So sit back, relax and enjoy your flight to your destination.