A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico

Week three

Food Bank and Merida

semi-overcast

This week our focus was on the foodbank. Dara ventured for the first time to help with the filling of the bags as I was back in Merida for another dental visit! On the 14th of the month volunteers show up at 10am and fill the new blue donated reuse able bags with the same food every month. Bottle of oil, beans, rice, sugar, cookies, powdered milk, salt, pasta, and a bag of laundry soap.
Yesterday Dara managed to get to help fill the bags for the Chix Food Bank, while I was in Merida at a dentist appt. 62 families came by for their bags that are now a cloth bag that Karen Parsons brother donated. Each family is to bring their bag back empty and are given a full bag. They have to return home for their bag if they forgot it. This was really good as seeing those plastic grocery bags going out every month was not great.

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A walk into Chicxulub along the beach, with the Hum gang was in order today and what else we love to do is have two Panuchos each with chicken and a large glass of oj and carrot juice! What could be better!

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On our walk home along the road, we made a new discovery, since last year, on the wall of one side of the street Is some incredible street art. It was too funny how Dara and Andy were walking ahead of us and never even noticed this art work, and to make things even worse was Dara had walked this road several times already. This confirms that men just don't observe their surroundings!!!!

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What I love about sitting out on our patio is anything can happen to go by. This week it was the sudden arrival of these fishermen bringing their huge catch in to someone on shore. I got up to take photos only to discover our caretaker Tony was buying them all. Maybe they will bring us some fried fish for dinner!!!!

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During the night we were woken by a sudden "Norte" and had to batten down the hatches. With this wind you really can't sit outside on your deck and luckily we had plans to go into Merida with our friends Ian and Sheila, to the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra for its opening performance for the 12th year. It was packed with 75% grey haired expats and the rest Mexican nationals. The Mexicans usually attend the Friday night performance, but that is at 9pm and makes for an impossible return to the beach as the buses stop at 10pm.

We were entertained with some incredible pieces and they did a wonderful job. They initiated there season with walses and overtures of two composers Austrian and the Franco-German Jacques Offenbach with the " Life is Beautiful" also known as the 'Can-can' Followed by the Arlesian Suite by BIzet with the Blue Danube by Strauss to finish it off. It was quite an exuberant 2 hours. Everyone including the musicians seemed to have a great time.

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Inside the Teatro Peon Contreras

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Santa Lucia Square with the weekly Sunday dancing

Sunday's is the big Artesean market day in Merida in the Grand Plaza. The square has two rows around the square of vendors. I just love looking at what they have to offer. I found myseld a new larger brim 'Panama hat'. Along with a few necklaces out of coconut shells and one with tawa beads (from Peru). I went looking for a black necklace and a coconut shell and found this dyed black coconut shell that I just love. I also had come across some jewelry the other day that I loved but was too expensive so I thought I would see if anyone in the market would have them. This Tawa or Tagua seed along with another that I can't remember the name! [ Tagua : The Queen of all nuts, known as ivory nut or vegetable ivory (a sustainable alternative to animal ivory).Originally grows in the tropical rainforest of northern Ecuador but can be found in other parts of South America as well.
Actually grows on a palm tree (Phytelephas Macrocarpa), the nuts is a dried seedpod of the palm, that is called vegetable ivory.]

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After a long day in Merida we caught the bus back to Progreso and Dara was asleep in a matter of seconds!

My day didn't end so well with a bout of food poisoning from some mayo dressing I had saved from an open packet. That is all I can think it was as Dara ate the same salad but didn't have the dressing. Oh what a night. I was exhausted and took yesterday easy and relaxed knitting and binge TV watching onNetflix!

Posted by OhUiginn 07:01 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Week Two

Settled in nicely

semi-overcast 27 °C

Another week here in our winter home. It is so nice to be where the weather is warmer than home. I have decided to avoid winters at home as much as possible and return when the weather is a bit warmer. Don't get me wrong I do love being in Ottawa when the weather is more to my liking.

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It is quite exciting to see more and more arrivals of our friends on the flight direct from Toronto to Merida. It feels like being at Uni when the return of your friends to residence!

A few newcomers joined our Wednesday Stitch and Bitch, that started back up this week; we discovered a new way to start "toe up socks". Since they are visual and couldn't understand the pattern; so I did a demo! Looks like another good year of crafting at my home got off well!

