Showing off the area...
This week we were joined by Mike and Cathy Halliwushka who are visiting from Ottawa to see what this area of the Yucatan is like.
This gives us the excuse to do a few more of the "touristy" things and on Monday we got together with some neigbours and all went to Sotuta de Peon, the henequén plantation and hacienda.
The landmark Sotuta de Peón is a restoration project located in the heart of the ancient henequén zone in the state of Yucatan and gives a true glimpse of what was once a fully operational Henequen Hacienda in the grand style and tradition of this period. This Hacienda was purchased with the dream of bringing back to life the golden years of the henequén. Over the past 25 years the owners have painstakingly searched abandoned haciendas for machine parts, tracks, trucks and other items of historical importance in order to save them from the complete destruction of time.
Henequen is a plant in the agave family and looks similar until you see the serrated edges of the leave and the hard spines on the tip of each leaf. The leaves are cut, only a certain number off each plant at any given time, then flattened and processed to get the fibre which is then twisted into rope.
After touring the hacienda, we were taken to see the processing part of the plantation which was very noisy...but interesting...pictures attached.
We then boarded flat bed carts, thankfully with cushions, and were pulled, by horse, down a narrow gauge rail through the henequen fields and to a cenote. The cenote had a set of cement steps, making it easy to get down in to, but unlike others we have been in, it was rather dark which made it hard to take pictures. However, the fresh cenote water was very refreshing and we floated around for a good while. It was Cathy's first time in a cenote and she was somewhat apprehensive, but she ended up really enjoying the experience!
We have been doing more walking around Merida...every time we see things we hadn't before. Some window, doors, door knockers, people....so many pictures...so little space!
Andrea even tried her hand at using a punch needle....the old gentleman made it look so easy...we shall see.
One of the other fun activities this week was a House Tours in Merida.
There are two house tour activities in Merida at present, one on Wednesday (run as a business) and the other on Tuesday (run by the Merida English Library or MEL as it is called). The proceeds of the MEL tour (200 pesos or about 18.00) go towards library programs and books, so we decided to support that one. Our tour guide Brent gave us a mini history lesson of the Merida area before starting out, which was very educational. To back up a bit.....I had wondered why some the chunks of clay roof tiles I had picked up on the beach had the words "Marseilles" written on them...I found out why.
Back in the day when the Yucatan was the largest producer of sisal rope (from the henequen plant) , the sisal rope was shipped from the port of Sisal to France and Spain. On the return journeys, the ships needed ballast so it was decided to load them with pasta tiles and clay roof tiles, hense the wonderful floors and roofs in the Merida area. On the tour, we visited four houses, all lovingly restored with back gardens and pools. We were told by each owner that they rarely use the front part of the house, but instead take their friends directly through to the "back". It was difficult to take good shots as our group was rather large, but the houses were stunning.
This cute picture was taken on our way back from dinner in Chicxulub.....he was waiting so patiently for his owner who was in the store, then they drove off....