A Travellerspoint blog

WEEK 13

Chiapas

semi-overcast 17 °C

Chiapas week 13

We left Merida a bit earlier than we thought we were but luckily I noticed in time to not miss it. We arrived at the restaurant Ricosoldo early but we're let in just before opening time. Olga didn't show up in time to eat with us but she did take us to the bus station. The front seats turned out not to be a good choice but since the bus was not full we were able to move.

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There were blankets and pillows provided along with personal screens to watch a movie. I started but ended up reading instead and sleeping early. We arrived in Villahermosa around 4:00 am and thought we didn't have to far to go. It turned out not to be 12 hrs but more like 14. We got in at 9:30am and went straight to negotiate a taxi to the town called where we catch a boat ride to the canyon called. It was a two hr ride but the falls were all dried up. We did see some crocodiles and some heron. It was a hot day but with wind on a boat it didn't seem too bad

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Upon returning to the town we were offered a ride to San Cristobal de las casas for only 70 pesos (6$). So we took them up on it. It tuned out to be a small tour bus that had a few left over seats. After a lovely mango palleta we were on our way.

The hostel was ready to receive us and the rooms was huge

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We walked around the town we are close to where it is all happening. We at a delicious meal at this funky restaurant called Cocoliche chicken coconut soup. We were glad of someone warm as the weather was cooling off.

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The next day we had our adventure to San Juan de Chamula. The colectivo combie at 15 pesos was a bagain since the trip took 45 min. What a spectacular place the street entering was lined with vendors the lenght of th sidewalks and all around the square. We were told do not photograph people but there were some ignoring this. Every Friday during lent there is this ceremony outside the church. It was something out of some novel were experiencing. As you entered the church you were struck by its uniqueness. The mix of Christianity and native beliefs is outstanding. The pews are all gone from the inside that is lined with boxed in statues brought here by the spaniards. The floors are covered in pine needles and lit candles. It was so unbeleivable . While we were inside the procession of the people we had seen outside entered with their lovely incense and statue

We came out of this incredible place in aw of what we had experienced.

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Another wonderful day exploring San Cristobal. We wandered the street s and came upon a cafe called Frontera where we had a coffee. Only to later discover it is the number one restaurant on Trip Advisor. When we came out we went to see where this piano playing was coming from. There was another empty cafe with a gentleman playing. A woman stopped to ask him to play certain pieces. We continued walking towards churches as there are so many very different ones all over town.

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With a bit more research on the Internet we suddenly discovered that sat nights the locals sell tamales from their homes you find where they are by red lanterns outside their door. We thought lest check this out and with the recommendations of the Hostel manager we went to one not too far. Ahead of us was a local Mexican lady buying bolas that are made with corn husks we are partial to the ones using banana leaves. We requested one with saffron but she brought us one with mole. The local lady suggested we eat there so we could order more if we wanted. Ceci opened her door to let us into her home where we sat at her table while chatted. I shared with them a maple candy. What a wonderful discovery just in time and the cost was only $2.10 Canadian. (Yes that was the price for both of us ) For three tamales and atole made from fermented black corn boiled with milk an the put through a strainer then she adds sugar and red food coloring.

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Another incredible day. We headed off to find a 'collectivo' to Zanacantan
We hear that the market ended at noon so we scurried and ended up in a taxi. Upon arriving in the village after a winding road 40 min drive. We came upon nothing like it. What struck me over the other towns we have seen is how much the men walking around were also dressed up. The market was a bit small with tarps and a few tables set up beside the church. Suddenly I look up and notice this sea of purple and red entering the church. So we hurried over to see the procession of people with palm leaves entering the church.

