Today we decided to be full-on tourists and went for a lunch & show to Rancho Tierra Bonita. Located only 10 minutes from Merida, this ranch only opens for special events and when cruise ships dock on the nearby port of Progreso and sell the tourists on a very Mexican experience for the day. The experience includes a lunch buffet and a show with Charros (Mexican horsemen), traditional dancers and a singer.
We made a special reservation for Greg, dad and I and were told to arrive at 11:40am which was the time they were expecting the cruise ship tour to arrive. We got there 10 minutes early and were taken to the main lunch room, where we took a table close to the buffet. The waiter captain came over and asked us to kindly move to the furthest away table as the cruise ship tourists liked to sit together and asked us to please not tell them how much we paid (which makes me think they got ripped off).
After moving tables we were told to get our food before everyone arrived as crowds were expected. The buffet included a traditional lima soup, green salad, refried beans, red rice, picadillo (ground beef with veggie dish) and pollo pibil (chicken with a traditional Yucatan red sauce), along with some arroz con leche (rice with milk) and a coconut pudding for dessert. The soup was good but the rest of the food was pretty average. After having our fair share of food accompanied by unlimited coronas, margaritas and pop, we went to take our spot on the main arena where the show took place.
The show included six Charros (Mexican horsemen), a group of four dancers and a singer. The show started with the Charros riding horseback around the arena holding several flags, including the Mexican and American ones. They then proceeded to display their skills with the rope both on and off their horses. My dad (a Charro in his younger years) commented that they were not as good (i.e not as fast and accurate), but for the tourist eye they were decent. The show continued with a few Mexican dances including one where the men danced with machetes and another one where everyone carried a bottle, followed by a full tray with a bottle and two glasses, on top of their heads. The Charros came back to close the show and successfully attempted to rope the front legs of a horse while the animal ran full speed. The singer sang a few Mexican classics through the whole performance.
All in all, we had a good time and got to do something different and very Mexican. If anything it was worth it so Greg could finally fit in for at least a couple of hours while in Merida (yes, my dad and I were the random Mexicans in a sea of gringos that day).
If only all those tourists knew that we only paid $250 pesos for the lunch and show…