Monday's and Wednesday's our neighbour hosts an informal language class for an hour. Here the Mexicans are to speak in English and the expats are to speak in Spanish. Dara and I often pop in to help with the conversations. We especially like to go on Jan 6th for the Rosca De Reyes celebration. AKA Little Christmas; Three Kings Day. I am going to quote my friend Alexis here as she so eloquently explained this in her blog this week

"It is traditionally eaten on January 6 during the celebration of the Día de Reyes (literally "Kings' Day"), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and sometimes, Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus or Father Christmas). In Mexico before children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass for the animals the Wise Men ride, along with a note.
The tradition of placing a trinket (a figurine of the Christ child) in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod's Massacre of the Innocents. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2 (Candlemas Day, Día de la Candelaria). In the Mexican culture, this person has the responsibility of hosting a dinner and providing tamales and atole to the guests."

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I was one of the many lucky ones to find the baby Jesus. I will have to help host the party we will have back at her place. I plan to make the tamales as I did last year with a local lady in her home. Stay tuned in Feb.

Another start to the bi-monthly "Muelle Market" had a great turn out. A few years ago I used to have my own table but now I help out a bit at the Chicxulub food bank table.

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Here we can find all sorts of great crafts and homemade food from croissants to German Sausage and handmade bags to jewelry. Olga has returned with my favourite cotton clothing. I must resist as I have way too much of it already in my wardrobe. (Maybe just one more top!)

The international Women's Club has a beach sub-group called the Seaside Senoras. I offered my home for our meeting to discuss what we will be doing at the monthly meetings in Merida that we will host for the next three months; and the speakers we have found. Once a month there are also "Hi Tea" that are hosted in different people's homes and a monthly coffee meeting also held at someone's home. Stay tuned as I will attend this months today. Another event which I have so far never attended is the breakfasts at the Hyatt hotel, on the third Thursday of the month; and not sure I plan to do so. As a sub-group the GORRO Girls also meet at the Merida English Library every other Monday to knit chemo hats for the Children's hospital. If you think that there would be enough hats by now think again. This hospital serves all of the South Eastern Mexico and Belize. For some reason there are more boys than girls. Marianne and another person whose name escapes me at the moment go every Thursday to deliver the hats along with an activity book; crayons and a small toys. They also have a fundraiser of an afghan they have made and then raffle it off once a year to raise money for these items along with medicine they pay for them to take home with them for a few months.

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Seaside Senoras

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The hats many have made check out the motorcycle, the car and the soccer ball hat!

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Here is the afghan being raffled

Euchre has found a new location this year at Sol y Mar restaurant held on Fridays. I like how relaxed the group is as this is the only place I play the game. It is just a card game and nothing more you get to socialize with some people you don't see any other time.

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The new location is really nice and no dogs!

Here we are spontaneous and do what comes along and eat where and when we feel like. We tried out Barloventos Friday Fish Fry with our friends Ian and Sheila and then on Saturday we ventured on foot to the new India restaurant; "Saboreando Comida India" with the Gang at the Hums. This is a great addition to our culinary selection in Progreso. The menu is fixed for 16$ with an Appetizer; and two courses. they are open only three evenings a week and change the menus every week. We started Jalapeño and Cumin spiced paneer cakes with a wonderful homemade tamarin sauce followed by Curried lentils with Bell peppers; beef kebobs in Bengali curry ; Beth's with tropical flavours along with Basmati Rice. The second course was just as delicious as the first with grouper Fish filets with sour real curry (to die for) and Muttakos Kari, Cabbage with Mustard and Coconut and Nimboo Bhat rice.

There is a craft market on Cruiseship Day brings out what used to be great crafters. I ventured to check them out this week and was quite disappointed; so I am not sure I will venture there again. When you compare it to the one we have in Chicxulbu bimonthly and the one in Merida, this one isn't worth my time anymore!

The cruise ship is back in today. I hear there are three this week!

Posted by OhUiginn 07:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Another Year in Paradise Begins!

WEEK ONE

overcast 24 °C

Here we go again on another winter in the Yucatan,
Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my stay.

It started with a 6 hour delay out of Ottawa due to weather; I am so glad we found out the night before as a 4am departure from home would not have been nice. As it was we left in a winter storm to the airport at 9:30am.