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We then returned to the market and came upon two lovely ladies and started up a conversation with them about back strap weaving tools and if they had any for sale. They invited us to their home in a village away from there to show us how to do it. We looked at each other and said why not. What do we have to lose. We love these adventures to the unknown! They arranged for a taxi to take us and off we went. We had no idea where we were going except that there is a lake in this town. It turned out to be Navenchauc. Watching them set this up was really something. I wish I was better at expressing myself. We entered this tiny house where the two sisters lived with two other sisters and their three kids; two girls belonging to one and a son belonging to the other. They pulled out this piece of wood and sone cotton yarn and started making the warp then took it off the wood and set it up with other pieces of wood. I was taking lots of video but did I take some when Alexis was working away. No!! I can't believe I missed this. What was I thinking? Will Alexis ever forgive me?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4zYDUEaMC4

Once we spent two hrs with them and some had to run off to mass we packed things up and Alexis bought the whole thing from her and we walked off to town. She told us if we had anyone else that would like to learn to please let them know as we now have her home phone and cell. If anyone would like to learn how to use a back strap loom and are planning a trip to Chiapas I have their contact information. We walked off in aw with one of their looms all wrapped with the work started in a bag for just 500pesos. It is hard to explain what we had just experienced. This had been such an honor being there in their home with them showing us how to do it. I felt very emotional as I left the town. As I was going up the winding roads back to San Cristobal i reflected on these lovely people and how they live with their traditions intact despite the rest of the world and its changes. I equate it to the Massai in East Africa. They embrace certain things that are convenient such as a cell phone but continue to dress as they always have. Allowing us to spend this time in their home was really incredible to say the least. This is something I will never forget!

Back in town we stopped off to change our ticket to Oaxaca for tomorrow. We made a mistake and forgot that we were overnighting to Oaxaca. All is good we got a days worth back from the hostel and will keep the plans in Oaxaca.

On our last day in San Cristobal we wandered around looking for things we had not done but there really was only on thing and that was to visit a woman's cooperative where we met some lovely shy ladies who are weavers and it turned out the scarves we chose were the ones their village does. We didn't want to put them on the spot and see if the ones we chose were their work! We took this trolley around the town to see if there was anything we missed but it turned out we had covered it all. With the traffic being so bad we were able to sneek some photos of the people on the street

There should be many more photos here but after an hour of trying to get them loaded I am giving up! Maybe I will get them in later.

Posted by OhUiginn 19:58 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

WEEK 12

FINAL WEEK ON THE BEACH!

sunny 32 °C

Hard to believe it is now 3 months since we came down to sunny warm Yucatan. I have been taking it easy this week with very little activity so as to be relaxed when I head into the interior.

The highlight of this week has to be the BBQ party I had here to celebrate Len's birthday. He was delighted with the tres leche cake provided by his lovely wife Bonnie! (they are visiting the Hums from Ottawa)

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We were 12 people this time and we fit nicely around my big dining table.

I prepared the lovely ginger marinade for the pork tenderloin I had along with another package from the Wheelers we both got at Costco; it was delicious as always. My new fav tenderloin recipe that I found on the internet when visiting my parents in Cabo last November! The Wenzl's provided us with delicious apps and the Murray's brought lovely spanish rice! What a lovely way to use up all our excess food! I did put chicken on the BBQ and kept a close eye on it this time. Rocky from next door must be the culprit as he was over like a shot when he smelt the meat cooking. I wondered who stole it last time and now I know!

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I have really enjoyed this week with packing and knitting by the pool along with floating in the ocean with Louisette speaking French. I think I have spoken more French down here than I ever do at home. With my friends here for two weeks and my immediate neighbours from Quebec City!! It has been a delight showing her how to use her iPad; every couple of days she comes over with a list of questions ahead of time. Louisette goes away all happy and confident with her new device!

I sit here watching the calm ocean and suddenly appears a man on his horse slowly walking along! This seems to be a daily occurrence these days! I watch a piece of aluminum foil dancing around in the light breeze with no control over where it will go next. I think of myself as that piece of foil at times with my life! I wonder if this is good or if I should be concerned! I decide to get dressed and go for a walk on this beach! What am I doing sitting here!

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Merida has a small market on Sundays along the sidewalks of Paseo Montejo called: It was a delight to stroll along the Paseo Montejo with the market on one side and the cyclists on the road for the "BiciBike" This certainly is where you see the most interesting bikes.

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Check out this great use of old tires and computer monitors!

A stop at the new Costco was requested by my friend Linda but we quickly realized that it was a crazy idea but a stop to see the new Cenote they discovered during the building of this place!

