Palenque

One of the most gorgeous Maya sites has to be Pelenque… after Uxmal of course… sorry I am  biased … I have to be as I live so close to Uxmal…

but no ,seriously Pelenque is breathtaking …..

So again here are more photos to show how lovely it is

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And also thanks to Jorge Rosado for all his wonderful explanations of the wonderful sight… Jorge is a mind of useful information…. Also too a great big thank you to our guide Sergio for his skillful managment of such a large group.. Joanna for acting as mediator and not forgetting Jorge our driver who took us out of many a tight corner.

How time goes fast when you have a good time… so it,s now time to say goodbye but maybe not for too long to new friends that have been made along the way.

 

 

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Leaving San Cristobal onto Agua Azul and Pelenque

The drive from San Cristobal to Palenque is not very far, kilometers wise but the roads are a maze of twists and turns ,with views of deep valleys  and high terrain. The scenery really did remind me of Guatamala ,which I visited many moons ago.

All was going well until we hit Ocosingo the main town of the Zapatistas rebel forces .Saying rebel forces sounds rather harsh , they were, but now they seem a little bit more peaceful in their actions.One of the ways of getting the government to listen to their pleas is to blog the federal highway and this happened to us.

It was a long waiting game about 2 hours but our guide Sergio tried very hard to negotiate . One could say he was successful because instead of what could have been a 5 hour delay became a 2 hour delay.It was interesting to watch people passing by the bus with all their goods walking to the otherside where taxis would be waiting for them to take them further on their journeys… It is very well set up as this happens frequently.

 

Walking to the otherside of the barricade where taxis and combis await

Walking to the otherside of the barricade where taxis and combis await

 

Street vendors come out to sell food, refreshments and it is just a communal thing

Here below is one seller heading home as we just heard they would open the road up again for a couple of hours

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So it seems we would have enough time to stop at Agua Azul for just a short time .

I have seen it before but happy to go again and with people who had never visted .

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Museum of Na Bolom /house of the Jaguar

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The museum is well worth the visit with lots of fascinating data on the Lacadon Indians

It was owned by Frans Blom an explorer and his wife Gertrude Duby a photographer both now deceased .

here is the web page of you are interested in reading their story… it’s quite fascinating.

http://www.nabolom.org

hew

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The Orphanage Visit

 

The day that Joanna, Lisa , Jillian and I went to watch the sunset  from the church high above San Cristobel ,two gentlemen approached us asking for donations for his orphanage/school OINACHAC Organizado de indigenas de los altos de Chiapas A C .

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It was certainly serendipity , as the ladies were wondering how to distribute the many clothes, toys, foods  and many other things that were  donated from many different sources, even from out of the country.And here was the solution on the top of a hill , in front of a church , watching the sun set.

Joanna and Lisa made the arrangements of when and how to make contact with the gentlemen , setting a time and date when the distribution would take place .

The pile of clothing ready to be sorted

The pile of clothing ready to be sorted

Today after breakfast the goodies were taken out of the suitcases and sorted into different piles… one for boys , one for girls etc , small toys packed into little bags so that all the children got their own special treat… Again one for the boys and one for the girls

Once all sorted and ready the ‘stuff’ was piled into various taxis along with some of the group who had wished to join us.

Lisa the I W C president and Joanna one of the founders of I WC

Lisa the I W C president and Joanna one of the founders of I WC

Of course there was an excited  welcome as we arrived like Santa Clauses with lots of goodies and grateful recipients .

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It was a fruitful and rewarding experience and of course there are always the ones that you want to bring home with you .

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SAN JUAN CHAMULA

After the celebrations last night I was eager to go to San Juan Chamula. I had heard so much about the church there from travellers that had stayed with me over the past years that I just had a longing… So here at last the day arrived and what a perfect day… my birthday ! I could not have asked for better.

The journey from San Cristobel de las Casas took maybe 20 mins so not a long distance on the winding roads.

We were informed that no photos were to be taken inside the church , removal of hats, and shoulders and partial arms covered… all out of respect.

If you wanted to take photos of the local people, again out of respect, one must ask them for permission  and expect to pay a little something for the privilege which did not amount to much .

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Lots of opportunity for shopping for gifts or in my case adornments for the B & B rooms . I was excited about my purchases… there was so much to choose from with great prices.

We stopped off at another village…. sorry the name escapes me at the moment …. to a family compound where they did weaving in the old fashioned way.. The family took a couple of people aside to dress them in the traditional way.

We were able to taste handmade tortillas

Arriving back at the hotel I had a short break enough to catch up on emails,reservations and enquires before heading off again to a museum of regional dress. This museum is run by Sergio Castro Martinez who is also a curandero (healer) and renowned for his work to heal open wounds . As with all curanderos I should imagine people come from all over and this appears to be with Sergio after viewing all his recommendations and news reports.One of our fellow travellers had actually read about Sergio in the New York Times and did some research on him and his work.