I have never seen such an empty Ottawa airport; there were only two flights departing this morning Westjet and a Sunwing. With just a little further delay due to de-icing we were on our way. Our plane was full and I would say about 25 people were heading to Merida after we landed; I did try and bribe the pilot with chocolates, to make a quick stop over in Merida to let us off but he was not convinced. I had arranged for a driver to pick up 10 of us at the airport. The others were having to take the bus and god knows when they were going to get away ( as it turned out they didn't get to their place until 3:00am). We arrived to our home at 10:30, our friends Austin and Lorraine were too late for their agent and so spent the one night with us.

Now if there is one thing I always try to remember and that is my key to the cupboard we store our things here. I have two of these damn things and do you think I brought either of them!! No such luck. I was sure I had packed one early on in my packing! I also had a dentist appointment at 10amthat I had to get to Merida for. So after throwing all I had out of their bags and strewn everywhere I ran out the door to get my bus. Luck have it a car stopped and offered me a ride to Progreso but since they were going all the way to the Casino in Merida I was fortunate to get all the way in to town.

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The fun begins at the dentist. At home my dentist revealed that I had cavities under my crowns and one being my nice new one from last year! I also pulled out my other crown eating a tough toffee. A few more visits to Peniche will have me all fixed up for a fraction of the cost at home. I can fly and rent my house for three months for the cost of my dental work at home! Which would you choose to do?

A big trip to Costco is always a must when you arrive for the essentials and a few other items the other stores don't carry or charge way more. I buy local for most of the stuff I like. The new Costco has a 'cenote' (sink hole) in the parking lot

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We decided as a group of 6 we would join our friend Linda and celebrate the New Year at Lizard Joes in Chalem ( Little Texas) just west of where we are! (Last year I said I was going to go to Barlovento, but I went with the flow). Well we had included in our VIP tickets transportation to and from the place. Our delightful jovial driver mentioned his son works there as a waiter! There was a bit of a confusion as we had two tables booked one in VIP and one not. After sorting this out we were brought our drinks in plastic cups and asked to choose from chicken pasta or 3 chicken tacos for dinner. This arrived on paper plates and plastic forks. I tell you this was not a good sign. The band was mediocre despite Linda's friend Bev' husband singing with some known singer from Texas who now lives in Puerto Vallarta. He should have stayed at his restaurant and performed there. I saw lovely pictures of proper dishes and cutlery at Barlovento: We did have unlimited drinks and champagne at new year for 68$ each. The party I would have preferred had a fantastic buffet with real plates for 24$ each with drinks at half price. I go with the flow and wish now I had spoken up. I have to let it go and enjoy the rest of my stay!

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We ended our week with a trip to El Patrullero Fish Restaurant in Chicxulub

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It didn't fail us again! After trying Dara's shrimp shish kabobs I think I will order them next time as they were very tender and had a lovely smoky flavour.

Posted by OhUiginn 12:16 Archived in Mexico Tagged yucatan chicxulub Comments (0)

5 days of week 15

Mexico City

sunny 28 °C

After a 7 hr bus ride from Oaxaca We were met at the bus station by Jorge senior and his daughter Martha, and off we went to their home in Tecamachalco just outside the Districto Federal of Mexico. Once we settled our thing in our massive bedroom we went off to a place for dinner of tacos nearby.; and they were delicious. I can never eat too many tacos; I had the filet of beef and an order of fried cheese was shared by most! It was a pleasant surprise as I had not eaten any in such a long time. Poor Martita is following a liquid diet and could only watch us eat!

I Decided to just post a bunch of photos of Mexico City taken over the few days, and you can see for yourself what an incredible city this is. I really enjoyed taking the Touribus for two days seeing Mexico City almost like it was the first time with Alexis along for the ride! I would like to return and spend more time exploring certain areas such as Coyoacan and Condesa/Roma neighbourhoods. Why not rent a place for two weeks at Easter next year! Let's see what Dara thinks!

Enjoy!

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Stay tuned for the next place San Miguel De Allende to follow in 5 days.

Posted by OhUiginn 19:15 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

WEEK 14

Oaxaca

sunny 28 °C

Our bus took off right on time at 9pm. It was not quite as long only 1130 hrs
This will do just fine for five days. After a well needed shower we were off to explore.

This town is full of artesian markets and churches on every corner

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We were getting a bit tired and cranky so we found a place to have a beer and take a load off. We came upon this gentleman from Wisconsin who was not your typical american. He was wearing a Zapatista shirt and had a bag with the ELVN movement. He is so very anti government but in a nice enough way that we struck up a nice chat.

By this time we were rested and so headed back to eat dinner on the square of quesadillas with flor de calabash; it was delicious. We wandered a bit more and stumbled upon this great market set up just for the Semana Santa. Each vendor has its region on the top of their stall. Some very interesting artisans.

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Our outing days started off by taking a colectivo taxi to the Tule tree but didn't go inside to see it as up close isn't where you can take photos

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Once we had our fill of the 2000 year old tree we headed to Mitla. What a huge disappointment that was. I wish I had a better memory so I could have remembered it was a waste.

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To my delight my favorite tree is in bloom all over Mexico; the jacaranda
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Off we went in a taxi to where I did know I liked Teotitlan del Valle. We had our taxi drop us off at the 'seda' workshop where we met up with the owners that we met at the special exhibition the night before. How impressive was this place!
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They showed us various natural dying plants the only one we knew was the cocinilla which we purchased some from them

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We came across this beautiful blouse his mother in law had one first prize for her work and I wanted to be sure to show it here

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Once we had taken up enough of their time we started walking back to town whereby we stumbled upon a little creperie called Drupa's Cafe . What a delight it was we shared a ham and cheese and then a banana chocolate one. Can't find my photo!

We continued on our journey into town and wished we could have used the burros to carry us along

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We kept checking out e few places here and there but after the market we came upon one shop that had drawn us in.

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They had a few carpets we liked but then they had the son and his wife come and show us some of their works of art. I had not seen too many all done in natural dyes but they were out of our price range and so they took us up the road to their home where we were shown all kinds of pieces and I felt compelled to buy them. We also bought a skein of yarn that was dyed almost black from believe it or not the pomegranate skins. Who would have thought you would get such an intense dark colour from something so red.

We headed home as it had been 5 hrs since we got there and took a bus back for only 10 pesos. After it had cost us 85 to get there! Lesson learned and to spread Mitla is not worth the drive and cost to get there.

The next day was another adventure to Monte Alban. We called the tour company and said we wanted the 9:30 trip and were arriving soon. We paid our money 60 pesos each and waited to be told to go. There had been a miscommunication and the bus had left without us. We were not happy as it was a hot day and leaving an hour later would mean more time in the heat of the day. They graciously returned our money even though it said non refundable but before we walked off they offered us a free ride int the next one so we decided not to pass up on this deal and off we went. Well it is hard to believe that I can't remember such a spectacular place. It compares to Uxmal or Ek-balaam. After three hours we headed back to where you catch the bus. This was not quite as well organized as it could have been but we managed to get back.

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A day exploring Oaxaca city again checking out areas we had not been to before. I posted photos on FB of that.

For lunch we tried this Oaxaca pizza called tlayudas. in the market

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After a bit of a rest we wandered back to our usual area we like and came upon the processions of good Friday. Being in a very catholic country it is interesting to see these and what struck me were the klu klux klan

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Processions in Spanish speaking countries is quite something. Some of the people participating in procession wear the nazareno or the penitential robe. It has several parts – a tunic, „capriote“ (a conical shaped hood) used to hide the face of person wearing the nazareno. Sometimes person also wears a cloak too. The nazareno robe is of medieval origin.

We headed off before the end to eat our dinner at Los Pacos to try the mole they serve a sample dish of six different kinds. We share the plate and it was plenty for our tiny appetites

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Another day of wandering the streets of Oaxaca making sure we had done all we wanted and picked up a few things to bring to our hosts in Mexico City. Went back to the Equinque for the special ribs only to find that there were none because the butcher was closed for holiday. We chose to have what we had seen previously to be very good, a hamburger. They were probably up there with the best ones I have ever eaten.

Sunday we headed out to the bus to Mexico City. This was not the Platino bit there was no need for one as this was only to be 6:30 hrs but since we chose to travel on Easter Sunday it was surely going to take much longer with the traffic returning to the big city. The bus driver took a different route to try and help and we only took an extra

We were picked up by Jorge senior and his daughter Martha. And off we went to their home in Tecamachalco just outside the Districto Federal of Mexico. Once we settled our thing in our massive bedroom we went off to a place for dinner of tacos nearby.

Posted by OhUiginn 05:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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