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Trying to eat up all the food in the house so the best way to do that is to invite friends to share it. I love making my salad with papaya; avocado and grapefruit on top of a bed of lettuce topped with bbq chicken. Yummy! This is one of my go to favourites and I had all the ingredients last night! Catherine, Rainer and Linda joined me for the afternoon of swimming and dinner. It has been a lovely time getting to know Rainer better and renewing my old friendship with Catherine. We met when I was only 8 years old on our street on Green Island! They presented me with a lovely water colour painting that Rainer had done down here! I want to take it home but afraid of it getting damaged! I managed to get it into my bag and keep my fingers crossed it does ok! It is so nice to hear how much the Wenzl's have enjoyed their winter here. This place really grows on you!

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One last visit to Merida was in order and I can't stop myself from taking photos of doors and windows as I walk around the city!

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All packed and ready to start our road trip by bus to the interior. One more sleep on the beach! Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.

Posted by OhUiginn 14:53 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

WEEK 11

MISSING DARA

sunny 32 °C

At times I can't believe we have been here this long and other times it seems I have been here for ages. My stay on the beach is fast approaching the end. Preparations are being done by Alexis as to where and what we should see on our trip to the interior. I am pretty much leaving it up to her to do all the research and I shall go along with whatever. Richard, who knows the area well, has said to come on by with a notebook to get his input. 

I had another visit to the dentist as I had to have a root canal through his lovely new crown. He brought in a specialist to work in his office so that he could watch over. After two hours of open mouth and one dentist taking turns after the other and changing chairs back and forth I was tired. I didn't feel all that well on the way home on the bus so upon arrival instead of lunch I went straight to bed; something I rarely do. I slept for 2 hrs and yet still manage to go to bed early! My jaw was sore from being open for so long but all is done and I am please with the outcome. If I feel the need for a new crown he will do that on the house!! Let me tell you the cost for that dental visit was only 1300pesos that translated into Canadian dollars is a measly $110 yes you heard that right there are no zeros missing there. He told me I got a 50% discount because I have recommended so many people. Even if I had paid the 100% I would still have paid a fraction of what it costs at home; oh and he threw in a cleaning to the mix on the house! Now you can understand why coming here for your dental work makes sense. 

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Here is the lovely shrug my Mexican friend put together with my flowers I made 20 years ago! I am so pleased I brought it down here to complete!

Friday I was invited along with some friends to Merida to watch the Pok ta Pok (the mayan ball game) first we went for dinner at Panchos (a tourist spot for Mexican food that is quite nice) I am not one to frequent these spots as I find them more expensive. They are popular with Mexicans and Tourists but I have my favourites. I have to say though that the atmosphere here is lovely and sitting on the rooftop with the view of the cathedral is really nice; not to mention the Mayan Coffee show! (my pics didn't turn out so these were found online!)

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Off to the ball game after dinner; we should have left earlier as finding a decent seat wasn't easy. The one thing I find about living here is how much there is to see and do. You could be busy every night if you wanted to. In Merida it can be a overwhelmed by how much there is to see and do. There is a free cultural or family activity every day of the week, but this was one I had not seen year: the ceremonial ball game played by the ancient Mayans, Pok ta Pok. The city offers visitors and locals alike a chance to see the game played every Friday night and so I was glad to get a chance to see it before I left. I wish Dara had known about it before he left. Just another thing on my list to do with him next year! I think next year I would like to stay in Merida a few days to see more what it is like through a few of the nights. There are so many places to stay at such a reasonable price. 
Instead of the more traditional ball court seen by friends in Palenque and elsewhere; this game takes place right in the middle of Calle 60, in the Plaza Grande in front of the Cathedral, which is closed off to traffic for the evening. The event starts with Mayan rituals of prayer and incense. The game itself is pretty intense with each team using their hips and legs to try and hit the ball past the other team. For especially skillful shots, players aim to send the ball through an elevated hoop. The players definitely had no easy task, flinging themselves onto the street with only leather pads to protect their hips and legs.

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The large ball is traditionally made from rubber and we enjoyed watching the players skillfully bounce it into the air and at one another. For the final match the players parted with tradition and brought in a whole new ball. We watched in awe as they lit the ball on fire and used their bare hands to pass the fireball! 

