A Travellerspoint blog

February 2017

Valerie's second week

Week 12

sunny 34 °C

We had ordered a car online from our trusty car rental site and found a great two day deal. We picked up the car the night before our trip to Campeche allowing us to enjoy an evening in Merida at the new Mercado 60. With it being so close to Eric's parents hotel, we asked Bernie and Kathleen to join us. It is a market of 18 High-end restaurants in one location. It resembles a food court with a wonderful atmosphere. Hot dogs and burgers, Argentinian grill to Sushi and even French Crepes. A new concept of convenience, culture and gastronomy! Since we were leaving early the next morning we left at 9, just as it started to get hopping, I enjoyed the meal and our company

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Before going to this spot we stopped by to pick up my painting from Steven Lemire of Vancouver, that I bought during the "Merida Art Walk", giving Dara the opportunity to meet this lovely couple and see their magnificent simple home!

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Trying to figure out where to take Val during her stay has been a difficult task as there were so many wonderful places to go. I had narrowed it to two places Valladolid or Campeche. The former won out and so off we went on a 2 1/2hrs drive along a very good highway. We returned to the same Hotel Socaire, we had stayed in, two years ago; except upon entering the lobby, I wondered if I had been dreaming this all up! With a confused look on my face I asked it there had been changes; they expanded into the mansion behind them and made this their lobby. Val was situated in the lovely new part complete with its own balcony! We were in the old part across by the lovely pool. It is a lovely boutique hotel with such a reasonable price. Valerie was in aw at the luxury as she had never stayed in such a lovely hotel before!

Check in was not until 3pm and so off we went to explore. Having been to the other fort on our last visit we went to the San Antonio one at the other end of the city

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Walking around the colourful town of Campeche is always such a delight. Their sidewalks in some areas are so high you worry about falling off into the road.

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Val was really gobsmacked by the history of the place both of the Mayan culture and the Pirate history of the place. Both ends of the wall are now fully renovated and open for visits. I think I prefer the one that is "City Door" rather than "Sea Door" What I mentioned the last time we were here is how you are able to see above the walls on the street of one area, is only just a facade and not a home. There are lots of trees growing inside. I never tire visiting this old walled city.

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Throughout the city there are bronze statues that we love to check out

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One of the streets Calle 59 is a pedestrian only and it is quite the different scene during the day vs night. It really comes alive and we were wishing we had come here for dinner. We know for next time. Upon our arrival driving along the 'Malecon' ( promenade along the waterfront) we noticed how deserted it was during the hot sunny day but it certainly comes alive at night: with Zumba classes playng their lively music made you want to join in; and joggers passing you by; we even came across the exercise machines that are clearly there for anyone's use.

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Our drive back we took a detour to go through a few small towns Becal where they make the ´Panama hats´ Stopping at this one home that has it all set up nicely to see the whole process of the making of hats in the cave and the dying followed by the shaping of the hats on the heated forms was very interesting and we walked away with two hats and a colourful basket!

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My memory of this small town was that all the houses were the old Mayan huts but as it turned out they are scattered around and only a few areas had several together. It is still a beautiful little town worth the trip. From here we travelled through Halacho, where we found this very old church

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But this time we were famished and so drove a little further to the Hacienda Santa Rosa where we had a delightful lunch.

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Back in Chicxulub and one day left with Val's visit I sent her off to see Uxmal with a couple and a driver! She was amazed at one of the great mayan ruins of the Yucatan. Exhausted after her long day we dragged her to the lovely Thai Bistro where we were meeting our old friends Rosy and Leo, (not at the Slow Food Market in Merida this time!!!).
This restaurant is worth the 30 min drive to Chuburna but we would love for them to move to Progreso. She is such a delightful person and full of piss and vinegar. I guess you have to be to run a restaurant !

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The monthly IWC meeting was a busy one today with a guest speaker (Professor somebody! )Talked about the Mexican constitution very fitting since we just celebrated the 100 years on Feb 5th of the New Mexican Constitution. What I found most interesting about this Constitution was that it was considered the most socialistic one in the world and many other countries formatted theirs after the one here. The presidents at the time chose not to enforce it until much later. It was not really convenient for them as it took too much power away from them.

After the break we heard from one of our scholarship students, about her 6 month community service, putting together a manual for the schools to follow teaching the kids about their equal rights as women and men in the Yucatan. Very well presented and now she goes away and prepares her thesis presentation, hopefully in August. It is so nice to hear updates from these lovely ladies we have helped pay for their education.

