Guadalupe the patron saint of Mexico

Every year at this time the air is full of excitement as the Perigrinos complete their promise to The Saint Gudalupe. Each town or village or even city choose a place for their destination to celebrate on the 11th in the eve of that special day

This year with my new entrance way and exhibition area I felt I was able to participate in a small way. I went into Ticul and bought a statue of Guadalupe to display Helping to encourage the runners

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Last year I headed into Merida and enjoyed the wonderful celebration with some friends but this year because of a heavy business schedule I decided to stay local .

The most exciting part is when our local people arrive back in the early evening in time for a special mass at the church. They wait at the entrance of the village waiting for the Police cars to head up the walk/run into the village…. Shouts and singing along the way…. it just gives one goose lumps . This year they ran from Mexico City in only 5 days…

Below are the photos that I managed to snap as they passed by

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Entrevista /Interview

Well not quite an interview really…. From the small college of tourism school in Ticul  came a handful of students to interview me about how the Restaurant and hotel is run .

The group with their nice white uniforms. The look very professional

The group with their nice white uniforms. The look very professional

 

They were kind enough to come the week prior to make the arrangements .

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Checking out one of the rooms

We did a tour of the place and invited them to ask whatever questions relevant to their schooling . After the tour we sat for awhile on the patio whilst they conducted their interview. A couple of the girls where actually from Santa Elena and they told me their studies would be three years and this group are just starting their second year .

The interview

The interview

They were sweet, polite, respectful and genuinely interested…. I was so happy I could help out … their presentation will be later in the month and I will be cordially invited to listen in on their report…. I wish them all the luck that is required to finish their studies and hopefully acquire a great job .

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Day of the Dead….. Hanal Pixan

It is that time of year again when the traditional day of the dead is fast approaching.As I have written before ,here in the Mayab… the land of the Maya it is called Hanal Pixan or food for the souls .

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Hanal Pixan 2014

 

Last year I went into Merida where they do the day of the dead walk from the cemetery to Ermita church… it is an annual event which attracts locals and tourists alike… it is quite unique to be amongst the throngs … This year I am laying low and decided to erect my own altar in the entrance way to The Pickled Onion .

The exhibits in Santa Elena where not as nice as in previous years where all the children participated to erect their own altars. Some where very elaborate ,  very well done. This year though there was no help from the Ayuntamiento ( the local government) the mayor saying he did not have the money this year…. que lastima … what a shame… it certainly did not have the feel as in previous years. Most in the village said it was .. muy pobre…. very poor and were sadly disappointed… I thought it strange as in Merida they are always saying we need to keep the traditions alive but bottom line it always comes down to money. Below are a few photos of the mega display… so sad really

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Remember the photo I published a couple of weeks ago  on Facebook showing my new cross, well now you will know for what reason I had it made.

My cross ready for Hanal Pixan

My cross ready for Hanal Pixan

I had a display cabinet made to fit into the new entrance way and I was so excited to make the first display of many that I have on my mind .

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The green cross with adorned with a typical maya dress

So my first display is to celebrate Hanal Pixan

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the outdoor display

 

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Road trip to Campeche City

Road Trip to Campeche City

This was not a trip I really wanted to do as I don’t find the City of Campeche that enticing to visit. This time though it was the first time I had driven there, previously taking the bus.

My reason for going was to have some papers signed for my English pension to prove I was still alive…. As luck had it the English ambassador in Mexico and his assistant happened to be in Campeche as they are organizing a visit to that City for Prince Charles …. I know the date but cannot leek the news as yet!

I was in touch with the assistant because she had stayed with me recently at The Pickled Onion…. Great coincidence ! And she offered to sign the statement for me .

So I embarked on the journey… The drive through the hills of the Puuc is really beautiful and the roads very very quiet.

The approach into the city was far from being beautiful…. Road constructions, heavy traffic , bad roads and just not a welcoming site.

I had previously booked a hotel in the old center of town near to the sea.Finding the place was a bit of a struggle but managed it in the end . I drove into the designated parking place across from the hotel , unloaded and walked across the road.

