If you’re familiar with Mérida’s neighborhoods, you know that Chuburná de Hidalgo is rather tough to describe.
The district is located around 6 kilometers away from Mérida’s Centro, and it is neighbor to Tanlum, San Pedro Uxmal, and Buenavista.
It extends many miles into small, narrow streets, with sharp turns, dead ends, and endless homes and businesses.
It is sometimes referred to as the labyrinth of the city.
Still, it is one of the oldest sections of Mérida, and one of the few areas that maintain its original essence. In spite of Mérida’s growth and modernization, this eastern corner of the city is a testimony of tradition and community.
Chuburná means “House of yellow cotton” and comes from the Mayan words Chubul (yellow cotton) and Naah (House or building). It was home to several corn plantations in the old days and was slowly absorbed by the growing city.
When faced with the task of describing the district, I’m well aware it would take many posts to capture it as a whole. Instead, I prefer examining its beating heart, the Chuburná market.
Remodeled in 2018, the Chuburná Market has been the cornerstone of the neighborhood for several decades.
Mayor María Fitz Sierra inaugurated the new facilities three years ago.
“From the beginning of the administration, we decided to rescue the sense of belonging and integration that local markets bring to the communities in which they operate,” she said.
Today, the market has new flooring, walls, and countertops. The sanitary and hydraulic installations were restored, metal curtains were maintained, and new galvanized pipe counter-frames were installed.
It also has new electrical installations, new fans and light fixtures. The walls and ceilings were painted, and ramps for the handicapped were added.
The old outdoor eating area was demolished and a new one was built, consisting of three metal structures with independent roofs, as well as eight commercial storefronts made of block.
The vendors and the shoppers walk closely to each other, chatting and laughing over the hustle and bustle. Many local residents visit the market at least once a week, which has created close relationships with the owners of the different puestos, or stalls.
Andrés Cáceres lived in the neighborhood throughout his childhood. Today he resides in Mexico City, but still remembers the market vividly.
“I remember arriving from the main avenue. Before, the first thing you noticed was the parking lot, but the remodeling really changed the market’s appearance. As a child, I remember visiting with my dad to buy polcanes, and with my mom to buy flowers on the park’s corner.”
In front of the market sits la iglesia de Chuburná – the church of Chuburná, an old convent from the henequén times. Next to it, flower stalls, roving vendors and a children’s park add color to the area.
One can find peace under the shade of old trees that sit in the park, but life in the Chuburná Market moves rapidly. Cars honk and swerve in the parking lot, people walk in and out and quickly wave or shout to a friend in a distant stall. Yet despite the apparent chaos, the market has a warmth all of its own.
“People here make you feel welcome,” says Andrés. “They have known each other forever, they share daily and it shows. There is no competition between stalls, everyone here supports each other.”