Getting stuff done!
We've started out the week on a roll and are getting "all manner of things done" as Dara would say! Wednesday, he and Andy nipped into Chicxulub to get Dara's hair cut at a small local hair dresser. She did a wonderful job and charged him 50 pesos...about $4.00! They then met up with Michel and Micheline, a couple from near Montreal that they had met last week in Progreso. This is the first year down here for them and they ended up renting a house on the beach in San Bruno, which is very pretty....but about 30 kilometers from where we are and out of range of local transport. They are somewhat dismayed about the distance out as they have to take a taxi everywhere. They came to see our place and liked the area we are in and they ended up visiting for most of the afternoon. We'll go to visit them out in the boonies when we have our car rental next week or the week after (we have one rented for three weeks....this time we expect the reservation will be honoured!).
Andy's dental appointment was Thursday, so Andrea and I went into Merida with him and did some looking around while he was in the chair. An hour and a half later, he was finished with an extraction and four implants! The two male technicians, who Andrea had jokingly told him were there to "hold him down.....one for each side", did a great job of assisting and we picked him up with a smile on his face....he had been looking a little worried after her comment!! He and his implants are doing great and he has no swelling to speak of, which is a good thing. He'll come back next winter for a bit and have the permanent teeth placed on the implants. Our dentist here (Dr. Piniche Rodrigues) is an implant specialist who was recommended by our friend Jorges father , who is also a dentist. He is now thinking that it might be good to do an information session for the snowbirds in the area....probably a good business move as the cost is about 1/3 of the cost in Canada. Perhaps dental tourism will take off like medical tourism has.
There is quite a "social life" here if one is so inclined, Dara and Andrea went off to play euchre Friday afternoon. There are bridge get togethers, tai chi, yoga and all sorts of activities and volunteer opportunities. Andy and I decided to relax on the patio and watch the ocean....maybe we'll see some dolphins....this is our view.
A few images from a morning walk.....
Andy recovering from his dental procedure....
A fun Friday evening was had at Pantaleon restaurant...or Natasha's (the owner) as some call it. They do a wonderful fish and chips on Friday, so we made arrangements to meet a few people there for dinner. John brought his guitar and after dinner a few friends joined in the singing....Andy played the "spoons"....I had no idea this was one of his talents!
A picture of the fruit mentioned before, it is so sweet and juicy!
We started the weekend with breakfast on the patio then headed into Merida to the dentist for Andy's check up and to pick up our car.
Lunch at the Chaya Maya restaurant which offers traditional Mayan dishes, a stop at the hammock store to pick up two double hammocks for Heidi and Roger, a tour through Costco and back to the house.
Pictures from Chaya Maya...Andrea's dish was a large tamale made with turkey, pork, achiote and chaya filling, wrapped in a mucbil pollo dough made of cornmeal, then wrapped in banana leaves and baked...it was heavenly!
Sunday morning, again very warm and humid.......in fact, there is so much moisture in the air the floors are pretty much always damp...as you can hopefully see from this picture!
Dara and I went for an early power walk on the beach...very low tide....and ended up about 15 minutes past Chicxulub where we met two ladies who mentioned there was a mean dog further down the beach. As we were getting ready to turn around anyway, this made our "turn point" decision for us. Perhaps we could "acquire" a mini can of pepper spray to ward off the "mean dog". Most of the dogs around her are pretty friendly, but if they do look menacing, usually stooping to pretend you are picking up a rock is enough to do the trick.
It was so misty and foggy that my eye lashes were coated in miniscule droplets of water, I've never seen anything like it. We were fortunate to see a strange phenomenon...a."fog bow".....as the sun was trying to burn through the mist, it created a rainbow shape, but made from fog. It's hard to make it out in the photo, but it was very unique.
At the beginning of the week, we decided to do a wee bit of exploring and chose Celestun and the ruins of Mayapan as our destinations. Hence forth, the trip shall be called the "Celestial Marzipan" trip!