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Checked  in and promptly shown to my …. Small room! I opened the window to see my sea view and was surprised to see looming in front of my very eyes a huge modern office complex… but if I stood to one side I could  just about see the sea.

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I booked this hotel because it was near to the sea and because they said there was Wi Fi in the rooms…. As I needed to check for incoming reservations at regular intervals.Well guess what… the internet did not work in the rooms and I had to carry my computer to the foyer for any kind of a reception.

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I always like to check in get my bearings and go for a walk… Oh my ! there was so much construction going on everywhere . the forted wall, the church,and repainting of the old colonial buildings I decided just to return to the hotel, book a massage and relax somewhat.

The massage thrapist arrived 30 mins late,,,, I was kind of giving up on someone arriving but in the end it was a great massage.

I dressed and went out for dinner…. There seems to be lots of choices so finished up going to another hotel…. The food was mediocre and highly priced. I have to laugh when people say my prices are high but whenever I go out to eat even in Merida the prices seem to me outrageously expensive sometimes costing more than double my prices.

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I turned in an early night ready to meet the assistant the next morning for breakfast. So that done and papers signed she was off with the ministry of tourism to go over the route.

I in turn took another walk into the centre area to snap some photos and do window shopping… well door shopping really as there are not that many windows. The old double doors of the colonial style houses where open up for business.

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Returned back to the hotel to check out and return to Santa Elena

I took another main road along the Malecon noticing the buildings … the original entrance to Campeche you see the typical house styles… one dilapidated next to a well kept home then a business thrown inbetween. The old city center with it colonial homes ,churches etc then leaving ,the new modern high rises and American fanchise restaurants and plazas … so much contrast it really is quite difficult to comprehend .

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Truthfully I was happy to be leaving to get back onto the quiet country roads, my mission completed .

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I don’t think I will be going to see HRH in Campeche , I will just read about it in the papers.

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It,s finished !

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Many of you will recognize the entrance to The Pickled Onion from previous visits . It served well over the years and has become somewhat of a land mark along the Ruta Puuc .

But the time had come to re construct the outside appearance . Not that there was any fear of unwanted visitors or an open invite for more unsavory characters, as I  have felt and feel very safe and secure in the 8 years that I have been here. It was just that in the really busy times there would be people looking for a room for the night that would arrive late in the night and it would disrupt other guests and myself . Some people were not considerate of the time ,arriving at 1 am in the morning hours or even later , ringing the bell profusely or calling out the infamous “bueno”until I awoke and acknowledged their presence .

I must profess I am a very deep, sound  sleeper . I know this because once I slept through earth shaking tremors in Guatemala, to the surprise of my hostess .

So the time really had come to do something about it….

A few years ago one of my employees  brother ( from the village )was going through architecture school so to help him with his fees I asked him to draw me up a plan for the entrance way.He did an amazing design …. but at the time there was no spare cash to make it happen, until this year .The design was quite modern and in my mind did not really suit the concept of the place..but the basic plan could be altered so  with a few changes we made it happen.

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It was ,nt that easy really with the lay of the land but we did it!

With the gates closed I can now actually close a couple of days in the quiet times to enjoy my place alone… When I did try to close  before invariably when I decided to take a swim someone would arrive to see if I was open…and I would have to jump out of the pool throw on a cover to go and explain why I was closed.Now I close the gate with a sign saying closed for the day and I refuse to answer any “bueno” calls…. Ahhhh! peace…. we all need it sometimes so we can rejuvenate ourselves .

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Ticul to Santa Elena marathon or Ko onex alkab.

Marathon or in Maya K0 onex alkab which means lets run.

Please note: I have just been informed that this is not really a marathon but a 15 k run….. sorry if I mislead anyone… not being a runner myself I did not know… although there were more than 600 participants

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Today was, what is going to be, an annual event for runnrs took place between Ticul and Santa Elena a distance of 15 kl .This event will be for the celebration of the annversary of Ticul … Running marathons is becoming a popular sport wth more and more participents coming from all over Mexico.

