At the height of the boom in henequen production, known as the ‘Green Gold’, it is said that the Yucatan Peninsula was home to well over 300 haciendas, including Hacienda Sotuta de Peon.
Henequen fibre, which was used to make rope, comes from the agave plant, similar to cactus and very easy to grow in the hot, mainly dry Yucatan climate.
The huge demand for henequen from around the world meant that, for a select few at least, money poured into the area making many hacienda owners extremely rich. Unfortunately, by the early 20th century, the development of synthetic fibre meant that boom soon turned to bust and with no real alternative to henequen, many haciendas were simply abandoned.
While many of these haciendas have been lost for ever, others have been turned into luxury hotels. Very few still produce henequen.
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon is one such hacienda although its reasons for growing henequen are very much geared towards the tourist dollar rather than a desire to try and turn the clock back.
Describing itself as Hacienda Viva (a living hacienda), the property is part museum, part hotel, part restaurant and is well worth visiting.
Visitors will be able to witness the entire process from growing agave in the fields, to producing henequen and then, finally, the sisal which makes the rope. Staying true to the old haciendas, almost all of this is done using original, restored machinery.