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Yucatan Hacienda Architecture Book

Yucatan Hacienda Architecture Book

19 December 2006 News 30

Besides being prolific writers and esclavos del Internet (slaves of the Internet), the Working Gringos are photographers. Three years ago, we were commissioned to photograph about a dozen Yucatan haciendas for a book that was being published by the Autonomous University of Yucatan's school of architecture, known as FAUADY, in conjunction with Cultura Banamex and the Yucatan Institute of Culture (ICY). Our good friend and architect, Salvador Reyes, recommended us for the job (Gracias, Salvador!).

We faithfully drove out into the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula every day that it didn't rain for about a month, lugging our photography equipment into fancy hotels and bee-infested ruins. We dragged ladders into empty lots to get the right perspective. We sat around for hours to get the right light. We avoided rusty nails and narrowly escaped falling 30 feet into a cenote. We played with the children and even started to bring soccer balls with us to give away. We discovered towns and people we had never heard of, enjoying experiences too numerous to mention. We would return each day tired but extremely satisfied and exhilarated because the work was, well... fun!

Then they didn't publish the book. And they didn't publish it the year after either. We finally gave up and figured we would never see our hard-won photographs in print. And then, of course, we received an unexpected invitation to attend the publishing party. Doesn't Life always seem to work that way?

When we arrived at FAUADY, the tables were set up in the inner courtyard of the huge three story stone building that was once a monastery. There was a formal guest list which was politely checked at the door. The party was attended by many faculty members, hacienda owners, students, alumni (including Salvador Reyes Rios, Henry Ponce and Gabriela Cornelio) and the man who single-handedly started the hacienda revival here in the Yucatan, Roberto Hernandez. The governor of Yucatan was scheduled to attend, but spent the evening at the Mexico City airport, due to inclement weather. After an introductory speech (we understood almost all of it) and a video presentation, there were a few expository speeches, including one from the woman who had directed our work, Blanca Paredes, a well-loved profesora. Afterwards Blanca presented us with official certificates proclaiming our contributions. But more importantly, she gave us each one of the treasured tomes.

The book is called Arquitectura de Las Haciendas de Yucatán (Architecture of the Haciendas of the Yucatan). It is a 439-page coffee-table-sized Spanish-language architecture textbook, full of drawings, plans, explanations and, most importantly to us, photographs! The book is substantial and beautifully produced (in Spain) and we are orgullosos (proud) to be a part of it, to say the least.

The first question some of you may ask is, "where can I buy one?". If you quickly send us your order, we may be able to get you one. The price to us is $750 pesos ($1,100 pesos retail), so we don't imagine there will be a line at the door. But if you must have one, we might be able to help. We say 'quickly' because we can order more copies directly from FAUADY this week, but we have no idea if we'll be able to do it again. They will eventually be sold in bookstore chains here in Mexico, like Dantes, but in a limited number. While it is a beautifully produced book, at the end of the day it's a reference work for Spanish-speaking architects

The haciendas of the Yucatan are drawing more and more attention to this area. Most of them are beautiful and majestic. Each one is unique and as a group they are architectural treasures that are an important part of the Yucatecan patrimónia (heritage). There is nothing like majestic stone buildings with arches, pools, chimeneas (chimneys), fountains and tiles under the bright blue Yucatan sky to let you know you aren't in Kansas anymore. We encourage anyone who is interested to find out more about them and to enjoy their magical presence.


For more about haciendas, be sure to read Yucatan Living's article on haciendas.

And here are some books you can pick up on Amazon (or elsewhere):

ARQUITECTURA DE LAS HACIENDAS DE YUCATÁN. Blanca Paredes Guerrero et al - The book with our photography in it is sometimes available through

Haciendas of Mexico - Not the best quality book. About haciendas throughout Mexico, not just Yucatan.

The New Hacienda - A design book by aficionados Karen Witynski and Joe Carr.

Haciendas de Mexico/Great Houses of Mexico 2009 Square Wall Calendar - Yearly wall calendar with lovely hacienda photos.


  • Working Gringos 7 years ago

    We have recently located the book for sale at Amazon here:


  • Santiago Di Morales 7 years ago

    You are articles are wonderfull! Thank you for bringing the beauty of Mexico, specially Yucatan to everybody!!! Iam interested to buy the book, will you be so kind to let me know how? I live in Guadalajara.. please do send me the information about it!
    Thank you & Best Wishes for a New Year!
    S. Di Morales

  • ben 7 years ago

    when will there be an english translation ... gringos, including myself (i'm an architect) visit regularly .. are hungry for a REAL book that documents this fabulous architecture.

    there is nothing worthy in english text at the moment .. it would certainly sell ...
    waiting patiently !

  • Tom 7 years ago

    Anyone know where I can purchase a copy of this book? 9/15/2008

  • remthealamo 7 years ago

    I just bought the book this weekend (august 24th) in the Sanborn's en el centro en Cancun. I spent the week in Merida in my continuing search for a property. I would caution others to be selective. Some of the pricing is a bit out of line.