This month we followed the meeting with a special event attended by 40 of the members at the Lebanese club and church where we feasted on a full plate of Lebanese food!

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Once we were done we called the driver to take us to the airport where we dropped off Val and she was underway on her long flight home via Mexico City! Val came away with just a sample of what life in the Yucatan is like and wants to return longer next year and even bring other family members down too!

Every year we plan to meet up with our Landlords in Merida to discuss the following years plans and give them a deposit. We met at the lovely Olivia Enoteca Restaurant in Centro. This is one of those delightful top notch restaurants of Merida. Another delightful time spent with Carmencita and Gonzalo discussing their home and any issues we might have. They are delighted to continue with our renting their home for 3-4 months. They informed us that they will be installing Air conditioning in two of the four bedrooms, which will certainly make the hot nights more bearable.

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Posted by OhUiginn 09:49 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

My Cousin Valerie's Arrival

Week 11

sunny 26 °C

The airport was like old home week. I met up with so many people I knew taking their love ones to fly home or waiting for others coming on the same flight. With it being Valentine's Day the airport authority was handing out some lovely chocolate cake to everyone! It is more of a friendship day than one for couples!

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I arrived home to find these lovely bouquet of flowers from my honey! It is such a rare occurrence I am always surprised when it happens!

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We went to "El Gran Trumpo" restaurant for our Valentine's dinner with my cousin Val. We were very happy with our usual tacos al pastor either plain or mestizos. I always like the later as there is cheese added and everything tastes better with cheese. We didn't have the "Mexican Putine" as we need more people to eat a plateful.

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Dara took Val to see the Chicxulub food bank handing out the dispensa to the needy of this small fishing village. They are currently feeding 54 families once a month. I stayed home with my knitting buddies and enjoyed the natter.

Every year in February the International Woman's Club Merida, have High Tea on the beach and I volunteered to host it this year. Last year only two people showed up from Merida and six who live on the beach leaving a bad taste in us Beach Gals. This year the turn out was incredible with 18 people of which 12 were from Merida.

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I have took a photo of everyone in front of the Progreso sign on the Malecon

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Every year Manuel and his family hosts a Noche Mexicana. They entertain us with folkloric dancing and Mariachis while we eat cochinita pibil. Pulled pork cooked in a pit!

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I have taken a photo every time I have gone of Manuel's youngest son who is now 13. He was 8 when we first met him.

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Every two weeks Dona Mary makes wonderful Chile Rellenos and so I thought I would introduce this wonderful dish to Val and invited the lovely Murrays to join us at home. They are so tedious to make yourself that it doesn't make sense to even try when you can buy two for $4 and you can only eat one each!

With the wind having slowed down we have managed to get a few days swimming in the ocean much to Val's delight. The heat certainly gets to her! So a day in Merida will be interesting to see how she does.

For the past two years they have had An Art Walk in Merida and I have missed it so I wasn't going to this year making sure of it by putting it in my calendar. The wonderful thing was this happened to be when Val was here too. We Met the artists in their studios and Saw their lovely homes at the same time. I was able to purchase a few items to add to my collection including a piece by Steve Lemire , but I didn't get to bring my one tableau home yet. A lovely Vancouver couple were looking to sell their home and move to San Miguel de Allende, when Alexis and I went on a house tour. With a short time there and not having sold their home they returned to Merida where they plan to stay permanently. SMDA was not their scene. The other piece is by the sculptor Jorge Guerra. Here is the list of galleries
http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com/artist-studio-tour-merida/
We successfully went to 12 galleries out of 22 over the course of the whole day. Without a car it would be hard to manage any more. Some of these artists are already world renowned such as Kreso Cavlovic
http://www.sohogalleriesmx.com/kreso-clavovic.
He is off to Hong Kong for an exhibition. I'll make sure this is on my calendar for next year!

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The Symphony Orchestra of the Yucatan this week was one of the best so far this season; and I like the Rossini piece the best. https://www.sinfonicadeyucatan.com.mx/recursos/00temporadas/7/sonatas/7_14_45_hg3WY0.mp3.
The guest conductor, Lanfranco Marcelletiti, from Brazil was so exciting to watch. This being Valerie's first ever had orchestra concert, how lucky she was to experience such a great performance! We are so blessed to have access to so much culture here in Merida.
I stole these two photos from a friend as he was sitting up on the upper levels and you can see me in the second row on the left in yellow!

