I was immensely disappointed with this trip. I was excited to see how hennequin was processed after learning of the wealth of Merida and seeing the Paseo de Montejo. I booked 3 trips with Mayan Heritage on Calle 62 in Merdia at the same time, including this one and I paid 725 pesos for the tour of Hacienda Soluta de Peon, including transport and lunch. The transport was fine but when we got to the hacienda we were lined up and asked to pay 700 pesos at a desk. Stupidly I handed over the money despite having already paid with the agency (I'll never know exactly why I handed over the money without questioning first).
We were shown the main part of the actual hacienda first, which basically consisted of 3 lavishly decorated rooms. Nice enough I thought (while wondering what the extra 700 was for) and the tour guide was fluent in English and good at his job.
Next we were shown the hennequin plant which is what I was really interested in. The blurb says it is the "only working hacienda still left in Mexico" which is highly misleading. Yes, the plant does process hennequin and it was interesting to see it from start to finish - but, and they didn't explain this, the workers only actually 'work' twice a day for about 15 minutes while the tourists are watching. There was something vaguely unsettling about it all and I got the feeling I was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as I was walking round. None of the workers make eye contact and they looked kind of unhappy. Please bear in mind that this hacienda and method of producing rope was used to basically enslave the Mayan population of the Yucatan in the 19th century and they lived and worked in diabolical conditions while the Spanish landowners got rich and built their fancy palazzos on Paseo de Montejo. With that in mind I felt like the staff were a bit resentful at all the rich westerners coming to see how their ancestors were exploited. As we walked away from the production plant, all the machinery strangely fell silent...
Next we were taken by a sad looking horse and cart through the hennequin fields to a 'Mayan House'. This too, I found a bit disturbing. We were greeted by an elderly Mayan gentleman who was evidently brought out of his straw hut twice a day and made to greet the tourists in his native language. He was full of life and his smile was infectious but I couldn't help feeling that he was still being exploited. He told us how he had worked there all his life and explained his duties during the boom years of hennequin - but, again I left feeling disappointed. He neglected to tell us about the working conditions he had to endure or the back breaking work he was forced to do at risk of imprisonment. It was superficial and I felt even more sorry for him when we were asked if we could spare any sort of a tip. Mexicans working in the tourism industry rely heavily on tips and I understand this - but this guy was about 90 years old and I found the whole thing demeaning.
So the sad looking horse took us to our penultimate destination - the cenote, or underground river. This was the highlight of the tour for me (though not worth the 1425 pesos I ultimately paid) and a place where nature does all the explaining. These cenotes really are worth a visit so even if you miss the hacienda tour, which I suggest you do, try and get to one as there are many in the Yucatan peninsula.
We finished off with lunch in a desolated hut. The food was decent but drinks weren't included and the place lacked any kind of atmosphere and the staff looked unfriendly. The only time any of them smiled was at the end when they were expecting a tip. We were then ushered towards the gift shop which I avoided. The guy who drove the horse was also selling a tiny lock of rope produced by the plant for 50 pesos, but I think the least they could've done was throw one of these in for free considering the price.
On the way out I looked for the desk where I was relieved of my 700 pesos but oddly they'd packed everything up, even the cash register. A few days later I went back and quizzed the travel agent (Mayan Heritage) in Merida about why I'd paid twice. She phoned the hacienda but they had no record of my visit and asked why I'd waited 3 days to complain. I never got my money back.
Be vigilant and only visit this place if you really have nothing better to do.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.