  • CasiYucateco 8 years ago

    There is one copy (as far as I can see) in the Sanborns at the Fiesta Americana. The prise is $1350.00 MX Pesos. First come, first served!

  • CasiYucateco 8 years ago

    I'll provide an update on my own question.

    I cannot resist anything relating adventures in Yucatan, so I bought a copy of the book. Haciendas, Hammocks & Hurricanes is actually a fun read. Written in a breezy conversational style, the book tells the story of Sue and Martin, Brits who wish to live in Merida, or Yucatan, or the Riviera Maya, or just to escape the daily grind back in (their words) cold, dreary England.

    Printed by, it appears to be a self published book, but surprisingly well written for that source.

    Sue and Martin buy a house in Merida (already owning a condo they rent out near Playa) with the intention of opening a B&B. Between their trips to Merida and back to England, they just don't quite get around to furnishing the place, let alone solidifying their plans. What type of customer will they attract? Who would want to stay in the house they've purchased? What will they offer their customers? Low cost? Personal tours? English breakfast?

    Overhearing the discussion of other B&B owners at gringo gatherings, they are discouraged. Still, the tone is light and mostly cheerful. Whether they open the B&B doesn't really matter, as they've retained connections to their jobs in England. Actually, they haven't really quit, just taken leaves. So, one or the other is back to England. Martin, it seems, goes back more often.

    While the book is generally accurate as to locations, stores, services, the people of Merida, it comes off as a superficial description through the eyes of foreigners. Of course it is! What else should I expect? Well, for one, some insight. Some deeper understandings.

    Sue lives in Merida for much of a year it seems (the style is informal and casual - hard to grasp some of the facts of what's going on). During that time, she discovers where to buy various foods, brooms, what kinds of bread and rolls are available. This spot has tasty salbotes, for example. But, aside from the locals "nodding hello" or waving a greeting or doing some work (some false IDs are transparent to me and no, I didn't find the Working Gringos in it, although they may be), the locals are the locals. A people no one understands, but who work hard and put up with the heat.

    Martin complains often about the heat. Of course, they are always out and about without a clue where they are walking or what addresses they seek (just "heard about a street with furniture, so we walked many blocks to see") in the middle of the day. The height of the heat. And Martin repeatedly returns to England, as well as jetting off to Japan and points unknown. Unimportant, except his absence eliminates the possibilty of acclimatizing to the heat.

    (Note: English officers writing about service in India have stated that up to 5 years is required for the body to adapt to the heat. No, I cannot remember where I read that at the moment, but I did read it. And after 5 years, supposedly, the English were just as 'heat resistant' as the locals - less prone to heat stroke, etc.)

    They do attempt to learn Spanish. No indication is given as to whether they become fluent, but it seems not. They rely on a nice local Meridano to assist them with finding repairmen and supplies on several occasions. It seems they are well acquainted with her, but give no real clues as to their helper's deeper life, other than calling up someone or helping them in some way.

    As far as shopping insights, they stumble across things and buy them rather haphazardly, as most do, I suppose in a foreign land. But there's no real dedication to opening the B&B or even fully furnishing it. Mostly, it seems as if they are on a lark. A long vacation away from England to enjoy and explore another land.

    They do buy some furniture but end up wanting to sell the house, having concluded they've got the wrong house for a B&B and they don't want to live in Merida after all. Since this was apparently done within the last couple of years, it seems they came out OK on the house - probably a slight profit, although that's not completely clear either. They end up owning the condo and buy an apartment in Tulum they plan on renting out as well. Belize, it seems, is under consideration as we leave our heroes pondering what to do about working, whether to buy a place in Glastonbury (much like Tulum they say - crystals, hippies, mysteries of the earth type place), and where to go from here.

    Nice to have the money to hopscotch around, buying and selling multiple properties, but I wish them deeper connections with locals whereever they end up. And the heat isn't that bad - if you stay around enough to get used to it.

  • CasiYucateco 8 years ago

    I was searching for that book online (no luck, and I've always thought I was pretty good at tracking down books).

    I ran across this one: Haciendas, Hammocks and Hurricanes, Author: Sue Milnes ISBN-13: 9781847999818 Publisher: Lulu Enterprises, UK Ltd. It's about fixing up a house in Merida. Has anyone read this book or met Ms Milnes?

  • Working Gringos 8 years ago

    The ISBN number is 968-5234-66-3. That number is followed by this phrase, which is new to us:
    Depósito Legal:M-49501-2006

    Please if you find it for sale somewhere, let us know where. We get inquiries constantly!

  • James 8 years ago

    What is the ISBN fir this book - Architecture of the Haciendas of the Yucatan? Thanks :)

  • Scott Burdick 8 years ago

    Hi there,

    I was at Hacienda Xcanatun last weekend and saw this amazing book. Arquitectura de las Haciendas de Yucatan. I'd like to buy a couple copies for our friends. One of whom was married at Hacienda Santa Rosa over the weekend.

    Any information you could send me about how to buy copies would be most appreciated.

    Very best,

    Scott Burdick
    480 945 8447

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