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You can't visit us here without a weekend dinner out at our favourite fish restaurant; so with Bonnie and Len here from Ottawa staying with the Hums they invited me along to walk the beach to Chicxulub. There was no disappointment there. 

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In the afternoon I had a lovely visit with Claudia by the pool and this lovely picture of horse riders arrived:

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We were relaxing and enjoying it until the wind died and then the rain came straight down!

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So when my friends Catherine and Rainer asked me to join them again on Sunday after my working at the Foodbank how could I refuse. It was certainly a lot busier than the night before as Sundays are really family day and with it being a long weekend there are that many more down on the beach! No Jaguars or Mercedes today! We ate a different fish from the usual grouper but I can't remember the name. It was slimmer but just as tasty! The line ups of people buying the fish and taking it home was probably the longest I have seen in awhile! 

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Spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool with the new grandparents; Rainer's son just had a baby girl and FaceTime was certainly in order! 
With my quiet week I managed to finish my sweater shawl and start on my complicated cardigan 

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I heard from Dara and he is doing well. He has had some tough days but all good! 

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Well we should finish off with HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY TO ALL MY IRISH FAMILY AND FRIENDS and those of you who wish you were Irish! Slante! Missing Dara! 

Posted by OhUiginn 16:16 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

WEEK 10

ALONE!

Dara left bright and early with our friendly reliable driver Gustavo! I felt mixed emotions when he departed! Believe it or not, I find it hard to express my feelings! I am not sure how I feel about him gone away for 2 months. We have this understanding of not holding one another back from doing our own thing but I feel we need to do more together!

We had a the largest group of ladies today and it was great fun. Our friend Carole came by to say hello with her sister Lucy and her son Tim and they dragged me away to El Corchito for the afternoon. I had not been there yet this year and the day was a scorcher so it was so nice to be there where the mangroves keep it pleasantly cooler. The crystal clear water of my favourite cenote was a delight to swim in. I never felt cold but pruned up a little before I got out. Unfortunately we never did see any coatis just some friendly racoons. They certainly are smaller than their Canadian cousins.

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Muelle market day is always a fun day to catch up with people and buy some home made delights; but I still have way too much food to eat on my own so I restrained myself to just a chocolatin. Another hot day but the indoor marketplace stays quite nice because of the high ceilings and the fans! The crowds were a little less than last month so my help was not as much needed at the Food Bank table so I left with Alexis to go and get our bus tickets for our trip to the interior.

We are leaving a bit earlier, on the 25th as we save 20% on our ticket to Tuxla Gutierez in a sleeper bus for 12 hours (are we nuts?) From there we head to Oaxaca for another 5 days before ending up in Mexico City. From there we hope to do small day trips and overnights but where we haven't quite decided yet! Ask me in three weeks if this bus ride was a good idea!! Stay tuned for our blogs!

Alexis, Diane and I got together at our friend Linda's house to do some nuno felting on a cotton gauze (almost cheese cloth like) we were not sure how this would work. I just don't have the patience for the work that has to be done to felt it. I tried for an hour and gave up but upon further looking over my scarf I think that with a little bit of more work and patience I might be able to get a decent scarf our of it!
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One of the highlights of coming here is the Merida Music festival; it is a young festival only it's fourth year but well worth it. The Hacienda, where it’s held, is well worth the entrance fee on it's own. We all said we should return and renew our vows all together. It sleeps 12 people in 6 rooms for CD$15,400. (that is for a week) LOL I could see Sheena and Adam liking this spot for a wedding !! LOL
Check out the webisites one of the Hacienda and the other of the Festival 

http://www.meridamusicfestival.com/
http://haciendadzibikak.com/?lang=en
http://www.vrbo.com/419530#rates (in case you want to book it for a wedding!)

