Sunday, February 18, 2018

10. Merida Moments

So we returned to Merida on Thursday, February 15 and today is Sunday, the 18th. Wow, we have been so busy with the logistics of travel. When on a long vacation there are days that need to be set aside for business. Thursday and Friday were those days for us. We needed to get a lot of laundry done, find another hotel to stay at in Merida since Luz was booked after Thursday night, get our teeth cleaned, and learn to use Uber to get to said dentist. BTW it cost us 500$ pesos or $27. per person to get our teeth cleaned and the dentist does the cleaning! On Saturday we met our friends, the Diaz Bermudez ladies, for ice cream on the Paseo Montejo at (including Raquel this time!). I recommend the coconut! Then on Saturday I was delighted to discover the Ibis hotel where I could sign up for  the Alianz Francesa de Merida 5K on Sunday which Katia and her mother, Patricia, kindly agreed to join in, along with me. See me? I'm waving, in front of and to the left of the woman with the coral and white top.

So now we will spend our last night at the Hotel National in Merida. This is our third night here and we requested a larger room because although it was clean the first room was so narrow we were always bumping into each other. This room has a couch and a coffee table and the entry way is larger. The view onto the parking lot is not the best but having space is more important to us. 

The cost of the first room was 750$ pesos ($40.50 USD) per night and the larger room is 850$ pesos ($46.90 USD) per night. This is a business hotel and because it deals mostly with Mexican business people, the staff speaks very little English. With my meagre Spanish and their patience, we get by. The hotel has a beautiful pool that is underused, we spend afternoons just hanging there. In fact I am putting together this post at a picnic table there!

The restaurant serves very good food but service is slow. There is no refrigerator in the room but the restaurant will give you a glass of ice if you ask for it...and yes it is clean ice!  Tomorrow at noon we will be on another bus, this one first class, back for one night in Valladolid. 
More random photos of Merida:
Our favorite Merida restaurant for authentic Mayan food, Chaya Maya

A new to us, but been here forever restaurant with a marvelous view of the main square. Great food too! La Casa de Mi Tia

Near the old railroad station

Hmm...I'm still trying to piece together this entrance tile to an abandoned building.

Institute of Music indigenous to Mexico

This was SO delicious! It is from Organico Bar de Cafe Y Cocina. I loved the coffee but the bread of my sandwich was too dry.

Loom inside one of the artesian shops

One of the more modest, but surely expensive, homes along Paseo Montejo.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

9. Small Town Sights

Templo de San Mateo in Santa Elena; where I went to Ash Wednesday mass. Thank goodness for smart phones so that I could at least understand the readings!

Common form of transportation/cab ride in the rural Yucatan 

Children getting ready for some kind of Fat Tuesday chaos; the music was loud and they were holding bottles of blue liquid.

Bouganvilla at the Pickled Onion Restaurant

Man on scooter hauling sugarcane. We also saw numerous trucks loaded with oranges.

Driving the straight and narrow road to Oxkutzcab.

Sights in and around the market in Muna, Yucatan.

One of my favorite pictures:

The church is known for the black Christ on the crucifix.

8. Sayil; in the Heart of the Yucatan on Valentines Day!

Maybe it was because it was Valentine's Day; Chris managed to handle going to two sites of Mayan ruins in one day! Sayil means 'place of the ants'. The most interesting building to me was the palace which is 3 stories high and at one time had 90 bedrooms. It was built between 700 and 1000 AD. Here is the wikipedia website about Sayil.

We gave the ant hills wide berth!

7. The Early Bird Gets the View: Kabah Archeological Site

On Wednesday, Valentine's Day,  we hit the Yucatan country roads by 8:15 and we were rewarded with our early rising by being the first and only people walking the Kabah ruins. Maybe it was because everyone else was doing their Fat Tuesday revelry the night before and so they slept in; even the gatekeeper came to take our entry fee as he was buttoning his shirt. The fee was 55 pesos per person which at present is a deal at $2.97 U.S. dollars. What a splendid place! Because it was quiet, we were able to see more birds, even a MotMot! Once again I am going to borrow information from another website to share with you:

6. Uxmal

On Monday, 2-12 we rented a car for 3 days from Easy Car on Calle 60 in Merida. Just like their name says, they are easy to deal with; they speak some English and they are good natured. It is always a pleasure to do business with people who like their work. We paid about $35. U.S. dollars a day for both of us to be able to drive, although Chris ended up doing it all. Once out of the city and with the help of Google maps, it was pretty much a breeze to get to Santa Elena. A few potholes surprised us and the jungle/woods comes right up to the edge of the two lane country highway and on Wednesday when we went beyond Santa Elena to Oxkutzcab, we saw a sign that warned of panthers crossing the road! Our Boutique Hotel was the Flycatcher Inn and it really lived up to it's reputation as a retreat. The grounds were lush and well maintained with a short walking trail into the jungle in the back. No TV and weak internet signals even in the lobby but that was to be expected. Part of the 'retreat' aspect means you are a little less connected to the outside world. But not totally because there were other people at the Inn from London, Paris and Berlin, all very nice and it was fun to share our travel stories.  The spacious lobby area is filled with books, many of them in English, explaining the nearby ruins, history, plants and Mayan culture. Also, the owner, James is from Kentucky and he is very loquacious, making the rounds to visit guests during breakfast and at cocktail hour. On Monday we just relaxed around the pool and ate dinner at the restaurant across the road, The Pickled Onion. One thing about staying in Santa Elena; there are not a lot of options for eating out. The Pickled Onion, the cafe next door to it or ordering dinner ahead at the Flycatcher Inn (a delicious option with large portions; one plate would've fed the two of us!) are your best bets.  Below is a photo of our room. It had a hammock in the corner too and we used it for afternoon reading and swinging. Here are a couple of our pictures, the website has a lot more, and yes, it is as lovely as it looks!

On Tuesday we went to see the Uxmal ruins. You need two tickets to enter this UNESCO world heritage sight and the total cost is 234. pesos which is $12.65 U.S. dollars at the present time. One ticket covers the state government cost and one ticket covers federal cost. I am no archeologist or expert historian but I do enjoy visiting places from long ago; partly because I am in awe of the skill and labor it must've taken to build these palaces and pyramids in 700-1000AD and partly because I like the exercise of walking up, down, and all around. This summary of information I took from the UNESCO website: The Mayan town of Uxmal, in Yucatán, was founded c. A.D. 700 and had some 25,000 inhabitants. The layout of the buildings, which date from between 700 and 1000, reveals a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer, as the Spaniards called it, dominates the ceremonial centre, which has well-designed buildings decorated with a profusion of symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the god of rain. The ceremonial sites of Uxmal, Kabah, Labna and Sayil are considered the high points of Mayan art and architecture.
Now for some of our pictures: