The deep influences of centuries of Spanish occupation are clearly visible almost everywhere in Mexico, from small villages and large cities. The spectacular architecture and beautiful stonework, along with the layout of villages and cities, provide a distinctive and historic European feel throughout much of Mexico.
Nearly all communities have a central square or park. They are the central hub of large neighborhood blocks known as supermanzanas. There is often a large church nearby and perhaps a library and medical clinic, as well as walkable areas with sidewalks and small stores. Parks have open areas and often a stage for various performances.
Parque de las Palapas is one of Mexico’s many, centrally-located parks. Situated in the modern city of Cancún on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, it has an important place in the local culture. In this video we take a tour of the park on a regular Saturday afternoon. With vendors selling food, treats, and crafts, entertainment for the whole family, and ample opportunities to socialize with friends, it is easy to see why a visit to the park is a popular outing.
These parks have always been a gathering place for friends and families. In the evenings and on weekends, they become a bustling hub of activity as multi-generational families gather to enjoy socializing with each other and friends. Young couples on dates sit on benches, holding hands and talking, while older siblings tend to younger siblings, and grandparents watch over all. Whenever I visit a local park, it’s easy to imagine that I’ve been transported back to the 1950s in the U.S.
What’s more, it’s a great way to meet the locals, make new friends, and learn what living in the area is all about. A visit like this to Parque de las Palapas, or any of the many different parks throughout Mexico, will give you a real sense of the importance of community in this country, something that is held dear by expats and natives alike.