10-Marzo-2020, Martes. Cancun, Yucatán to Florida, USA.
It’s been bien. But all good things must come to an end.
While packing an interloper planned to stow away. Dale flicked it across the room where it landed on it’s back and proceeded to sing the ‘La Cucaracha’ until we left our room.
To the airport
Woo Woo! We are back in the USA. Thanks Perky and Bruce for picking us up!
I think I’m going on a hiatus for a while, maybe posting every couple of weeks. Just don’t know…
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Cancun’s airport is the second busiest in Mexico (only
Mexico City’s airport is busier) and it has the most international traffic of
any airport in Latin America. Each year, hundreds of thousands of travelers
visit Cancun. Cancun alone generates 1/3 of Mexico’s tourism revenue. The
country’s total tourism revenue was $22.51 billion USD in 2018.
>> We didn’t see one leave blower the entire time we were in Mexico.
After a breakfast of 2 arthritis strength aspirin we were off for coffee. The bus driver ‘Monday-Friday’ regulars are a calmer lot. It wasn’t the wild ride of the weekend drivers. However, there was a pronto stop full slamming me into Dale. Good thing he was braced for it or we’d have both been laying in the aisle.
A Day without Women Strike. Women in Mexico were urged to disappear for today in protest with escalating gender-based attacks and murders. This follows yesterday’s International Women’s Day women protesting gender violence and inequality inveighing against the “virus of the patriarchy.” Some stores were forced to close. Stay at home women were encouraged not to cook or clean. Women who needed to go to work supported the cause in other ways, like the face makeup above. At a Hilton Hotel, male employees wore purple ribbons on their suit jackets in support of the strike.
Unfortunately, things may get worse for women before it get better as there is some fear of retaliation by men. But, there is hope through awareness and education.
Mexico has a long history of inequality bias between men and women. A native Cozumel friend told us quite bluntly (although he personally didn’t feel this way) many restaurants do not like to hire women for the below reasons: – Women always getting pregnant. If you hire men you don’t need to pay maternity leave; – Women are simply not capable of working for 10 12 hours; and lastly – There is a simply class different between men and women.
Out and about
After our siesta were were out and about once again to complete our beach walk of the entire east side.
My camera was left at home so we could play at the waters edge for our final 2 mile walk down to the south tip and the 2 mile walk back. It was another red flag day. Enormous waves were crashing on to the shore. Whisper soft sea foam was blowing off the tops of the waves and landing on our skin. Life guards were on full alert trying to keep future Darwin Award winners from swimming.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Overlooking the buzzing Hotel Zone, there’s usually a gran bandera Mexicana (enormous Mexican flag) made out of the same material used to make parachutes. It measures approximately 184 x 94 feet, weighs about 500 lbs and takes 40 soldiers to raise it up a 344 ft flag pole. It’s currently down for washing. Wonder how big that washing machine is?
Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stands for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of those who died fighting for Mexico’s independence. The picture of an eagle eating a snake is based on an Aztec legend. In the fourteenth century, a group of Chichmecas (warrior nomads) called the Aztecs (or Mexicas) settled in Mexico when they saw an eagle (representing the sun) standing on a cactus (a symbol of the heart) clutching a snake (a symbol of the earth or Quetzalcoatl)—an image which is now depicted on the Mexican flag.
Luckily Spring Break in Cancun has not yet started. For 12 pesos each we took a bus to the center of the Hotel Zone. I’m certain our bus was attempting to set the land speed limit for a bus in a residential zone. At times all 4 wheels were of the ground.
11AM we were off to walk the beach back to our hotel.
Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach). Playa Delfines public beach has it all from wedding photo shoots, vendors, drones, sea gulls and the Cancun sign. It is one of three beaches in Cancun that have a Blue Flag distinction for the quality of the water.
The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education that a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator meets its stringent standards.
Three hours after we started …. we arrived. Over 6 miles walking on sand is a serious walk. We had to really lean into it to at the end in order to keep going. One thing I know for sure is that I’m never going to walk in a desert or 6 mile miles on a beach again.
Home sweet home. View from our room
After our siesta we headed out for supper.
No one plays Santana anymore.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Cancun has 14 miles of shimmering white sands made of crushed coral, meaning it will naturally feel cool underneath bare feet – despite however hot the weather!
Aquí vamos de nuevo. (Here we go again). Bus ride to Cancun
Dale completely exhausted his conversational Spanish in the first 90 seconds.
Supper at Pescadillas el Galeón. Rumor is that one of our Minnesota friends got hammered here 10 years ago.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Before the city became known as “Cancun,” it was called “Ekab,” meaning “Black Earth.” Cancun is actually also a Mayan word that means “nest of serpents.”
In January 1970 there were only three people living in Cancun, and they were the caretakers of a coconut plantation. Today, this all-round resort hosts over a whopping 700,000 residents due to its rapid development.
Vamonos. (Let’s go) We took a taxi for an all day joy ride. (1,500 pesos approx. $75 USD). We had met Cesar, our taxi driver, on our taxi ride to the Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya two days ago. We told him we wanted to see Uxmal and the Museo del chocolate plus any suggestions he had. He had a couple of great suggestions. Cesar email: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: +52 9992 69 84 87
The Hacienda Yaxcopoil can be dated back to the 17th century. Yaxcopoil in the Mayan language means ‘place of the green alamo trees’. Alamo trees??? At its time it was 22,000 acres of land and considered one of the most magnificent in the Yucatán due to both its size and grandeur, among both the cattle and the henequén plantations. This hacienda has been used as a backdrop for a lot of movies.
