Within an hour’s drive of Merida are many little towns dotting the Yucateca landscape that specialize in their own particular brand of hand-crafted items. In Ticul you will find wonderful ceramics of every design, shape, and size. Temozon streets are lined with bodegas selling stunning Mayan-inspired furniture in woods of pine, cedar, and Tsalam. And just 10 minutes outside Merida lies Dzitya, a sleepy little pueblo offering up works of sinks, fountains, gargolas, floor and wall tiles, statues, and more, all made from local stone.
Dzitya is close enough to Merida to be on a city bus route. So when Steve and I needed some items for our B&B we took a bus to Dzitya (six pesos – such a bargain!), got off on a corner just outside the town square, and began our search. Actually, we had lunch, first, but I’ll save that incredible experience for another time.
After lunch we walked to the town square, which is quite large for a town this size. We saw, maybe 2 dozen homes in the little village, and although I’m sure there are a few more, the size of the town square belies the small size of the overall town. In fact, the town square IS Dzitya. And although hardly a soul was around, don’t let the apparent lack of activity fool you. To many this dusty little pueblo is just another struggling Mexican village. But look deeper and you will find a treasure trove of goods and people.
Lined along the streets bordering the square is shop after shop with locals selling their wares. There are highly lacquered pieces in Tsalam, a beautiful local hardwood, and ceramics. But the town specializes in heavy local stonework.
There are three main types of stone used in Dzitya. Macedonia is a dense, white stone with a Jurassic-era look. We have seen this stone on floors and stairs and walls, and we have a sink made of Macedonia in one of our guestrooms. Coquina is a lustrous, marble-like stone used for virtually everything in Merida colonial homes. It has the look of some of the finest Italian marble, but at a price that makes it affordable on even the tightest of budgets. We purchased two coquina corner shelves for our own shower, and the total came to about $30.00 US. I almost felt guilty getting them for that price. I said almost.
Finally comes my favorite local stone, Ticul. Ticul is a red, dense stone. It will have variations of color throughout, often with streaks of deep-red or brown. Because it is so easily identifiable, and affordable, you see Ticul all over Merida: on stairs, floors, walls in bathrooms, kitchens, counter-tops, and building facades. Our pool fountain gargolas are Ticul.
Unlike in Italy, where the prices of stone and marble have risen to luxury level, these Yucateca stones are still rock-bottom cheap, which is why so many expats use them to build their new homes in Merida. All the shops will wrap and ship your items for you, so don’t be afraid of purchasing something for your own home.
Dzitya is a real rough gem of a town. And in September each year, in the town square, is held a huge crafts fair where you will see artisans offering everything imaginable made of wood, stone, and ceramics. It’s just another reason why people from the U.S. and all over the world are flocking to Merida.
Jordy and his partner, Steve, welcome guests to Casa Del Maya Bed & Breakfast in Merida, Mexico. Their six rooms offer pasta tile floors, talavera sinks, air conditioning, pool, full breakfast, ticul gargolas, and much more. Casa Del Maya is centrally located for easy access to Merida attractions and the Mayan ruin sites of Chichen Itza, Mayapan, Uxmal, Ek Balam, area cenotes, Celestun, Progreso, and many others. For information and reservations, visit www.CasaDelMaya.com.