>> Tuesday, January 27, 2009
From an article by Harry Shattuck in the Houston Chronicle:
Ah, the good life.
Lolling beneath a palm tree while serenaded by ocean waves. Sipping a Yucateca Montejo beer and feasting on complimentary tortilla chips, empanadas and ceviche in a thatched hut open to the fresh salt air. Strolling a mile-long beachfront promenade.
And not a Senor Frog's or Carlos 'n' Charlie's in sight.
Progreso, a community of 45,000 on the Yucatan Peninsula's northern Gulf Coast, has long been one of Mexico's best-kept secrets. Still is, except during Easter break and in the heart of summer.
Granted, the arrival of cruise ships from Galveston, Texas, and New Orleans has spurred growth. Thousands of passengers disembark each week onto what some label "the world's longest pier."
But most passengers skip Progreso, making their way instead to buses destined for Merida or the ruins at Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Dzibilchaltun - all convenient and rewarding day trips.
Overnight tourism is primarily the province of Mexican vacationers who covet a budget-friendly beach escape. They congregate in Progreso and neighboring Chelem and Chicxulub, joining smaller numbers of Canadians and Americans drawn to the beach and warm temperatures, to restaurants serving traditional Yucatecan cuisine, to markets specializing in Maya arts and crafts and to a laid-back way of life.