The walls are not wall papered. They are painted. The design is first drawn on the walls then hand painted.
Here, the raw fibers from the henequén cactus was shredded, pulled, wound together made into rope that varied in size from fine strands used for making hammocks, twine for baling hay, to hawsers the size of a man’s torso that tie ocean freighters to docks around the world. Individual strands could sewn together to make burlap bags.
The German diesel 100 HP engine Dale is looking below at was built in 1913 by Korting (Hannover).It was used til 1984 when the henequén shredding plant closed down after over 100 years of existence.
The name Uxmal comes from the Mayan Óoxmáal and means “three times built” or “three harvests”. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mayan Peninsula. It is built in the Puk architecture style. Uxmal flourished between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.
Uxmal is unique among Mayan cities as it depended on rain and chultunes(cisterns) for water, not cenotes (fresh water source). Chac was the Mayan god of rain, and the honored god at Uxmal due to the lack of natural water supplies in the city.
Pyramid of the Magician
There’s a legend that says that the main building in Uxmal, the Pyramid of the Magician, was originally built in a single night by a dwarf that was born in an egg. It has been modified 4 times over a period of 400 years and now has four layer of 4 substructures
Clapping your hands about 100 feet from the Pyramid of the Magician echos back an eeking sound. clap clap clap eek eek eek
The mosaic façade on the Governor’s Palace is one of the longest in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with more than 100 stone masks of the rain god Chac. Still, it was like looking for Waldo trying to find Chac among the warriors, snakes, planets, and macaws, and other deities. The Governor’s power was based on divine right (a direct link to the gods). He could remain as the Governor as long as he had the power to make it rain. (In prolonged dry seasons or years of drought he go voted out).
The central doorway, which is larger than the others, is in perfect alignment with Venus.
Casa de la Tortuga
It was believed that turtles suffered with man at times of drought and would also pray to Chac for rain.
Great Temple (or Great Pyramid)
Dovecote. The Spaniards gave it the name because they thought it looked like a pigeon loft complex.
Juego de Pelota (ballgame)
The Nunnery Quadrangle
The Nunnery Quadrangle was given its name by the 16th-century Spanish historian Fray Diego López de Cogullado because it reminded him of a Spanish convent. It may have been a military academy or a training school for Mayan princes, who would have lived in the 74 rooms.
The North Building of the Nunnery is the highest and has a many-chambered terrace accessible via a second wide staircase leading from the courtyard. This structure has 13 doorways representation of the 13 levels of the Maya heavens. Opposite, the South Building has nine doorways, imitating the nine levels of the Maya Underworld (Xibalba). The West Building has seven doorways, this time reflecting the Maya mystic number of the earth. Mosaics on the East Building suggest this structure may represent the point in the Middleworld where the sun rises.
The rain good is all over the west building facade above with his trusty rainmaking tools (axe and snakes). One snake runs the entire length of the facade. The snakes head and tail start and end here at the rightmost panel of the building.
Rounding the corner on the west side of the Nunnery, between buildings, is a view of the Pyramid of the Magician.
Museo del chocolate (Chocolate Museum) Duh, yes. Of course I had to go.
This Museo del chocolate is one of four owned by Eddy Van Belle, a Belgian chocolate business owner who decided to dedicate his life to chocolate at the age of 12. The others are in Brussels, Paris, and Prague.
The Museo del chocolate is located in a botanical garden, which includes several varieties of cacao trees. It also houses and cares for native animals that can not be returned to the wild for various reasons.
Through out our walk we heard ceremony drums a conch horns. One section of the museum had been sectioned off for a private Mayan ceremony.
Lunch at a local restaurant where they make their own Cochinita pibil in the traditional way. Cochinita pibil is a marinated pork dish that is made with achiote, a reddish spice with a distinctive flavor and peppery smell. The pork is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an underground oven.
Chicxulub meteorite ridge
I think this was the highlight of our day’s trip. It was mind blowing to see the Chicxulub meteorite ridge. Imagine the impact.
For a few more pesos we took a tour with Pedro, a Mayan who lives here that is studying to become a shaman. First stop was his workshop where he makes traditional Mayan items like drums and vessels. He also had two types of stingless meliponini hives.
Guided by dreams, Pedro 15 years ago first found the cave 15. It scared him so badly he said it took him 7 years before he would return to the cave. He said people have come from around the world who have dreamt of this place and sought him out. Pedro doesn’t want the government to know about the cave because he is afraid they will take it away from the Mayan people. I seriously doubt you could find this place in any tourism literature.
Surprisingly it was like a sweat bath inside the cave. Mayan wedding ceremonies are held in the cave and people from around the world come for multi-day spiritual retreats.
It is possible to splunk into other sections of the cave. We didn’t go.
Agriculture. There are small sections of land immediately outside the Chicxulub meteorite ridge where agriculture is possible. Other than that it’s lots and lots of rock.
