This will be a week of saying adios to many of the people we have spent time with this winter as the exodus has begun. Monday a.m. saw Dara and I walking down the beach to say bye to our friends John and Maggie who graciously welcomed us on December 31st with a gumbo dinner! That done, we kept walking into Chicxulub for panuchos and a market run. The fair is being set up for Semana Santa with some very old, but picturesque rides. As usual I did stop to take door and window shots as well as a few others.
Chicxulub door..such colours
A Chicxulub door
Lovely old ironwork window grill in Chicxulub
Patiently waiting on a sidewalk in Chicxulub
A surprise awaits inside....
One of the fair rides
We rented a car for a few days to do a couple of day trips and decided that Tuesday was a good day to visit Campeche, about 21/2 hours away in the state of Campeche. Andrea and I set off with our friend Linda at 7:00 a.m., the highway is four lane all the way there and in very good shape, so Andrea, our driver, just zipped along. At one point we did stop at a road side stand so Andrea could purchase a pig....yes...a pig....of the BBQ sort....well, not for the BBQ but to be the BBQ!
Andrea's new piggy BBQ
It kind of gives a whole new meaning to having some "fire in the belly"!
Linda has been to Campeche a number of times and was kind enough to be our "tour guide". We wandered about admiring the brightly coloured buildings and historical sites. Campeche was attacked so many times by pirates that a wall was built around the city with four bastions which are currently under restoration along with most of the wall. The city, which was founded in 1540 as the Spanish began the conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. During the colonial period, the city was a rich and important port, but declined after Mexico’s Independence. Campeche used to be part of the province of Yucatán (the state we are in) but split off in the mid-19th century, mostly due to political friction with city of Mérida.
Streets of Campeche
Campeche street scape
Room at the Campeche museum
Museum house in Campeche
The city is full of wonderful sculptures, see some pictures below.....
Wonderful street sculpture
new amigos in Campeche
Great public art sculpture outside the cathedral
One of the Campeche centro sculptures
Andrea y su amigo
A few other images from our lovely day in Campeche...
Tower at the small botanical garden
at the botanical garden
Shows thickness of the wall
lovely Campeche door...too bad there's a garbage bag to go
Wall under reconstruction
How hot was it...check out the back pack sweat marks on this fellow
Cenotes...or sinkholes.....in the state of Yucatan there are over 6,000 cenotes, with only 2,400 of them actually studies and registered. The Mayan people called them dzonot, which the conquering Spaniards translated as Cenotes. Cenotes are magical, unique in the world and were once the only source of fresh water in the Yucatan jungle. The Yucatan peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers; all the fresh water rivers are underground. Caverns and caves formed where the fresh water collects and the water that gathers in them is crystal clear, often turquoise in colour and always around 27 degrees. The stalactites and stalagmites that form inside the cenotes are true works of art with spectacular formations. The cenotes were sacred to the Mayans as they represented the entrance to the underworld and they come in four types: underground, semi-underground, at land level and open wells.
One day this week we set out to explore some of the closer cenotes. We started with San Ignacio cenote which had received a glowing write up in the Yucatan Today. We were a little surprised when we arrived to find there was an entry fee of 70 pesos per person and that we couldn't stay for a picnic lunch as there was a restaurant on site. We paid, got our admission bracelet and climbed down into the cenote. It was a totally covered one, quite small and there was a tour guide there with a group of ten young people who had very loud voices and used them frequently. After five or ten minutes we decided we'd had enough and made for the exit ladder...on our way we chatted with the tour guide and he told us of another cenote nearby that was quite nice and less expensive. We decided that San Ignacio was much too commercial a venture for our liking and will leave it to the small tours! An image from this place that we stayed at for such a short time....
Closed cenote at San Ignacio
Only 20 minutes later we arrived at a lovely San Antonio Mulix, near Cacao and community run "park" with two cenotes, picnic tables, change rooms and a nature trail. The names of the two cenotes are X-Batun (an open cenote) and Dzonbacal (a closed cenote). Thankfully, it was very noncommercial, unlike San Ignacio and we enjoyed our lunch before heading to the cenote X-Batun which we had all to ourselves.
