Hacienda Sotuta de Peón - A journey into the past

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon is a live, operating plantation that has preserved the beautiful past of Yucatan. The moment you enter inside, you are surrounded by the 19th century houses, cenotes, mule ride, past machinery and the simple lifestyle of the Mayas. It is a unique experience and is a must see if you visit Merida, Mexico. The hospitality of the staff, the old Mayan tales and the great food at the restaurant make it an unforgettable event.



Address:

Calle 39 No. 286 x 32 y 34
Ampliación Dzodzil Norte
C.P. 97115
Mérida, Yucatán

Phone:  52 (999) 941 7190 ; 52 (999) 941 8639
 
 
Tour Rates:
Adults: 330  pesos
Children 4-12 years of age: 165 pesos
Children under 4 years of age: Free of charge
Adult Combo 700 pesos (Transportation, tour and lunch Included).
 
Transportation Rates:
Adults: 200 pesos
Children 4-12 years of age: 100 pesos
Children under 4 years of age: Free of charge

Days of operation: All days of the week; Both day and night tour packages available.

Tour Schedules: Morning tour begins at 10 A.M; Afternoon tour begins at 1 P.M .  The Night tour begins at 6 P.M.

Tour Duration: Three and half hours, excluding transportation. 

Parking: Available

Transportation routes & Timings:

You need to call ahead to book transportation.This service is offered from Hotels in Mérida only. Transportation services are given below:

Pick-up Time for 10:00 am tour:
North:
Starbucks Cafe Gran Plaza
Parkinglot Gran Plaza Mall, Colonia Montes de Ame
Time: 8:15 AM
 
Zona Hotelera:
Starbucks Cafe Paseo Montejo
Calle 56A No. 465, entre Avenida Colon y Calle 56 A, (Avenida Paseo Montejo), Colonia Centro
Time: 8:30 AM
 
Downtown
Modulo de información turística del Ayuntamiento de Mérida
Calle 62 por 61 y 63, Colonia Centro
Time: 8:45 AM
 
Pick-up Time for 01:00 pm tour:
For the 13:00 pm Tour: 12:00pm Hotel Lobby (Minimum 4 people)
 
Time of Return:
For the 10:00 am Tour: 16:00pm Hotel Lobby
For the 13:00 pm Tour: 18:00 pm Hotel Lobby (Minimum 4 people)


The Tour:

The tour begins when you enter through the gates of the Hacienda, where you will be greeted by Mayan ladies. They take you to a waiting area where you will be seated with other tourists. The tour consists of many sections which are given below:

Above: The 'Main House' where the owners rarely stayed. They lived in Merida city.

Visit to the Main House : Tour guide Rolando will greet you and take you into the "Main House" where the owners stayed from time to time. The house had been abandoned for many years and had to be restored. In this process, some of the original items had to be discarded. As you explore the house, Rolando explains about how the Mayas were exploited by the hacienda owners. The hacienda was like a small government, it had its own currency, church, hospital and even prisons. Money earned inside one hacienda cannot be spent in another, thus making the Mayans work in  a prison like environment.
Above: Tour guide Rolando drinks Tamarindo just outside the Main House

After the visit to the main house is completed, you will be given a drink made of Tamarind juice and Hibiscus flowers. It is called  'Tamarindo'. It is especially great if it is a hot day.


Ancient Mayan Fiber processing technique: Here, Rolando explains how the Mayans extracted fiber from Sisal for centuries. They used a simple technique: Beat the sisal plant against rows of closely placed needles. The plant would gradually tear up into small fiber strands after beating repeatedly. You can do it too! Later, the Spanish masters thought it was too slow and implemented machinery to greatly speed up this process.



Sisal Processing Section:

This is where all the machinery comes in. There are 5 different buildings in which specific functions are performed. Sisal or henequen is processed from scratch to finish using these machineries. You can watch the full video here.

Above: Bundles of henequen leaves wait for processing. The truck wheels are designed for rails

1. Scrapper Machine: The leaves are cut from the fields and made into bundles and transported by mule driven carts to the machine house. Here, these bundles are fed into the scrapper machine that shreds them and make into wet fibrous material. The scrapper machine is over a century old and is still in good working condition. This machine can 'scrap' 300,000 leaves in 24 hours. In addition to its own leaves, Sotuta de Peon also processed henequen leaves from neighboring farmers.
 
2. Drying Area: The moist henequen fiber looks green and is not ready for processing yet. The shredded henequen leaves are moved to the drying area, the fibers are left under the sun to get dry.