Weapons and drugs checkpoint Coming and going between Merida and Tabasco there are weapons and drugs checkpoint. We were asked to roll down the windows so they could look at us. Apparently we looked liked harmless senior citizens.
Out for our last night in Mérida.
Muchas Gracias to La Casa Carmita for a wonderful stay!!!!
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Mexican words sure have a lot of Xs in them.
Many of the Mexican words are not in Spanish, but in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the ancient Mexicans and still in use in modern Mexico mixed with the Spanish.
The sound of the “X” in Nahuatl was closer to the modern “sh” (like in the original pronunciation of Mexico “Me-shee-ko”) and because the Spaniards could not pronounce the names properly they re-codified them for phonetic pronunciation. Pronunciation ‘X’, ‘Z’ and ‘J’ is really goofy in the Mexican language.
‘X’ is used in a lot of Mayan design. I haven’t found out the reason why yet. Let me know if you know.
Cementerio General, Mérida’s main cemetery and one of the country’s oldest, first began in 1821, when the government decreed that cemeteries be established outside the city limits. It was founded on San Antonio X-Coholté hacienda owned by Captain Clemente de Acevedo two centuries ago and is still in use.
The Cementerio General had its greatest splendor in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At that time there was a custom that when a corpse arrived they had to build their place as similar (same architectural style) to the place where they lived, as a way to make the transition from life to death a little easier. This is why most of the mausoleums of the General cemetery have different architectural styles and construction materials brought from Europe. The Calle 60, the main avenue of the cemetery, can be compared to Paseo de Montejo because many wealthy families wanted their mausoleums to be placed on that avenue.
Its more than 25,000 vaults, ossuaries and mausoleums are part considered part of Yucatán’s architectural and cultural heritage.
Although I really enjoyed walking through the cemetery I was disappointed that I could not find some of the significant tombs. It was too hot to keep looking. Something for when we return…
The old cemetery has expanded to include a modern cemetery section just outside its old gate/wall.
Back to the Casa Carmita for una siesta. It’s HOT again today.
Refreshments, botanos (free snacks) then back again for a siesta.
One of the botanos was jicama and cilantro marinated in lime and hot peppers. Pretty tasty. Another was chicken gizzards.
Out for our evening stroll around Plaza Grande and Santa Lucia Plaza.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
The impact site of the Chicxulub meteorite, the one that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years, is less than 15 miles away from Mérida. The asteroid/comet, estimated to be 6.8 to 50.3 miles wide, hit the Earth traveling at 44,640 miles per hour, roughly 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet. The crater is estimated to be 93 miles in diameter and 12-18 miles in depth. It’s estimated that on impact the Chicxulub meteorite was a million times more energetic than the largest nuclear bomb ever tested.
Gate to the other life…The impact of Chicxulub meteorite extinguished three quarters of life forms on Earth, marking one of the major events in the evolution of life, with the transition from the age of dinosaurs to that of mammals.
102 degrees Fahrenheit today (39 Celsius). We took the taxi.
Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya (Great Museum of the Mayan World). I would equate this museum to a Smithsonian Museum.
We are touring Uxmal this coming Friday so I took a couple pictures of Uxmal artifacts.
Statues of gods. It’s amazing any artifacts are left as harsh as the Catholic Spaniards were on the Mayan people.
Catrinas dancing in the dark. Woo Woo! Cementerio General has walking tour at 8PM on Wednesday. We made it there but …. we met a bunch of Canadians at 7:45 PM who convinced us we were at the wrong gate because it was locked. Foolishly we followed them. At some point I rechecked Google maps. I am certain we will be in the USA long before they find the correct cemetery gate. By the time we got back to the gate we were 30 minutes late for the tour and no one was there 🙁 I suspect the tour guide had a key for the gate.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
earliest Mayan settlement dates back to 1800 BC. According to Mayan mythology,
the world was created in a sequence of four events sculpted by a group of
“artisan gods”: first came the animals, then wet clay, followed by wood… and
finally the first human beings, which were said to be made of maize.
pre-Colombian Mayans often sought to “enhance” the physical features
of their children. Mothers would press boards on the foreheads of their kids so
that they would be flatter (mostly just in the upper class). Objects were also often dangled in front of a
baby’s eyes until the baby was cross eyed, which was another desirable trait
found in nobility.
having flattened foreheads and crossed eyes, Mayan nobleman had noses that were
built up with putty/clay giving them a beaked shape. Their teeth were also
inlaid with jade. Nobel women filed their teeth into points.
use of painkillers for anesthetics, medicinal purposes and also as
hallucinogenic agent during religious rituals.