First glimpse of the open cenote
X-Batun open cenote
The girls enjoying the cool water on a hot day
I am enjoying the open, first cenote
After a refreshing swim we headed down the dusty track to cenote Dzonbcal, which was a covered one. There were a few young people swimming and as they were leaving they told us about another great cenote ten minutes away in Peba. After a wonderful swim in the soft, clear water with staligmites all around us we set off for the last swim of the day. The cost for admission to the two cenotes and the facilities was 5 0 pesos per person and worth every penny in our humble opinions.
Stairs leading down to the second cenote
Dara taking a dip with Andrea in back ground
The last cenote in Penba (called Sambula) was not marked...the village is down a long country road, but quite accessible. We did have to stop and ask where the cenote was located....down the road with the school. An old gentleman manning a ancient wooden gate collected ten pesos per person for admittance. At first glance the cenote looked to be a small one with a rock wall around the entrance, but when we got to the stone stairs leading down we saw it was quite expansive. It was mostly covered, with a bit of sunlight creeping in to flicker on the walls and the water creating a magical atmosphere. Andrea decided to go commando as we were the only ones there and was enjoying a lovely swim when we heard voices....never seen her move so fast towards her sun dress!!
Walking up to the Peba cenote...doesn't look promising
Stone steps leading down to the Peba cenote
In Peba cenote
This next image is kind of weird but it shows you just how clear the water is....you can see my toes clearly trying to reach the bottom but missing and the water is up to my hands!!
oh so clear and refreshing
Finally finished swimming
On the way out we chatted with the gate keeper and mentioned that some picnic tables would be a nice addition...he laughed and told us he had his table and chairs....which he proceeded to display to us....reminded me of the furniture from the Fred Flinstones TV show!
Old man and his home made table and chairs
We finished our day with a drive back through Uman and a stop in the centro to check out the cathederal.
The fabulous Uman Cathedral
The dome of the Uman Cathedral
Ouside the Uman Cathedral
As a few more friends are heading to the great white north, and we have a car for one more day, we decided that a trip to Dzitya was in order. This is a small village about 30 minutes outside of Merida that produces wooden, onyx and marble products. Our little group wandered around looking in the shops, but the highlight of the visit was seeing " una plaza de torro temporal " (a temporary bull flight ring)......being set up for the upcoming Samana Santa festivities. It was very old fashioned, long poles tied with twine...just as it would have been in the old days. We're rather glad it wasn't going on while we were there as things didn't look all that sturdy!
The temporary bull ring
Try to spy the church through the bull ring...
The old fashioned carousel
Fred Flinstone rides awaiting los niños
A short thirty minute drive brought us to La Hacienda Xcanatun, an old hacienda built in 1846 and extensively renovated in 2000. This hacienda, set in nine acres of gardens, has been converted into an exclusive boutique hotel and restaurant.
Www.xcanatun.com. (you will be drooling over the pictures of the rooms!!!)
We, unfortunately, were not staying over but we did partake of a lovely lunch on the veranda of the restaurant. Wonderful food, great service surrounded by lush gardens...what more can one ask or wish for!
Relaxing in the grounds of the hacienda
A room they use for quartet concerts
Just get me my chair...
Another lovely veranda
At the hacienda
Ginger flower at the hacienda
As there is a farm on the outskirts of Progress we often see horses being riden down the beach and sometimes even tied up outside houses in Chicxulub.
Caballeros on the beach just after sunset.....
Saturday I saw a sight that will hopefully be a memory for a long time to come....as I didn't have a camera. Dara and I were on the way back from our power walk into Progreso on the beach when we came across a lone caballero on his beautiful white horse. He was in a sand yard right by the beach practicing circles, first one way and then the other. The horse was magnificent; legs and head held high like a lipizzaner stallion and the caballero sported a huge, ancient sombrero. As I turned to watch he looked up for a moment and flashed a huge grin as we both waved in unison. It was one of those moments that leaves an impression and a feeling of the simple wonders of this world.