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This ancient Mayan city originally known as “Zacmotul” is just
40 kilometers east of Mérida and an easy bus ride that takes
you on a scenic off the main route through a number of small
towns. If you prudently catch one of the early seven or eight AM
buses to make sure you get a seat because the bus will soon fill
up to standing room only status filled with students.
In the municipal market on the wall is this old stone cut coat of arms
that still depicts the cities original Mayan name of Zacmotul. click photo to enlarge
In this photo is the cathedral situated on the central plaza on a bleak winter day.
Motul has a number of not too significant claims to fame. Among them are events associated with its past history and
the fact that one of the most famous national breakfast specialties is named after the little town of Motul called
“Motuleños”. To learn more about Motuleños in Motul, click here for Lawson's Yucatan
Just by the mere fact that there is an enormous cathedral and numerous other stacked stone buildings standing
here clearly indicates that the previous occupants, the Maya had constructed a very substantial temple at this place
before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. (The Spanish inadvertently quarried stone from Mayan temples
not only because it was convenient for them but because they could at the same time put down the vanquished.)
This prominent cathedral unfortunately is in a near state of collapse, a fate that seems sooner or later to beset all
the structures of European design here in Yucatan predating cement block and steel reinforcement construction.
Heroic steps have been taken to keep this cathedral standing with steel supports but it appears to be a losing battle
because they have already forbidden public access to the upper levels.
Several large maquiladoras, “fabricators with foreign owners” have setup huge sewing factories employing
thousands in Motul but the pay is low and the operators have little interest in employing anybody over 30 years of
Also with a new four lane highway directly from Merida to Motul it has become a commuter suburb of the capital city
You can see Jane in front of the cathedral which gives a scale of its enormity.
Greeting Jane at the entry door of the cathedral is a repository for money. This money box is but one of
many that give this establishment the sensation of being a cash-cow.
Even on a dark overcast day Motul beams with color around the plaza.
Happiness is a big smile and as you can see these city employees are not only friendly but very jovial. If
Motul lacks in anything it surely is not in cleanliness. We were thoroughly impressed with the city’s high
standard that is the same everywhere through the town.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto’s monument and the city government building in the background tell of civic pride
with neatly painted structures and immaculate streets.
Around the central park, (zócalo) horse drawn taxis called “calesas” are not tourist rides but ground
transport for local shoppers.
This is Main Street in front of city hall and notice the conspicuous lack of motor vehicles
This is exactly how Merida looked 30 years ago with calesa taxis and no stop lights before the onset of
its population explosion that brought its population from 175,000 in 1972 to 1.2 million today.
There is definitely something positive to be said for a quiet slow unhurried pace of life like Motul still
These buggies are for transport and utility, not for show.
In this city that was totally Mayan for four thousand years it is good to see that this lady and many more
like her still keep to their native dress after nearly five hundred years of occupation and domination.
If there is one thing that we liked the most about little Motul, it was this; just like in European countries
people predominantly took bicycles to work and market. This is a pay-for-park bicycle area adjacent to
city hall and the municipal market
Old and new, the nearly five hundred year old cathedral and the microwave tower stand together. With
the fad that has taken Mexico by storm where everybody now is busily chatting with cell-phones
microwave towers with their repeaters have sprung up everywhere.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto’s home and birth place are here in this unpretentious dwelling that is today a
museum dedicated to his life and his political career.
This mangy downtrodden miserable flea-bitten disease-ridden mutt speaks volumes about the uncaring
attitude in this part of the world toward their “callejero” or street dog that have a standing of respect
somewhere between beast-of-burden and rodent.
It is possible to make the trip to and from Motul by bicycle but the road traffic is congested and we find it much more
rewarding to bus or taxi-van ride there and back because that gives you more relaxing time in town to see the sights
assuming you are planning to return to Merida.
The bus leaves from the terminal on the corner of 52 and 67 in the city center and the departures are
Here is a reminder of the fact
that Motul was the place of
birth of a very prominent
populist governor who
championed the rights of the
indigenous Mayan of
Yucatan with land reforms
and workers rights.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto’s home is
visible from this monument
across the central plaza.
It is not hard to cast suspicion
and names do not have to be
mentioned when it comes to
governments around the world
and especially in this
Well, in 1924 Felipe Carrillo
Puerto and all his brothers were
marched out the Merida
cemetery by an opposition
government and summarily shot