had the audacity to call the Mayans barbarians. In fact, these incredible
people had created one of the most advanced scientific nations on Earth…
cities had pyramids, palaces, and ceremonial ball-courts. These buildings were
painstakingly placed to align perfectly with the stars, to help make the
practice of stargazing an absolute breeze. The Maya built some of the biggest
pyramids in the world. They did it without the use of metal tools, the wheel or
were also prolific writers. They were among the first to record history in
books. Historians believe the Mayans may have written as many as 10,000 books. Bishop
Diego de Landa took a brutal approach converting the population to Christianity
by burning books and destroying other artifacts, in an effort to erase their
in the Mayan history simply do not have enough solid information to state with
clear-cut certainty how the Maya civilization ended. The downfall of the
ancient Maya was likely caused by some combination of famine, drought, and
change in the environment brought on by deforestation for farmland. This likely
caused neighboring cities to turn on each other causing civil strife. It wasn’t
a single event, though: It took over 200 years for the civilization to fail
03-Marzo-2020, Martes. Mérida, Río Lagartos y Los Colorados, Yucatán
All women like flamingo. Today we took a tour van to go see flamings. The van was one short of capacity with 11 women plus Dale, not counting the tour guide and driver. Since we were the last people to be picked up we were relegated to the back of the bus for the entire trip. Although our tour guide was multilingual the greater portion of the tour was solo en español 🙁
The drive to Los Colorados was more interesting than the drive from Cozumel to Mérida. A little more agriculture, a small amount of irrigation for crops and cattle, a few ranches (small to large), miles and miles of rock fences and a lot of scrubby land. It’s 300 miles round trip.
Sometimes when you travel out west in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado you see beautiful ranches and think ‘Wow! That would be a cool place to live”. Not here…… The land is rugged, extremely rocky. Occasional there are dining room table size chunks of rock, no doubt courtesy of the Chicxulub meteor.
Potty break at the Oxxo in Sucila. Sucila is small town a couple kilometers west of Tizimín, where we turned north to Río Lagartos. I bought one of each of the limón (translates to lemon but it really lime) flavored cookies.
The longer we were in the back seat of the van the better our seats looked. The bus driver played heavy metal music on the radio. The music was more than loud enough for us. Interesting music choice for a bus load of old women and Dale.
Estamos aqui al la Parque Natural Ría Lagartos. (We are here at the Ría Lagartos Natural Park.)
The ISYSA salt company has mined the salt at Los Colorados since the 1940’s. Los Colorados is an ancient saline estuary where the Maya harvested for more than 2,000 years. The salt gave life to the towns and businesses of Central America including Chichén Itzá, Cobá, Uxmal, Edzná and Tikal, as well as more distant places like Copán, Izabal and other Caribbean islands.
The ISYSA facilities harvested more than 200,000 tons of salt last year.
Short stop at a beach in Parque Natural Ría Lagartos near Los Colorados
Río Lagartos (Alligator River) boat ride from Los Colorados to the city of Río Lagartos. Río Lagartos is a mangrove-lined, salt water river. But in reality Río Lagartos is not really a river. It’s an estuary. The lagartos are not alligators, they are crocodiles. The entire of Parque Natural Ría Lagartos has been recognized since 2004 as UNESCO a Biosphere Reserve because of its incredible flora and fauna.
It’s not much of a picture below but interesting never the less. The bubbling spot near the bow of the boat is where a cenote is emptying into the river.
We also saw lots of migrating white pelicans, egrets and herons from the USA and Canada, and Mexican eagles.
Ciudad de Río Lagartos (City of the Alligators)
We stopped for lunch then headed back to Mérida. In case you wondered, here’s what the back of the van looked like.
I was exhausted from sitting in the bus all day. We ate the rest of our cookies just to make sure any cockroaches around here didn’t get them. Per room instructions posted in yesterdays blog, I didn’t want to use my shoe:-) (We haven’t seen any cockroaches)
After a shower to wash the salt water spray and heat of the day off we were in bed by 8:30PM.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
The word ‘flamingo’ comes from the Spanish word
‘flamenco’ meaning fire. The pinkest birds have the highest status in
the colony as the bright color shows that a particular individual is strong and
good at finding food resources.
Flamingos are social birds thrive on social interaction and do not thrive if they have to live alone. A flock of flamingos is called a stand, pat, colony, regiment, or flamboyance.
There are six species of flamingos. The American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is the only flamingo species native to North America, but is rarely seen in the United States anymore.
Flamingos are monogamous by nature, and only lay around one egg per year. Flamingo chicks are born gray or white and up to three years to get their pink and red feathers.
Flamingos, both female and male, feed their young directly from a secretion produced in their crop (throat). This ‘crop milk’ is bright pink. So much carotenoid is taken up by their crop milk that by the end of a breeding season both parents have lost the pink coloring from their feathers and appear almost white.
BTW. Flamingos are pink on the inside, too. skin is pink and
flamingo blood is pink.
El Norte es no mas. The north wind has stopped blowing and it is hot. It is an art to stay in the shade as you walk around. This often makes one sidewalk on a street very crowded while there is no one on the other side. Fortunately it’s not humid like Cozumel was.
Color of the city
We’ve mastered the art of walking around here. I thought I’d seen the narrowest side walks ever two days ago but the two below are narrower!
We lept around like the video game Frogger just to avoid getting hit by traffic and keep on the shady side of life the street.
Paseo de Montejo
Paseo de Montejo, modeled after Paris’ Champs Elysees, is lined with the mansions of Merida’s old aristocracy. It’s named after Francisco de Montejo y León (el Mozo), conqueror of Yucatán and founder of the city. From the late 1800s to the 1920s, Merida was the richest city in the World as it was the leading producer of henequen, a plant that is used to make ropes.
Monumento a la Patria. There are more than 300 hand carved figures, that tell the story of México from the establishment of Tenochtitlán to the mid-20th century. There are also Maya cultural figures like a Cacmool, a ceiba tree surrounded by butterflies, jaguars, and the city’s shield.