Near the finishing line

Near the finishing line

A general meeting was called by the local presidente for all the hotels in Santa Elena to find out how many rooms we had available to be able to accomodate , as his side kick told me, hundreds of people will be looking for rooms on the Saturday night… So I made the effort to be there on time at the Palcio to find I was the only one there…. I asked what the president had proposed to do but all I got was oh people will be looking for rooms… well why am I the only one here. Oh, he said, One hotel owner came yesterday…..and the others , I said. He shrugged his shoulders and said I dont know.

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I told him how many rooms I had available and that was that. So me, in my wise thinking, or maybe not too wise thinking  , thought Oh, we may be busy for breakfast on the Sunday after the race… hopes were high!

Receiving his medal

Receiving his medal

I asked all the staff to come into work and we were well prepared extra eggs, extra bread etc etc ….. but the staff kept saying Valerie I think they are  giving away free food for the participents … Oh thats strange … but as always the local government like to put on a good show. I went down to the centre of town to snap a few photos and see some of the runners coming in.Sure enough there was lots of juice, fruit and tacos ready, which I was told later the Palacio had pre- arranged to do this but like everything else neglected to inform the local restaurants or to ask if we would like to particpate.

You see one never gets the full information even when you ask… Needless to say I was rather put out and the poor staff where hanging about looking for work to do .

In all their good intentions and promises of helping out the local businessess it never really comes to fruition…. I should have learnt by now! ha ha.

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So I said to the chef… well chef we have lots of eggs and it is time for breakfast… So he cooked up a storm and all the staff that came to work today enjoyed a nice peacful breakfast on the terrace … and  me of course. We all joked about saying thank you to the president for our breakfast and I joked that I would take in an invoice for the extra wages I paid out for today…But really I am going to write a personal letter to him explaining that I employ more people from Santa Elena than any other business in this immediate area…. maybe more than the palacio ha! ha! And that it is sad when someone cannot keep their promises….

Staff enjoying their sit down breakfast

Staff enjoying their sit down breakfast

So maybe this time I have learnt my lesson…. I will keep on looking after my business and my staff the best way that I can…. At least we made into a fun day.

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Casa de las hamacas

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Because there always seemed to be a queue for the hammock over the pool I came up with the idea of a place to hang a few hammocks …. The area I chose was way at the back of the property where the landscape is a little higher than at the front. It seemed ideal as there is always a breeze back there and not only that you can see the church roof of Santa Elena .

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I have only put taupe on the top for now but my idea is to put wire so that the plants will grow up and around and create a natural shade. Its funny ,not everyone takes to the paths to walk around….. me ,I always like to get my bearings wherever I go …. I guess I am with the adventurous types as they are the ones that hang around in the hammocks after taking the time to see what else there is besides their little casitas .

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At the moment I am reading the history of how the hammocks came to Yucatan It is very interesting and when I have finished I will write something about it… or you could even drop by and buy the book about the “crescent moon hammock”

 

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The new addition

 

The new addition is complete and working beautifully….

When guests arrived for their reservations or passing by looking for a room they had to enter the restaurant and in the high season ( like now!) when we are  busy in the restaurant and  it was becoming a little crowded …

So a new addition was needed… first was ,where we could construct it , how would it be constructed , how much space would we need. I kept looking at different options as to where etc. Finally I came up with the idea of between the restaurant and the bathrooms… Then I had to come up with a design.I listened to many different ideas from the construction workers until we all decided on how it should be.

The area we had chosen was really ideal as it only housed a small garden.First the construction of  the building would be in  a square shape but I looked carefully then said this would not work as there would be a corner that would jutt out into the pathway and it would be hard to negotiate.So a rounded curve it would be. It kind of fitted in with the oval shape of the houses and made for easier navigation to the bathrooms and to the housess beyond.

From the intial to the end it took three weeks.It was amazing how much space it did create. So much so that I am able to have my gift store to sell locally made itmes  tthat  I had longed for a few years ago.