Above: The bummer press machine compresses fibers into a large bail

3. Bummer Press: Once the fiber is fully dry, it is moved to the 'Bummer Press' area. Bummer press is a tall rectangular machine which is capable of exerting very high pressure. The fiber is fed into this machine, and pressed to make a large bail. Each bail weighs about 400 pounds.  These bails of fiber are now ready for sale and are sold in the Merida market.
Above: Fibers are processed to make finished products at La Corcheria

4. Finished Goods Plant:  This area is also called Corcheria and is used for making end products such as ropes, bags, rugs etc. Some of the fiber from the drying area is directly transported here for making these items. There are a variety of machines in this area including spinning machines, weaving machines and spoolers.
Above: The Mayan "Tree of Life" is still never cut down by Mayas

The Church and the Mayan Tree of life: After learning about how henequen was processed in the Hacienda, you will be led to a chapel. The chapel was more recently built and is modestly constructed. Just outside the Chapel is the "Mayan Tree of Life" , a Ceiba tree. The ancient Mayans believed that these trees were connections to the other worlds, the roots went into underworld and the top touched heaven. Even today, during harvesting timber, the Mayas respectfully leave Ceiba trees standing.
Above: Mules pull the platforms on rails for a nice ride around the hacienda

Truck Ride (Platform pulled by mules):

The hacienda has roads that have a basic rail system. Decauville rails have been laid all around Sotuta de Peon many years ago. The cart has wheels that fit on to the railroad and mules are used for transporting tourists and fiber. It is an open platform on which you sit and watch the landscape of the hacienda. Watch the mule ride video here. They also have a couple of ostriches which are beautiful to look at.



Above: Don Antonio explains his life in Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Mayan House with tales by Don Antonio Ucan:

Next, you are taken into the "Mayan House" where you get to meet the 80 year old native Maya, Don Antonio Ucan. He explains his childhood days as a native in the Hacienda, how he used to cut crops and how simple the lifestyle was. The Mayan house is a one room hut with a hammock. Don Antonio joked around how the Mayas relaxed in the hammock, with one wife on either side. He talks on Maya and Rolando translates for you. Don Antonio Ucan has become quite an icon of Sotuta de Peon.



Above: Crystal clear freshwater in the cavern makes this an incredible cenote experience

Swim in Cenote:

Next, you are taken on Mule trucks to show you the Cenotes in Sotuta de Peon. We stop at the last cenote, which is Dzhul-Ha underground river. Life jackets, snorkels, swimming tubes and lifeguards are available. There is also a mobile bar to serve drinks and showers nearby. The cenote is incredibly fresh, with crystal clear water.  Swimming in the natural caverns is really quite an experience!

Above: Yucatan food served at La Palapa restaurant, Sotuta de Peon

Meal at La Palapa: Palapa means an open restaurant thatched with palm leaves. Yucatecan cuisine is very different from the standard mexican food. The restaurant has a buffet if they have enough number of tourists. If not, you can order from the menu. The menu includes Steak, seafood, rice, tortillas, tacos and beverages. Alcohol is served for a few extra bucks. The food here is really good and they serve a hybrid of Yucatecan-Mexican cuisine.

The meal is the end of the tour, and you can drive back or use their transportation to go back to your hotel.


Other services provided by Sotuta de Peon:

Above: The Hacienda Viva Village Resorts are private, lavishly furnished lodging places

Hotels (village resorts):

They have plenty of accommodations available for you to stay, as the hotels have only been recently built. They are built as individual huts, but furnished with everything you need. Some include private outdoor swimming pools which are temperature controlled. They are called 'Village Resorts' and can cost you US $ 250 - $ 330 per night.

Weddings: If you fancy having your wedding (and your reception) in a colonial plantation, you should book here. They have professionals who can take care of everything including budgeting, booking, assistance, etc. In addition to weddings, Sotuta de Peon can also provide services like

  • Christenings
  • Incentives
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Corporate
  • Conventions

     
  • Other interesting info:

    1. Hacienda is a plantation where they cultivate and process henequen. Sotuta de Peon is the name of the village. We drove the village and asked for "Sotuta de Peon" instead of Hacienda Sotuta de Peon and people told us we are standing there. If you are driving, ask for "hacienda" or "entrada de hacienda."

    2. This hacienda was founded in 1858 and was operated successfully for many decades. Towards the last 50 years, the new generation owners lost interested and abandoned the place.

    3. Shangri-la group bought Hacienda Sotuta de Peon 30 years ago and started the restoration of machinery, buildings and cleaning up the unkempt cenotes.
    Above: A Mayan worker poses magestically for our camera

    4. More than 80 Mayan families work in this Hacienda today. Hacienda Sotuta de Peon has become an icon of pride to the Mayan culture.

    5. After the fall of Mayapan, the last capital city of Mayas, they dissipated and mostly worked as farmers. Henequen or "Green Gold" was their important crop from 1500 A.D onwards.

    6. Uxmal ruins are located at an hour distance from here. Do check out the grandeur of Uxmal!

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