There are so many mansions that have fallen into a state of disrepair due to expenses to maintain.
Have you ever seen a bunch of pigeons sitting in a tree? I never have until today.
Its 93 degrees at 1PM. With humidity factor it feels like 104. Not yet the hottest part of the day. Time for the siesta.
Dale wanted to hit a Mexican dive bar. I went along for the walk and to keep him out of trouble. Found one.
The bartender asked if we wanted nuts. Before I could say no Dale said yes. He ate some, taking it for the team. I wouldn’t touch it. All I can say is that the food along Plaza Grande yesterday was a whole lot better than this. Gee I hope he isn’t sick tomorrow…
Dining and dancing(not us)
Dinner at Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca. This is another one of the many must eat at places if you ever get to Mérida. Two drinks, dinner and dessert $30 USD.
Traditional dancing in the street in front of Plaza de la Independencia. The price for one of the lovely women’s dresses is approx $100 USD. I totally would buy one but think it would look really out of place and funny on a Scandinavian.
Literature in our hotel room. Practical advise. You gotta read it. Zoom in.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Mérida is known as the White City in Mexico. According to some, the city was painted and decorated with white materials in the Spanish Era, so, they call it the white city. Whereas, other claims that it is due to its Sanitation. One thing Mérida has going for it is that most sidewalks in El Centro are level and void of dog poo.
I believe it is a city of colores y sabores brillantes (bright colors and flavors).
Streets are closed down around Plaza Grande for a weekly Yucatan market.
First stop the Picasso Exhibit in the Olimpo Cultural Center adjacent to the Plaza Grande. We couldn’t get in right away due to some sort of a military recognition ceremony. The drum major ceremoniously twirled and sounded his bugle orchestrating the troupes.
In the Picasso gallery
FREE access to the Olimpo Cultural Center Picasso exhibit. There was over 100 drawings and paintings.
Dans l’atelier de Picasso. The Picasso’s Workshop gallery was completely void of people when we first entered it. A private showing for the Tobins! We were amazed at the minimal security. A woman touched the glass on a picture while pointing and talking to her son. Try that in the USA…
Picasso’s “Le Tricorne” – Le Tricorne (Three-Cornered Hat) is a two-act ballet that Picasso designed the set and painted theater curtain. My pictures in this room didn’t turn out but in this room a movie of the ballet is playing and the walls are lined Picasso’s set design and costumes drawings. It was fun to look at character in the movie then find the corresponding on the wall.
Picasso’s Carmen Fixation – Mistresses and wives successively served as Pablo Picasso’s muses, but they were not enough. He also sought inspiration from fictional women. Carmen was born in a novella by a Frenchman, Prosper Mérimée, and made famous in an opera by another, Georges Bizet
Plaza Grande is know for its topiary trees and conversation chairs (chairs you sit in and face each other).
FREE access to Casa del los Montejo museum.
A Jacobo y Maria Angeles ‘alebrijes’ art exhibit was in the old library rooms. Their work has been exhibited in major national and international exhibition including the Smithsonian Native American Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art. Jacobo y Maria Angeles wesite: https://jacoboymariaangeles.com/?lang=en
Dance performances are held throughout the day around the Plaza Grande. This look like a dance recital. We didn’t stay long.
Ceremony, Picasso pictures, museum, dancers and a market. Not bad for a Sunday morning in the park.
Dzalby – Dzalby is a great little music cantina at the end of our block. We’ve walked by several times and heard Miles Davies and other great sounds of jazz and blues wafting out of it. Today we stopped in. It was full of expats and Canadians! The bar is owned by seven guys, five of which are musicians at the symphony, one is a sound tech and the last? Don’t know.
I was still hungry so we returned to the food courts at Plaza Grande. (The food courts are Dale’s personal hell). Heck, they can be that bad. All the tables had hand sanitizer on them.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Alebrijes are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical (fantasy/mythical) creatures. The first alebrijes originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s, Linares fell very ill and while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There, he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly turned into something strange, some kind of animals, but, unknown animals. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, “Alebrijes”. Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.
His work caught the attention of a gallery owner in Cuernavaca, in the south of Mexico and later of renowned artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
It’s a whole new world to explore. Today we checked out the markets. Vamanos al mercado! (Let’s go to the market!) English is not widely spoken here in Mérida. I NEED TO LEARN SPANISH.
Across the street from Burger King is the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden.
Across the small square from the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden is the Gran Hotel. Next time we stay here. Great deal only $5USD more per night. Gran Hotel Across the small square from the Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden is the Gran Hotel. Next time we stay here. Great deal only $5USD more per night.
As we were admiring the architecture a local gentleman kept talking to us. We were thinking he was giving us the hustle as a tour guide. Turns out he was a genuinely a nice guy. He talked us into going a half a block out of our way to see the architecture on the Mercado Principal Taller de Arte Maya – Hunab Ku.
Hunab Ku is a Colonial period Yucatec Maya word roughly meaning “The One God”.
What a find! The store was like walking through a Mayan cultural art museum. It’s an old home that has been made into a shop.
Back on our way to the market….