If you are interested here is his web page information

Museo de trajes regionales

http://www.yokchij.org

His museum is fascinating starting with an explanation of all the local traditional clothes ;A geography lesson leading into a slide show then into more rooms with more ‘stuff’ that you could not take it all in at one glance.

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San Cristobel de las Casas

Today started with an information session before we hit the streets for a tour  of  San Cristobel….there is so much history but I am not going into here , only show some of the photos taken in and around the market area…

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The tour was I think only supposed to be an hour or so but with such a large group it turned wwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaay longer than that. But good to see the sights and get to know San Cristobel. When I have travelled I always like to hit the markets I think it gives a real sense of the people.

Later in the afternoon  Joanna .Lisa the clubs president and Gillian ,the lovely niece of Joanna and I climbed some pretty steep steps to watch the sun set. The steps looked daunting ( I am not as young as I used to be) but we made it !

Gillian ready for sunset

Gillian ready for sunset

And it was worth it!

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In the evening a few of us went to see a play at the Pakal Roja theatre in the centre of town. It was very well put together and the costumes amazing ,the technical artistry was second to none. The show depicted the life of King Pakal of Pelenque… and more than that… He has the same birthday as myself and another lady of the club Nancy which is actually today 23rd March. So happy birthday Nancy!

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From there time to hit some Latin music to celebrate the birthdays girls… It was just up the road from the hotel so not far to walk if we got sloshed .But we didn’t! But did enjoy the music and the dancing .

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Dropped into bed for another night of sound sleep ready for our journey today!

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Parque de la venta/Canon de sumidero

one of the many Olmec heads

one of the many Olmec heads

Our day started with an early call… ready for another long day before arriving in San Cristobel de las Casas

Breakfast then off to see the Olmec heads in the Parque de la Venta. I was so happy to go and see these wonderful monuments but sad there was only 1 hour to do this… One of the reasons I do not like travelling in a group…. but it was the only way I could get away easily if it was organized. Dont get me wrong I like to be organized but I guess one could say I am a loner and an explorer, going alone does not bother me.

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Still I was glad that I got to visit the park . Not only the monuments but animals that were walking around  freely and of course the most dangerous behind bars….

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Oh I must mention before I forget … this trip is a fund raiser for the I W C known as the international womens club of Marida.. The funds help to keep three young ladies in their university program… A quick mention that these three young ladies are able to get a better education through the funds from the I W C ..

Leaving Villahermosa and La venta park our next journey was to the Canon de Sumidera . The bus twisted and turned it.s  way through some wonderful country side scenery to our destination point a couple of hours later.

Most, headed off to the boat ready for the ride.

Again impressive splendiferous views , pleasant day all around.

I do have to mention though the amount of garbage in the water… Although we were told that it gets cleaned up on a regular basis .

Then the last stop of the day arriving at 6.30 pm in San Cristobel de las casas … Most of us were quite beat . Some stayed close to the hotel and a few other ventured out for a bite to eat . It seems there are several choices of Italian, French and Argentinian restaurants . So it seems one could not go wrong in this area…

I am not really a foodie but my main interest is the culture…. So off we go exploring !

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At last a real holiday !

I am on, what I would say is a real holiday! I have managed to return to Canada on a couple of occasions to see family and friends  and it is always great to see everyone but it,s  not really a true holiday.For me a true holiday is going somewhere you have never been before ,taking in new sites ,new sounds and just to experience other parts of our world.

I joined a group taking a trip to Chiapas and organized by Joanna  Rosado  ( writing from Merida fame )and her husband Jorge and also with the help of their lovely niece Jill.

We started on 20th March all 38 gathering around Parque Mejorada in Merida to catch the bus… The journey this day was going to be long as we headed for Villahermosa about 9hours drive with a stop for lunch .

We ate lunch in Champoton with a sea view . I have to be honest here the service was not the best and the food was not really up to par…but we were hungry and devoured the food in front of us.But being fair, I know these restaurants cater to bus loads that show up unexpected… I know its quite daunting to see a mirage of tourists turn up without warning on the doorstep of a restaurant all wanting the bathrooms,something to drink and eat and as quickly as possible…. It can be nightmarish !!!

After the lunch we were packed back on the bus to head to Villahermosa for the night .

As I still do have to check internet for reservations whilst I am away my main concern was to get on the computer as soon as I could to inform the boys back home if any (and there was) reservations had come through… So that out of the way time for a nice hot shower and something to eat and to hit the sack ready for an early start tomorrow .

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Cant believe it!!!!

After weeks of filling out papers and more papers, taking phone call after phone call I cant believe the day has finally arrived.

It was time for a new car…. my poor Beetle bug is ready to hit the garbage dump (well not exactly which I will explain later)… door handles dropping off, windows that dont work,paint gone rusty, holes in the floor, seats ripped but it has been so kind to me . It has carried everything from toilets, cement, tables,chairs,plants, floor tiles ,even a lamb ( see my article from the year …..) Office supplies and groceries for the restaurant. You name it and I have carried it! The police in Merida know me quite well, not for speeding or the likes but because I have had to phone 066 a free service anywhere in the city for a car that will not run…. They have boosted my battery on many occasions when the connection was not up to par. When the people see me in the village walking they always say…? Donde esta su coche Valeria.?…. Where is your car Valerie? And I would laugh and say , It,s in the car hospital, they would laugh with me and say, What again?

