The Centro was more crowded than ever when summer vacation officially began for 200,000 school children. Photo: Sipse

Mérida, Yucatán — By Friday, all Mérida public-school students were finally on summer vacation. By Saturday, the Centro’s market area was bursting with even more shoppers than normal.

Summer sales prompted endless bus lines and overcrowded sidewalks meant a simple errand could take hours.

The epicenter of this chaos was on Calle 65 between 54 and 56, on “la calle de las piñatas.” It was so crowded that pedestrians were forced off the sidewalk and into the street.

Many of the city’s half-a-million school children chose to explore the narrow streets of the historic shopping district.

The summer holiday is profitable for merchants, according to some interviewed by Sipse’s Milenio Novedades newspaper.

At noon, vehicular chaos arrived “at full speed” and for about three hours traffic was in a standstill, reports Sipse.

The Municipal Police report that, on an average day in Historic Center, between 200,000 and 250,000 cars drive through. Saturday was not average.

Around 300,000 children began their summer break in late June, with the remaining 200,000 hearing the final bell this past Friday. Everyone reports back to class on Monday, Aug. 28.