In the 16th century the Catedral de San Ildefonso was built on the site of Mayan ruins T’ho. If you look closely you can see Mayan glyphs etched in some stones. The Catedral de San Ildefonso, seat of the bishopric of Yucatán, was the first cathedral to be finished on the mainland of the Americas. Ground breaking 1562. Completion in 1598. (36 years)
Adjacent to the Cathedral of Mérida is the Passage of the Revolutionand Museo Fernando García Ponce.
The Casa del los Montejo was built between 1542 and 1549 by the Montejo family ( conquerors of the Yucatan Peninsula). Possibly the only example in Mexico of a civil house built in the 16th century Plateresco style.
Many of the sidewalks are extremely narrow along the heavy traffic streets. they are built for the smaller Mayan people not the big gringos like Dale and I.
We made it to the market section of the city. To say it was huge is an understatement. The flowed from block to block building to building.
The booths seemed to be loosely organized in product sections. The trick is to find the section you are looking and then try to decide which of the 10+ booths to buy it from.
The crowds were overwhelming 1.1 million people in the city of Mérida. At least half of them were shopping today!
Food or Pets? Live animal section.
Cages are sold in the hardware section. That’s a few rows down. Fried fish section is adjacent to the live animals section …. Ugh germs!
Back through the clothing section to the hardware section.
And then there was the purse section, the uniform section that had the orange jumpsuits trimmed with reflective material, the underware and bra section, the meat and poulty section, the flower section, the children’s backpack section, the manicure section, the photo section, the gold section, the silver section, the cell phone section, and on and on.
Heading home. It’s way past siesta time.
After una siesta we were off to Plaza Grande for our evening walk.
Pok-Ta-Pok is ceremonial ball game played by the Mayan with great honor, The game began once the priest had finished the purification and the invocation of the gods. Essentially a solid rubber ball, weighing up to 9 lbs, is bounced between teams while trying to knock it through a hoop, only using hips.
It’s miraculous players didn’t leave the ball court a bloody mess with all the sliding onto the cobblestones in an attempt keep the ball bouncing instead of rolling.
The second demonstration was a fireball version of Pok-Ta-Pok. Hands were used to toss a fireball through the hoop.
All in all it seemed a little sacrilegious to play Pok-To-Pok honoring Mayan gods in front of Catedral de San Ildefonso. But hey, the Mayans were here first weren’t they?
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
I’m not sure how everyone could tell Dale and I were tourists. Was it because of my sleeveless shirt, sunglasses, hat, canvas bag and camera? Because of Dale’s Ron Jon shirt, shorts and baseball hat? Or because we were at least 8 inches to a foot taller than a lot of the locals.
I tried talking Dale in to buying a Guayabera, also knows as camisa de Yucatán (Yucatán Shirt) or wedding shirt.
Towards the end of the 1800’s the Guayabera was the shirt of choice for upper-class Yucatecans who brought them on frequent trips to Cuba. Since the ’70s the Guayabera became so popular a slogan was born: Yucatán is the door to the Mayan world, and Mérida the world capital of the Guayabera. Guayabera Jack is one of the oldest producers of Guayabera shirts and owes its fame to the quality of their materials and artisianship.
Huipil – traditional Yucatán dresses. The huipil has been worn by indigenous women of the Mesoamerican region (central Mexico into Central America) of both high and low social rank since well before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas. It remains the most common female indigenous garment still in use.
I’m amazed at how they can keep them white! I sure couldn’t.
Gracias Cozumel por permitirnos vivir brevemente entre ustedes en su encantadora isla. Espero con ansias nuestro regreso. Thank you Cozumel for allowing us to live briefly with you on your lovely island. I look forward to our return.
We sprung for a taxi leaving the Casa Cereza rather than roll the little wheels on our suitcases down the streets and sidewalks. $2.50 USD
The MSC Meraviglia docked at Cozumel last night. It is the cruise ship that two other nations refused dockage due to corona virus fears even after the sick crew member had a confirmed diagnose of common seasonal flu. Mexican President Lopez Obrador said Mexico had to act with “humanity. Passengers will be let off the boat today.
8:00AM departure on the Ultramar ferry. Yesterday’s El Norte was still blowing at 16 mph and gusting to 20. Waves were rocking the ferry enough to make boarding it a bit of a struggle. The captain had to bounce bow and use his thrusters to move the ferry off the pier for departure. I’m glad neither Dale or I are prone to seasickness. There was more than one feeling of weightlessness as the ferry porpoised its way to Playa del Carmen across the 5 foot high 6 second duration swells. Ferry was $20 USD for the two of us. If we had local cards (expats living here) it would have been $6 for the two of us.
9:30AM quick stop for breakfast and a cappuccino across from the Palacio Municipal
10:00AM arrival at the ADO bus terminal for our 10:30AM bus to Mérida. Tickets were $50 USD for the two of us.
The bus ride to Mérida was not scenic. All this land was torn up and fried by the meteor which destroyed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Forested, trees grow between rocks in soil until they deplete the nutrients and die or fry up and die from the heat. I saw one small herd of Brahman cattle. Couldn’t help wondering what exactly were they eating?
I have a
lot of admiration for the Mayan culture for them to establish a strong presence
here in this bleak land.
Our bus seats
were in the second row from the front. Close enough to hear the bus driver sing
his way to Mérida.