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I never tire walking around Merida and enjoying the beautiful buildings majestic and small; coloured and worn down. I hope you enjoy my obsession with these photos.
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Conversation chairs are scattered around the city in squares and on this lovely boulevard
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The same routine was repeated with Val in taking her from Santa Lucía park to the beginning of the Paseo Montejo where we stoped for pastries and croissants at Pistache followed by a coffee on the patio at Starbucks. Who could ask for a better day!

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I try to make Mondays a do nothing day as much as possible and with the cooperation of the weather, we had a relaxing float in the ocean twice; followed by an hour massage before dinner. With there being no wind the little "no see um" bugs were irritating us enough to have to move indoors.

Posted by OhUiginn 04:57 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Arrival of the Chawners!

Week 10

sunny

As I sit on my patio enjoying the gentle breeze and the sunset sky I feel so relaxed and blessed to be here . This is such a lovely place to be. There isn't the luxury of where my mom and dad live but this has a simple beauty. I think the magic of this place is it attracts like minded people. I know that everyone isn't my friend but I seem to be known by so many; I wish I had a better memory. I know faces but names escape me. If we all wore name-tags would that help? It would be weird; maybe tattoo our foreheads which would help in remembering our own names

We start off this week with the arrival of our friends Mick and Louise. I have known Louise for a very long time. Too many to count! Louise was one of my bridesmaids; and that wasn't yesterday!

We have now a little routine for our guests: they arrive followed by a lunch and relaxing drink on the patio. This is then followed by a walk along the beach and back to a cup of tea. Then later that evening we go to our local place for Tacos Al pastor! Do you think I will ever remember to take a photo of the menu to get the name of this place. I've called it now "Abierto". (Open). Since that is the only sign posted on the outside

A new revelation by Louise is was that we have penguins here! Yes she said she likes how the penguins dive! As Louise was saying this, she actually tried to correct herself and then said oh yes penguins! Pelicans to the rest of us. Mick of course will not go a day without mentioning them to her! There is a penguin in the pool next door maybe that is what got her confused. Old age is more likely!

A day of relaxing by the pool and swimming in the calm waters of the gulf was in order and this followed again the next day too. With no wind it is great to take advantage, as this isn't always the case.
It was time to show them a little bit of Progreso by going in and walking around at the end of a cruise ship day. With no buying in mind we just walked along the Melecon where we enjoyed the gentle breeze before heading to Faces for a delicious steak dinner.

One day of excursion is a must even if you are only here a week. We chose to take them to Mayapan with our trusty driver Carlos. Louise being a history major was quite intrigued by what our guide had to say. For the first time I was able to go up the pyramid and not have too much trouble breathing at the top.

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A visit to the Yucatan could not go without a swim in a cenote. We were able to get to two different ones before heading to a Hacienda for our lunch. The first one was a bit warmer but much deeper; can't quite figure that out as I would have thought it would have been the other way around. Jumping in off a platform was the highlight. Haven't been that brave in ages. Not sure what go over me and I did it twice!

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Following our swim we headed to a Hacienda San Pedro Ochil. What a beautiful site. Mostly just a ruin and they have set up a restaurant. The food was superb

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We bought Symphony tickets for them to join us in Merida for the Sunday routine. An early ride into town was a better idea as this allowed us to take them to Chaya Maya for a Mexican breakfast in this lovely spot.

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Chaya Maya restaurant is such a lovely setting!

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this lovely door was in the restaurant and I know how much Alexis loves doors. (I do too)

After hearing Beethoven's 5th played extremely well we ventured along Calle 60 to the usual Santa Lucia for a quick look at the dancing. It seems to be too loud for the old folks so a chocolate smoothie from the local chocolate shop was in order to take along with us for our walk to the bottom of the Paseo Montejo. Strolling along this wonderful boulevard in the heat of the day isn't so bad as there are plenty of lovely large trees to provide you with enough shade. A relaxing stop at the most beautiful Starbucks I have ever been to.

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the giant conversation chairs in Santa Lucia

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One of the lovely buildings along Paseo Montejo

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the lovely Starbucks

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Dara and I relaxing in Starbucks

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The regular conversation chairs!

A relaxing day at home was in order for the last day here! With the wind it meant the ocean was not quite as inviting. I ordered weeks ago a massage therapist that comes highly recommended around town. It has taken me until now to get an opening. Much to my surprise Louise has never had one and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She has a unique technique of massaging that I have not come across before!

Louise and Mick depart today and my cousin Val arrives for an 11 day visit on the same Westjet flight they are departing on!