The drive to Celustun, to see the flamingos took just under two hours on good roads. Before entering the town of Celestun, which is a beach town west of Progreso, we found the collection of boats and drivers that sit waiting take tourists out on the estuary. The ride was fine and we did see lots of flamingos, however the driver didn't speak any English and wasn't very helpful in pointing out bird life in the area. Andrea and I agreed that Diego Nunez in Rio Lagartos, who we went with two years ago, was much better. The Rio Lagartos trip was hosted by Diego, a naturalist, who pointed out many birds for us, he was so knowledgeable and also took us to a mud flat where we helped ourselves to a mud treatment.
We stayed in Celestun long enough for a seafood lunch on the beach and then headed to Santa Elena, or Nohcacab in Mayan, for a night at our favorite B & B, The Pickled Onion.
This lovely establishment is run by Valerie Pickles, originally from the UK...she also lived in Canada for many years. She has built six "casitas" in the Yucatan style from wood branches and wattle covered with plaster and topped with a thatched roof. Each casita has been lovingly decorated with local hand woven fabrics, Valeries art and includes a sleeping hammock as well as beds.
Valerie, at the Pickled Onion, remembered Andrea and I from two years ago and during dinner at the restaurant, she told us of a festival that was taking place in town. This festival has been held for so long that Stephens and Catherwood , the explorers that travelled the length and breadth of the Yucatán in search of the Maya ruins back in the early 1800's, encountered it when they viisited Santa Elena (Nohcacab in Mayan). They recorded the event in their book Yucatán Incidents of Travel (a must read for anyone interested in the Yucatan). The festival, running January 10 to 24 is in honor of Santo Cristo del Amor.
Valerie described how the loveliest ladies of the town are dressed in their finest hipils, perched on chairs and loaded onto a huge "table", which is then carried by ...somewhat drunken young men....to a village house where treats are handed out to all. We were fortunate enough to be able to join in the festivities and also to enjoy the bowls of rice pudding that were doled out!
Photo of ladies and the festivities...
That portion of the festival done, we wandered to the church, which sits atop a huge hill in the middle of the town square where we waited for the "burning of the bull". Thank goodness it was not a real bull but a man wearing a bull headdress with a multitude of fireworks attached. At the appointed time, he jumped into the area below the church steps, and ran around chasing the children all the while fireworks were shooting out of the headdress! We had wondered why most of the families were sitting a little further up the steps than we were......talk about hair raising...however, nobody lost their eyebrows and it was a real treat to be the only non-Mexicans taking part in the festivities! The evening events culminated in a large paper turkey ...yes, covered in fireworks....being set alight so it spun around in a maniacal fashion! Andy was approached by a rather inebriated Mayan gentleman who had never seen a Chinese person before. He immediately began telling Andy he was his "amigo" and all about the "burning of the bull"....of course all this was in Spanish and Mayan, so much reenactment took place...it was quite amusing to watch. He insisted in having a photo with his new amigo and invited us to his home for a meal the next day....I'm sure he wouldn't have even remembered his offer the next day!
A few pictures of Santa Elena....
After a lovely breakfast and our goodbyes to Valerie, we headed for the archeological site of Mayapan, a site that greatly excited Stevens and Catherwood who recorded it as being the most important of the Mayan ruins. This pre-Columbian Mayan site was the political and cultural capital of the Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula during the Late Post-Classic period from the 1220s until the 1440s. In 1841 Stephens and Catherwood were the first to document parts of the Mayapan site with two important illustrations. The first was of the Q-152 round temple, and the second was of the Pyramid of Kukulkan; ( The first large-scale archeological site surveys were not conducted until 1938.). In it's prime, the "city" was thought to have housed over 12,000 people. What's great is that the site is not too far from Merida, but is relatively unknown to many, bus tours included, so it's a quiet and serene place to explore. Andy, Dara and I climbed the pyramid of Kukulkan...not too bad going up, but a bit gut wrenching on the way down. The climb did however, provide us with great panoramic views of the site.
A few images from the small towns and villages we drove through....
During the drive, Andy found a new use for Andrea's best circular knitting needles......
On the way back home we stopped in Merida at the Plaza de Toros (Plaza of the bulls) to try and get tickets for Dara for the upcoming bull flight. We weren't successful as their ticketing system was down, but it gave us the chance to see this facility, which is quite old.