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The packers in the parking lot too , know me quite well, especially when I come out of a store like Home Depot. They look at me disbelieving saying “you want ALL that in there?” Yep ! I answer and we get stuck in to see how best the purchases will fit.

Then, usually I go onto Costco just to add more STUFF…. on the back seat, keeping in mind that they have to make visible the back window to see out of….Then the last trip is to buy chemicals for the pool…. oh yes ! That poor little bug has been loaded down on many occasions, in the last 8 years that I have had it.

As I mentioned previously it is nt really going to the dump but I have decided to re-model it… It does need a new floor in the passengers side, the drivers side was done a couple of months ago.Lots of work to be done , then a new paint job ready for my other idea . I was thinking of renting it out for the tourists that come without a car and are surprised to find out they cannot actually make the Ruta Puuc without one. Or even for the bug enthusiasts that would just like to go for a spin.

So now it was time for a new one…………. Because I am living here in the Yucatan I wanted to create a credit rating , as one never knows when it is needed. I could have bought the car cash but decided to see how I could acquire credit for a car… Well ! what a performance ! They required more paper work than the immigration dept for a credit company to accept me… yes, even though I have this business for 7 years now, have a bank account, accept credit cards, pay my taxes etc etc ,  and I have all legal papers for my property . Their response , well you are a foreigner … which yes I can accept this , no problem, But they told me it would take more time because of this. Finally I got fed up with the to and fro and decided to go direct to my bank.

Now the bank manager really did not have much time for me before but all of a sudden because I am borrowing money , I am his best friend.He changed my account to a preferred customer … that means I will not have to wait in line for more than 40 mins if I go to the window… I will have immediate service.  Ah! well that,s good news, I guess ..Changed my debit card to a preferred customer and oh yes I can now access lots of other options.

It took another 3 weeks to be approved with more copies of documents etc etc  but today is the day that I get my new car! Well at least they said today…. it was supposed to be monday but because of the Carnaval all the banks were closed for … not one day but two!

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Car delivered with ballon and ribbon … sorry folks no bikini… those days are gone!

So here it is…. a nice orange/pumpkin V W Crossfox… Yeah !I know ,the car is a man thing and the colour is a women thing.

I was asked if I had any other options besides orange/pumpkin as they did not have one in the showroom…. Sorry, I said there are no other options! By the way if you are looking for this on line in U S or Canada .. sorry folks they dont make them there… They are only for the Central and South Americas markets.

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Now the men in the town are giving me the thumbs up for the new car. It is quite funny to see their reaction as I drive passed. The women are a little bit more subdued.

But I can hear the gossips now…. Ella tiene dinero! She has money!

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7 years of waiting

After 7 years of waiting the day   finally arrived yesterday…. and what a fantastic surprise for me. They said on numerous occasion that they would come and visit but then I started to think it would never happen. I so much wanted them to see my place, my oasis in the jungle,my creation ,the area in which I live, the local culture, fauna,flora and of course the wonderful maya ruins.

My son and his family were able to manage a one night stopover, driving all the way from their Cancun, all inclusive, hotel  . Their holiday from Canada was short , only one week,but Andrew was determined to come and see me. They hired a car and arrived yesterday around 1.30pm, a little exhausted with the drive,the uncertainty of how to arrive here and driving in a foreign country takes its toll.

It has been nearly two years since I saw them last as I was unable to make the trip back to Canada last year due to expansion of  buildings etc.

They walked around the property, wide eyed taking all in with disbelieve that I had created all that there is and what more to come.

They settled in for a couple of hours as we played catchup a little, then off to the Chocolate museum towards the end of the day when the sun was not so hot!

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My son Andrew and family

Of course the monkeys where a hit as was the tasting of the chocolate. Kim, my daughter in law said ,”this is the best part of all our holidays”

Chocolate tasting

Chocolate tasting

For dinner they all tried the Plato Yucatecan, a mixture of traditional foods of the Yucatan , on one plate then decided to have a second, which we all shared.

As well as Conner and Emily trying out the hammocks in the room I think Andrew and Kim had a try too!

We did a quick trip to the centre of Santa Elena as I had to buy products for the kitchen but they got to meet quite a few of the store owners and to  experience a short time in the small village.

They rose early for breakfast and I had arranged my day so we could all go to Uxmal for a couple of hours before they headed back to Cancun ready for their flight back to Canada tomorrow. The photo below I took to show the comparison between us humans and the magnificent Uxmal pyramid

From a distance

From a distance

The staff treated them like family and I was pleased that the staff had a chance to meet my family.

I have a feeling I may not have to wait another 7 years for a return visit.

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