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I was back in the Merida English Library with a few beach friends to knit or crochet hats for the kids. I was surprised to find out that it is the only hospital south of Mexico City dealing with Cancer Kids. They come from miles away including Belize; no wonder they keep seeing so many; 26 leukaemia kids just last week. Many of the hats now have a few more details to them so as to delight the children. Two ladies are working on angry bird hats and minion hats and the kids get so excited to receive them. It helps to know that all these hundreds of hats we have been making on the beach are really coming to good use.
As I sit here finishing up this blog and the sun is shinning, I suddenly hear some water and thought the water tank next door was overflowing; no it was a sun shower that came by to wet everything in just a matter of a few secs and disappear just as quickly as it arrived. A nice cool down after all of the heat.

more photos of my walks around Merida!

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Posted by OhUiginn 15:22 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

WEEK 9

DARA'S LAST WEEK

sunny 28 °C

Just as we find a nicer spot to play euchre and have it on Wednesday we find out that Elly May is closing Quinta Progreso on the weekend; but we can continue to play only we will not be able to order drinks or food. We decide that it is nicer place and will continue to come on Wednesday.

We decide to go on a road trip to Campeche by the local bus ADOgel . Well talk of luxury and this isn't the top of the line. Platino is where the seats recline completely flat for sleeping. We shall be taking one of those for our trip to Chiapas and Oaxaca. I could not reach the foot rest in front of me. We are given a drink and headphones to listen to the movie or TV program. The very smooth ride took 2:30 hrs. Once we found our hotel we headed to the pedestrian street for lunch where Alexis, Linda and I enjoyed a fabulous salad last year. A small salad could feed a family! Dara opted for a baguette sandwich.

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This street is where some beautiful bronze statues are on display. I realized that they were different from last year so upon inquiring they told me they change them every year.

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We were able to check in to our lovely quaint 8 room hotel around 3pm in time for us to take a bit of a rest before heading out to explore more of this beautiful clean and colourful city

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We came upon the gate to the city and this kind gentleman asked if we wanted to go on the wall. It was still under renovations but very close to completion; all we had to do when we finished was ring the bell

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this guard I think has been here a bit too long!

views from the wall of the city were interesting. Some of the painted walls and doors had nothing behind them!

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We went looking for an interesting place for dinner and came upon this lovely little chocolate restaurant; for a change in food it was nice to share a ham and cheese crepe followed by a spicy mango one for dessert along with a mokaccino.

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Once we finished it was still quite early so I wasn't ready to retire so I suggested we look for a place to have a beer. We stumbled upon a new place that hasn't been open very long. The selection of beers is the largest I have ever seen in mexico. Check out just the Mexican artisan beer list.

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walking around town after dark was a whole different site. I just love the lite up cathedral

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The next morning I had to take a few photos of our hotel as the light displayed the beauty of this delightful little inn Socaire

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There are two forts that protected this walled city but only one has a museum which makes it more worthwhile. We could have easily taken a taxi but how boring is that; we ventured over to the market area and asked for a 'colectivo' to ride for a fraction of the cost.

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Check out this reflection of me taking the photo of this lovely mask!
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Before leaving I had to take a few more photos of this spectacular walled city. You can see why UNESCO chose it to their list.

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We only spent one night as we were heading back to join Andy and Alexis for a meal in Merida and take in the Paseo Montejo Fiesta Mexicana .
We found a great little restaurant Rescoldos. which apparently means. "burning ember". run by a Canadian for the past 6 years. Alexis ordered a pizza that was cooked in a pizza oven they created from an old water cistern and produce some of the best wood oven fired pizza she has had. My ravioli was unique as it was a crusty pasta and my desert must be repeated on another trip to Merida. I chose passion fruit gelato that was one for the memory stick! I think there is another visit to this place soon!

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To end the week we celebrated Dara's birthday with friends and a lovely meal in our home. Andy was in charge of the BBQ as that is his specialty. Dara could learn a few lessons from him. Everyone brought some food to share and we finished it off with probably the best "tres leches" cake we have eaten that we ate outside on our patio enjoying light evening breeze while our friend John played the guitar and we all sang along.

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our piggy BBQ is so adorable

Suddenly I remembered I had put two chicken breast on the BBQ pig to use up the coals that were there so as to have cold grilled chicken. I went out to find that someone has stolen one of the pieces; and it was the bigger of the two of course!

Dara will leave here tomorrow to head home before he starts his pilgrimage in Sukoku Japan for the next two months.

Posted by OhUiginn 13:12 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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