I had to figure out the windows as I wanted to have as much light as possible . The door could not open in or out because of space so a sliding door was the answer .

I love my new space……A RECEPTION…..I can bring in my computer instead of disapearing into my house to see if we have spare rooms etc. I can sit looking out at the world, whislt working checking emails etc, instead of couped up in my house. I am more available for clients questions ( and believe me there ae many LOL),to give information etc .The cash register is moved from the kitchen into the reception area freeeing up more space for the kitchen and wait staff…

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And the best thing is I have now hired a receptionist for the afternoons, ( now I can siesta) Maria is from the villlage , always looks immaculate, speaks english,spanish and maya,and Maria is also the masseuse .

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Now, a little rest from construction until the high sseason is over for a couple of weeks than we start again in October until April…. what do I have in store … Mmmm lets see!

Oh and did I mention that we now have gifts for sale made my local artists… also snacks and the fridge will be coming soon for sale of chocolates/ refreshments/local honey

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The NEW chocolate museum

To my dismay ,the first chocolate museum located on the Ruta Puuc ,has closed its doors only to be relocated closer to Uxmal on land that was bought from Hacienda Uxmal .

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I remember the first time I met Mathew , the owner. He came to the restaurant to eat with sometimes with  his family from Belgium ,who were visiting at the time. He was in the process of purchasing the land to build the museum close to Sayil and Labnah. He excitedly told me of his plans etc and I was so excited to hear about his project.

Sadly his predictions about the amount of people he would attract did not materialize . I remember mentioning at the time…. Do you really think you would attract that amount of people? I asked. Oh yes ! Valerie. So, plans in hand he got to work on his project .It was beautifully constructed ! On the inauguration day came many guests , mostly from the tourist industry .with hopes of promoting the stopover for their clients.In the end the big bus tours said they could not take 1 hour of their tour schedule to stop by even though it would have been worth it . When they added the Maya chocolate ceremony it only enhanced the visit.

I went many times to visit with friends, family or guests. But there was not a day that I went, that we were the only people there.I would always recommend my guests to take a visit and all came back with a big thank you for the information…. they loved it!

But as with all business one has to do what is best and so Mathew  would drop by, now and again ,chatting to me about his venture . So he took his decision and started what is now called the Choco Story , close to Uxmal .

Yesterday was the grand inauguration and of course I was there to give support to Mathew . Again he has done an excellent job . The buildings are beautiful ,the gardens will grow into maturity, and the best…. he kept his employees from the first museum and brought them all to Uxmal… This does mean more travelling time for them back and forth to Oxcutzcab and Tekax but I am sure they are happy to have work… and to work for Mathew.

There are a few new exhibits which makes it more interesting . So if you have already been to see the chocolate museum located on the Ruta Puuc… please take the time to go to the new one… it really is worth it! Oh ! and not forgetting the famous work of Patricia, from Muna , and her brother working on their re- production pottery pieces . Their work is exquisite!

 

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Note: Mathew has introduced Jaguars on the site and of course his monkeys  But please do not be shocked to see them in cages ( big ones). These are animals that have been rescued from various places that were being abused or just abandon !

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Mot Mot/Toh

In the year 2010 I posted a blog about a Mot Mot that came to visit me in one of the casitas that were under construction at the time >Bird Festival and my visiting MOT MOT 10/2 2010< . I cannot believe I have been writing the blog all this time … how times flies !

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When I took the photos and wrote  the blog I was so excited to see a baby Toh and my excitement at seeing them today is just the same.A couple of weeks ago I posted photos of the bird ,that I had snapped with my camera  ,onto Facebook .

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Today I am posting more on my blog that I took yesterday.A whole family of them hanging around my ceiba tree… Was I excited or what? I don’t get much time to meditate these days but watching the birds for awhile it certainly stopped my mind from wandering from the daily chores . When we get in touch with nature we forget all the problems of the world as one takes a peek into the beauty that is around us.

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It seems that this is the bird most sought after for the keen photographers and bird watches . I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed watching them.

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