A Travellerspoint blog

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)

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 room was huge

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We walked around the town as we were close to where it is all happening. We ate a delicious meal at this funky restaurant called Cocoliche : delicious chicken coconut soup; and we were glad of something warm as the weather was cooling down. Something we weren't quite used to after the heat of the Yucatan.

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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 the town was lined with vendors the length of th sidewalks and all around the square. We were told do not photograph people but there were some ignoring this. They believe that part of their spirit is taken away by the camera. If you are seen taking any photos int he church they will take your camera or phone and destroy it. Every Friday during lent there is this ceremony outside the church. It was something out of some novel we 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 awe 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 Saturday nights, the locals sell tamales from their homes ; you find where they are by a red lanterns outside their door. We thought best to 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 but we are partial to the ones in banana leaves. We requested one with saffron but she brought us one with mole; but I quite liked it even though I was not a mole fan in the past. Upon the suggestion of this local lady we ate ours in the home of the cook; this was so we could order more as she knew we would like them. 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 and since we heard that the market ended at noon we thought it best to scurry off to the collectivos which ended up being a taxi. Upon arriving in the village after a winding 40 min drive. , wr came upon nothing like it. What struck me here over the other towns we had seen is how much the men were also dressed up. The market was a bit small with tarps and a few tables set up beside the church. Then suddenly I look up and notice this sea of purple and red entering the church all with palm leaves being held high. So we hurried over to see the procession of people entering the church.

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Once they had all entered the church we returned to the market and came upon two lovely ladies that we started up a conversation with, 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 a few of them had to run off to mass while 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 awe with one of their looms all wrapped with the work started in a bag for just 500pesos. (That is less than 50$). It is hard to explain what we had just experienced. It had been such an honor to be in their home and having them show 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.

Here are the photos I wanted to add.

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Posted by OhUiginn 19:58 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

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 (1)

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)

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