Cold weather is relative in tropical Yucatán

bajastempsToday I am waking up to one of those cool, crisp Connecticut fall mornings, and all I want to do is light a fire and cuddle up under a warm quilt.

The problem is, I’m in Mérida, where I was expecting a tropical Thanksgiving. Right now, it’s 66F/19C, which would normally feel just fine! Why is 66 degrees so cold? No more joking about the locals overreacting to weather that’s only moderately warm. It really does feel cold! My blood couldn’t have acclimated in just a couple of days!

I shouldn’t complain. Back home, the weather’s been miserable, even by our standards. A cold snap hit the minute we left, which is pretty good timing. It’s been a glorious fall, and we escaped the first sustained icy plunge by flying to Mexico, where now we’re experiencing frente frio numéro 14, the cold front that has us alternating between pleasant warm days, chilly drizzle, and windy downpours. The changing weather has made our throats scratchy because our bodies do not like alternating weather conditions. When the sun comes out early morning to midday, it’s heaven. Cool drizzle can appear quickly and unexpectedly, however, and for some reason even 75 degrees Fahrenheit/24 Celsius feels nippy. Paradoxically, it’s sometimes too humid for my nylon, lined hooded rain slicker to feel comfortable. On only one occasion this week was it cold enough to wear it and believe me, it was an odd sensation when that nylon slicker felt warm and cozy while walking down Calle 47. I had to put away my sandals in favor of my “travel shoes,” too, which was a letdown and a healthy reminder that Yucatán weather isn’t sandal weather all the time. I’d put on socks if I had packed enough. I have one pair for the trip over and one pair for the trip back.


Mid Guía posted this on Facebook yesterday.

Yesterday in Tucul, they recorded record cold: 59F/15C. Not too far away, I was holding an umbrella touring our indoor-outdoor massive-airflow built-for-the tropics home wondering if we should have included a fire pit. I struggled to remember when it was ever hot in Mérida but reminded myself that it’s a healthy reality check to experience all the weather systems here before moving down with unrealistic expectations. I think by now we can check off every type of weather system short of Hurricane Wilma.

Really, I like this weather. It reminds me of “back to school” time up north. I arrived to the sultry, balmy, sweaty weather I had expected, but now I feel like I was smuggle back to New England while I slept. Heat-weary expats are delighted, but I’m not so sure about Meridanos, who pass out blankets at Red Cross stations when it gets not much cooler than this. Luckily, our hosts had a blanket for us, too, and we slept comfortably under it with no fan or air conditioning, just the window cracked open.

Anyway, I’ll count my blessings. A Canadian friend with American roots and lots of American friends was kind enough to include us for dinner today. We’re happy to be breaking bread, as we have since we arrived, with new friends and neighbors. Not that I usually like to see Christmas lights go up before Thanksgiving, but they push the season early here, too. It’s actually nice to see Christmas decorations start to appear. Tinsel was already hanging at the airport. A giant metal-framed árbol navideño is being assembled at the Remate de Paseo de Montejo, surrounded by Santa’s North Pole village. The lighting is installed over the streets and I wish the city would electrify it before we leave. That’s the holiday I really want to see here: Christmas! This trip, I’m getting a little taste of what pine trees and holiday garland look like in southern Mexico.

Photo: Union Yucatán.

A frosty cabin is installed at the Remate de Paseo de Montejo. (Official city photo)

A frosty cabin, installed at the Remate de Paseo de Montejo, isn’t entirely out of place during the cold front. (Official city photo)


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  1. Here in DF, it has been in the lower- to mid-70′s in the day, and into the lower 40′s at night, which is chilly by anyone’s standards. The mornings, of course, are nippy, and while I’m out in a light sweatshirt, the Mexicans are bundled up like New Englanders ready for a Nor’easter.

    I left Boston on Tuesday, enormously pleased that I had managed to escape the Big Storm. Monday the temps were brutal, 18 F when I woke up.

    I’m having dinner tonight with a friend here in DF, and then tomorrow my friend from Geneva arrives, and then a touristy weekend beckons.

    How long are y’all in Merida?


    Kim G
    DF, Mexico
    Where they are playing Christmas music in English at Sanborns.

    • Not long enough, I can tell you! But we’re having very productive meetings with our architects, breaking bread with new friends, and enjoying some new restaurants! Couldn’t ask for more.

  2. Enjoy!! We here at the beach are having 30-40 degree weather with unbelievable wind!! I understand that feeling cold in Merida when the temp drops a little…..BUT, I am cold intolerant! I look forward to the heat….but, I will be bringing a sweater or two for the “Frente frio”……Don’t you love that name? It sounds so much better than “Cold front”..!!

    • I’ve become cold intolerant over time, too, and no longer feel energized or invigorated by a brisk cool morning. Of course, I still get lethargic in the heat and humidity. Maybe I should move to a place where there is no weather.