Our new home sweet home at $48 per night. Good deal. Breakfast included.
The hotel is quiet and clean. The matrimonial sized bed (double bed) will fit us just fine. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept double in a double bed.
After a brief rest we walked the perimeter of the Centro/downtown area. The architecture, markets and food here are supposed to be amazing. Our walk and supper was just a tease.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Mérida is the capital and largest city in Yucatan state of
Mexico. (Bigger than Cancun) The Mérida metropolitan area has more than 1,161,000
people, ranking 12th in 2019 among the most populous Mexican cities.
The city, like much of the state, has heavy Mayan, Spanish,
French, British, Lebanese and to a lesser extent Dutch influences. Mérida has the
highest percentage of indigenous population within any large city in Mexico.
The Maya are approximately 60% of the population.
Dive another day. An El Norte swirled in last night. The harbor is closed. Our final dive here in Cozumel was cancelled 🙁 Mañana we leave for Mérida.
Our last walk about – Final glimpses
My favorite hacienda.
The top of the door in the below old hacienda wall is about even with Dale’s shoulder. Perfect height for the Mayan peoples.
I really love this mural. This is Cozumel to me more so than any other mural.
Huichol bead art. Woo Woo. The Darth Vader mask the bead lady was working on last week is finished! Could be yours for $800 USD
Good night Darth.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
In the Huichol culture, there can be no art without religion or religion without art. Religion is not a part of life. It is life. The gods are everywhere including the trees, hills and lakes. Even the lowly stone has a soul. These intensely religious people immerse themselves throughout their lives in this awareness through ritual and the execution of sacred symbols. Both colors and designs are important.
The Huichol refer to themselves as Wixáritari (“the people”) in their native Huichol language. They live in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango (north central Mexico). Huichol is recognized as a national language in Mexico.
Huichol beading is a style of beadwork. Beads are placed onto the wax and pressed in. The specially formulated wax mixture does not reject the beads as it hardens.
Other traditional Huichol art includes the Ojo de Dios (God’s eye) and Nierikas (yarn paintings).
There is not a description that can bring you close to the reality of Carnaval. There are experiences that have to be lived firsthand in order to feel the collective enthusiasm and become infected with good vibes.
Carnaval takes its last breath 💃 🕺 Tonight was the final Carnaval event, the Award Ceremony and Traditional Burning of Juan Carnaval.
Setting the stage
I have come to realize that a scheduled event always starts 1 hour later than publicized. I of course arrived for the scheduled time. The ‘Toot Toot’ song played 4 times before the event started.
A lot of money was awarded in a plethora of categories. Here’s just a few of them.
Allegory (I had to look this definition up) An allegory is a work of art, such as a story or painting, in which the characters, images, and/or events act as symbols. The symbolism in an allegory can be interpreted to have a deeper meaning. … An allegory, meanwhile, uses a particular metaphor throughout an entire plot.
Comparsas (I had to look this definition up too) Group of people parading together at a popular party in disguise, often in costumes of the same type.
Sarah’s favorite float, the T-Rex, won the ‘Fantasy’ award.
Trophies were awarded too.
Part of Carnaval is centered around a Mestizo character named “Juan Carnaval”. Legend has it that Juan Carnaval had sex with over a thousand women from eight countries, with whom he had countless children. He was stabbed to death by his jealous wife.
Juan Carnaval’s comical will and testament is read on Ash Wednesday where he leaves his inheritance and recommendations to politicians and personalities of the community.
A stuffed effigy of Juan Carnaval is burned every year for the cleansing of the carnavals’ and community’s sins. Gone are all the bad vibs!
It started to rain so it was hard keep the Juan Carnaval buring. One fireman was squirting lighter fluid on on the fire from a can. I think my dad told me never to do that.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Carnaval 2021 will be February 10-17. Start planning now!
The term ‘Fat Tuesday’ is not a really Latin country thing. In Cozumel, it is simply the name of a bar restaurant on the Benito Juarez Park plaza. In Mexico today is called Martes de Carnaval (Tuesday of Carnaval).
Carnaval troupes have been performing on corners through the city for the last 24+ hours around the clock. Dale and I were awakened to a drum troupe at 2:00AM on a corner a block away. We’d have gone to watch it but were concerned we’d scare the snot out of Sarah if we woke her coming back in the middle of the night.
Faces of Carnaval
Staging the Parade
The parade staging area gave me an opportunity to look up close at some of the magnificent floats. Wish the day was sunnier. The floats shimmer when the sun comes out behind the clouds.
Down to the Details
Another round of way to many pictures 😉
LOL. The parade is coming back. We can tell by the vendor stampede. There was a race to get out of the way.
The parade looks much more vibrant once it gets dark. About 50% of the groups heading north cut out before turning around and coming back south. Some dancers looked as fresh as they did starting out. Others looked exhausted, having given it their all.
Two reasons the parade moves so slowly: people are always running out and taking pictures with the characters or dancing with the dancers (especially the scantily clad ones).