Posted by OhUiginn 16:03 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Some time alone with Dara in Mexico City!

Week 9

sunny 29 °C

We started off this quiet week with a lovely dinner at the Alguire's home along with Jenny and Richard. Sharing their fall adventures made us look to what we hope to finally get to do this fall: Australia and NZ. A 60 day cruise from Vancouver and all around Australia, is certainly something to consider and then you stay a bit longer and pop over to NZ before flying home. I'll be looking into this option soon. We also heard of Kiwi express from several and that appeals to me with the Hop on Hop off bus from the North to the South.

Tamales Colados are the best kind. As mentioned in the past few years they take a lot more time to prepare but are well worth it. I have written the recipe down this time so as to replicate it this summer in Ottawa. I had been told to go an hour after Ada thought I was coming so the masa had already been prepared along with the shredding of the chicken breasts; even so it still took us 3 hours to make 55 of them. I wasn't quite sure why we were making so many for our group but as it turned out, Rosie had ordered 30 for the party, with the remainder going for herself and Poly! The afternoon was such a delight with these two ladies especially when I was invited to stay and have lunch. She prepared fajitas poblano. I didn't want to take a picture of it as this was their meal of the day! I did find the exact recipe; http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/creamy-poblano-pepper-strips-rajas-recipe.html
She had used the filets from the chicken breasts she cooked for the tamales. I felt so honoured being included in their meal. They later drove me home so that they could show me a few things along the way. Once at the house I found a small bottle of maple syrup to give them. I had explained to them about the process of making it over our lunch.

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the masa all ready and cooling

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the leaves being cleaned

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the putting all together

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the final step of putting the sauce on top

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In the pot ready to be steamed

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this is the manta ray

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all steamed and ready to eat

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the beautiful end product

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The gang enjoying their tamales!

It was certainly another busy day at the Muelle Market. The popularity is spreading! I helped Carmita at 'Asociacion de Mujeres de Chicxulub' table with the the bags etc as there were plenty of people at the food-bank. I have sold enough stuff to finance my three families for the next year and so anything they sell now will go to another project within the foodbank. Did you check out the photos I shared of the event on FB.

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Dara in Mexico City! Having a great time with old friends. He didn't want me along to spoil his fun!

As I am heading out the door; to my surprise the lovely Ada comes to my door bringing this plate of grilled tamales; I just happened to mention never having tried them. Unfortunately even though they were nice and warm, I had already plans so they waited for the next night, to be shared with the 'New York Boys' on my terrace. I was going out early as I could not stand the digger two doors down going back and forth and the reverse noise they can't turn off over and over again. It is a form of Chinese torture I am sure. I guess when you are a construction worker you tune that out so that must defeat the purpose of this damn thing anyway. LOL. I am told this construction will go on until July! the house looks massive but hard to tell just yet.

Last year while sitting at this lovely Korean restaurant friends of mine from Ottawa, came around the corner and so when I was back at the Slow food market sipping on a coffee I thought to myself; I wonder if I might see Rosie and Leo again, this time knowing that they were due sometime soon in Merida! I get up from the table and go around the corner and there they were! This was meant to be our rendezvous place in this universe! Their friends are friends of the lady who comes to the Muelle Market, with her organic produce. We had a good laugh about this coincidence. They will soon be heading to the beach in Chelem and we shall have to meet up for dinner!

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The Sunday flea market in the Chuburna Hidalgo Market in Merida is always fun; and you never walk away empty handed. I now have four margarita glasses I wanted and a few pairs or earrings I really didn't need.

Walking to this flea market we came across all sorts nice shots! Because I had taken a photo of a house for sale this little lady thought she should point out all the others that are for sale along this calle 19!
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This play house was in front of the big house

We were done early and so grabbed an Uber to Plaza Angel to try out this new restaurant Merci. Being Sunday it was brunch menu but had plenty for anyone to choose. Linda's croque monsieur were quite interesting topped with two eggs!

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Linda has taken a shine to these new retro chairs seen all over the place called 'Acapulco chairs'. I wouldn't mind one or two of these!

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I look out into the lovely calm ocean today and to my delight I spot something in the water; half hoping it its the manta ray again as I had been told she had babies but it was three dolphins swimming along. They don't stay around as do the mantas. It is lovely to see the locals stop to watch the graceful performance as well as us.

Waiting for the arrival of our friends, Louise and Mick, from back home; and Dara is returning from 5 days in Mexico City!

Posted by OhUiginn 12:03 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

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