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Month: February 2020

It’s a whole new world

It’s a whole new world

29-Febrero-2020, Sábado. Mérida, Yucatán

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.

Baroque style Rectoria El Jesus Tercera Orden. Construction started in 1618.

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.

Passage of the Revolution
The statue slowly turns to chrome

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.

Buenas noches

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.

The road to Mérida

The road to Mérida

28-Febrero-2020, Viernes. Mérida, Yucatán

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.

Buenas noches

The little guy starts running faster as the seconds count down.

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

Dive another day

27-Febrero-2020, Jueves. Cozumel

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 aboutFinal 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.

About town

I really love this mural. This is Cozumel to me more so than any other mural.

Buenas noches

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).

Carnaval takes its last breath

Carnaval takes its last breath

26-Febrero-2020, Miércoles. Cozumel

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.

concurso de alegóricos – allegorical contest

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.

concurso de comparsas – comparsas contest

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.

concurso de disfraces categoría de mascota – costume contest pet category
Dale’s favorite ‘Eco-Pops’ (the outhouse guys) won the ‘Funny’ award.

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

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.

Will and testament read by the Rey del Carnival (King).

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.

And so it ends. Carnaval takes its last breath.

Buenas noches

Ladies Salsa Dancer Trophy

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Carnaval 2021 will be February 10-17. Start planning now!

Martes de Carnaval

Martes de Carnaval

25-Febrero-2020, Martes. Cozumel

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

Mariachi pants – horse head rivets

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.

Vendors

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.

vendor stampede

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).

Crowd shots

Thanks Cindi Trautwein for the below crowd pictures.

Buenas noches

Sweet dreams.

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.)

Great marketing by Oreo. Cookies and milk packaged together.

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

The Money Bar

23-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

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.

Buenas noches

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.

Sweet dreams zzzzzzzzzzzz

Here’s another picture just to help you sleep.
Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll

22-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel.

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).

Clown troupe at the Municipal Market.

Saturday Night – The first of the 3 Carnaval Parades. (Tonight, Sunday and Martes de Carnaval.)

Daddy and daughter off to see the parade

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! 👑 🎉🌊💃👨 🎤🎭🎊

Many of the floats tossed beads and candy. Some tossed plastic Carnaval 2020 cups and balls.

OMG! I caught a ball and was going to give it to a child. Sarah quickly stopped me.

Whoa!

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.

The End.

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.

Just hanging

Just hanging

20-Febrero-2020 to 21-Febrero-2020, Cozumel.

Sarah!
Jueves – Day pass to the luxury, all inclusive Park Royale.
Viernes – Discover scuba with Eric Sr

Buenas noches

Oopsies. I just noticed my camera is only good to a depth 65 feet. Guess I shouldn’t have had it at 90 feet.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

In terms of biological diversity, Mexico is said to be home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity.

cookie and snack diversity en la casa
Crowning Carnaval

Crowning Carnaval

19-Febrero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Hi Sarah!

Crowning Carnival

The to-be royalty arrive.

The Queen of Carnaval is crowned first and then she crowns her King.

The King and Queen of Carnaval preside over the crowning of the other royalty.

Combs or bobby-pins to hold the crown on???? Definitely bobby-pins. Sarah’s trained eye from having been Miss Rice Street and working with the West St. Paul Royalty picked that out quickly.

Quick stop at the grocery store to pick up milk, bread and cereal.

always something new to see – enchilada craisins.

Buenas noches

Squirt 81

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Dale still makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world.

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends

18-Febrero-2020 Martes, Cozumel.

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

Contemporary style

Railings

Transportation

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.

Lanes

Random Picts

There’s no good way to dispose of junked vehicles.

Joy rides

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.

This guy is waving to me ’cause I waved to him. (He’s not hiding is face. Just a bad picture.)

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.

Buenas noches

Lets talk about food!

mixed seafood ceviche (no, I didn’t order it)
Ceviche is marinated in lime juice, cilantro, onions and tomatoes. It comes in pulpo (octopus), pescado (fish), caracol (conch), camaron (shrimp) or mixto (mixed). If you get the little conch eyeballs and mouth parts in you ceviche it’s called tuchitos (“little boogers” in Mayan)

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.

Americano cut vs Mexican cut of meat
In big grocery store two cuts of meat are available; Americano cut which is thicker Mexican cut which is thinner. Only the prime cuts come in both cuts.
Elote (Mexican grilled corn)
Served smothered in mayo, sprinkled with cotija cheese plus a little hot sauce. Yum. The corn is not sweet here like it is the USA. It’s a little tough too. Good roughage.

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.