Thanks Cindi Trautwein for the below crowd pictures.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
‘Mardi Gras’ is French for Fat Tuesday. By its Latin roots ‘Mardi Gras’ means the ‘removal of flesh/meat’. Mardi Gras became a holiday in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII placed it on his Gregorian calendar the day before Ash Wednesday. It first appeared in North America in the late 17th century with the LeMoyne brothers’ claim on Louisiana. Although carnaval is widely celebrated, ‘Fat Tuesday’ is mostly a South American, a USA (New Orleans) thing and several other places.
The Tobins, we celebrate Fat Tuesday. Un ultimo pecado …… (One last sin.)
The traditional colors of Mardi Gras and the beads started with the king of the first daytime New Orleans Carnival in 1872. “He picked the colors to represent royalty: purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith.
In some countries, the today is called “Shrove Tuesday” after shrive, which means “to confess.” “This refers to the unofficial custom of going to confession on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday as a way of shedding sin and guilt before the spiritual journey of Lent.
The masks worn during the celebrations were to escape class constraints.
The Money Bar is exactly that … a money bar. Money-only bar. No credit cards accepted. It has a small reef popular for snorklers but the weather today was not in our favor.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Cockroaches are believed to have originated more than 280 million years ago, in the Carboniferous era.
Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.
A cockroach can live for a week without its head. Due to their open circulatory system, and the fact that they breathe through little holes in each of their body segments, they are not dependent on the mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can’t drink water and dies of thirst.
A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour. They hold their breath often to help regulate their loss of water.
Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a home very quickly. A one-day-old baby cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, can run almost as fast as its parents.
There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, including the most common species, the German cockroach, in addition to other common species, the brownbanded cockroach and American cockroach.
The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction to alcoholic beverages, especially beer. They are most likely attracted by the alcohol mixed with hops and sugar.
One of many pop-up dance troupes through out San Miguel between now and the end of Martes de Carnaval (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday).
Saturday Night – The first of the 3 Carnaval Parades. (Tonight, Sunday and Martes de Carnaval.)
Anticipation is building
And so it begins 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺
The parade rolls north up Avenida Rafael E. Melgar from Parque Quintana Roo to Plaza de las dos culturas. 1.5 miles up one side the parkway turns around and rolls 1.5 miles back down the other side the parkway.
🎶🎵 Let the whole world know that here is more!… Cozumel is carnival! 👑 🎉🌊💃👨 🎤🎭🎊
OMG! I caught a ball and was going to give it to a child. Sarah quickly stopped me.
Intermission – The first half the parade ran from about 6:30PM to 7:30PM.
I couldn’t figure out why many of the vendors were vending bags of eggs. Ahhhh. Kids were having egg fights. The eggs were filled with confetti.
After a short intermission of fireworks, about 8:30PM the parade started coming down the southbound side of Avenida Rafael E. Melgar, our side.
and there was sooooo much more.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the top carnivals in Mexico. It has been around for over 140 years making it one of the oldest in the country.
It is one of two festivals in the Yucatán Peninsula that has preserved traditional expressions of historical value and has become an event of heritage for the state of Quintana Roo. Carnaval de Cozumel is distinguished by its long history, its cultural aspects, its organization, and its family character.
Odds and Ends …. a.k.a. laundry day. Just a bunch of totally random stuff I’ve been collecting.
Cement window wall and railing styles. Just a few examples of the cement window wall and railing styles around the neighborhood.
More Traditional style
Carrying stuff – Very resourceful carrying things on scooters. The best I’ve seen for carrying stuff is sheet panes of glass. Missed that shot.
Passengers – Children learn at a very young age how be a passenger. Simply amazing. Remember trying to keep your kids in a car seat? The max I’ve seen on a scooter is 5 (2 adults, 2 small children and a baby) plus a dog. Missed that shot too.
There’s no good way to dispose of junked vehicles.
Marina and local police. Cozumel is a very safe place. There is a strong presence of military police and local, state and federal police.
Local police drive small cars like the one below or pickup trucks. I haven’t seen one on a motorcycle or scooter. They always have their roof rack lights blinking, not like in the USA.
According to one of our local Mexican friends, if there is a dead body discovered on Cozumel it is dragged it over to a beach at Playa del Carmen and left for them deal with. The last time it happened was several years ago. A ‘scout’ from a mainland cartel came over and was stirring things up a little too much. One of the local, Cozumel cartels killed him and put a sign on him and left him down by the marina. Local officials found the body and unofficially moved the body and sign to a Playa del Carmen beach.
Lets talk about food!
In case of Montezuma’s Revenge while on your vacation, drink one part of Coca Cola and fresh lime juice to get a happy tummy.
Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)
Almost all the barber shops have the traditional red white and blue barber poles.
In 1163, Pope Alexander III ordered monks and priests to stop performing bloodletting anymore, so barbers started offering the service instead. During the treatment, barber-surgeons would give patients poles to hold, the original barber poles.
The look of the barber pole to indicates that they were prepared to bleed their patients (red), set bones or pull teeth (white), or give a shave if nothing more urgent was needed (blue). Spinning of a barber pole sign is meant to move in a direction that makes the red (arterial blood) appear as if it were flowing downwards, as it does in the body. The pole itself is said to symbolize the stick that a patient squeezed to make the veins in his arm stand out more prominently for the procedure. The original pole had a brass wash basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin that received the blood).
Dale thinks he needs a haircut. I’m encouraging him to grow a pony tail and work on a man bun.