A visit to a typical Maya family home

If you are interested in how the Maya live in the traditional way there is a lovely family in the village that open their doors for you to enter and visit with them.

Hernando in his  backyard

Hernando in his backyard

Hernando will receive you at his front gate. He will escort you into a typical Maya house where he will explain the reason that they built the houses in an oval shape.It seems each corner , each piece of wood, that they used to build ,as a significance .The rounded part being taken from the half moon . The four strong thick posts that hold the roof ,representing the four corners of the world . He will show you how best to sleep in a hammock for adults and children .


demonstrating the hammock way

He will take you to see his wife making handmade tortillas over an open fire.

Making handmade tortillas

Making handmade tortillas

Then a trip into the garden where he will demonstrate how to make rope from the Henniquin plant .

Henniquin demonstration

Henniquin demonstration

Then onto his small altar where he explains the work that the Maya gods do.

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All in all it is a great experience and you can enjoy it too.! If you would be interested just get in touch with me and you can either walk down by yourself or if you need someone to translate either I or Hilario would be more than happy to share the experience with you . It would be our pleasure.

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So much time has passed since I wrote anything on my blog It is hard to believe how quickly it goes

Where I left off was , I think ,way back in early Feb . After checking my dates it was Dec when I last posted….

Wow!I had no idea it had been so long!

This year I went to the pre carnival dance in Merida put on by the Red Cross and the event is for only women.. The costumes and the dancing was amazing! Such creativity !

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I am a member of the I W C (international womens club) although I must profess you will not see me at the meeting or participating in the many wonderful programs and charity work they do. Living at least one hour away and with having the business it makes it difficult at times. But this time I promised my self I would go as a member of the I W C to the pre carnival .

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I did not realize we were going to dress up but someone had a T shirt for me and a few others ,that had thought the same as me. So we doned our costumes and off we went.


The girls actually won the price for the most comical…. And I think that was the first time in the history of the I W C that they had won a price .

As mentioned in a previous post about the old beetle I had re painted and “done up” with hopes of renting it out to tourists that come without a car. Well this did not really work out … I decided I did not want the liability if anything had happened whilst driving out and about. I lent it out to some lovely friends of mine to see how it would be for them. Sort of a test drive. Well they came back after quite an adventure and informed of what needs to be done…. The husband knew quite a lot about Beetle Bugs. So after this run I decided it was not worth it … What did I do with my lovely beetle that had worked so hard for me over the last 8 years? I sold him! But he is still in the village as one of my staff asked if he could buy it from me…. He loved the colours and was delighted with his purchase.

I did shed a tear as he was driven away… it had held so many memories for me. I have never shed tears over a car before so that caught me off guard.


I sometimes see him driving by at night ,with all his family in the car, going for a spin .So I know he has gone to a loving home.

The next project started not long after saying goodbye to the Beetle. A new house !

In the beginning there was only earth

In the beginning there was earth!

No not to rent out but for me! I now have a lovely bathroom with a jaccuzi tub ( oh such luxury) a separate bedroom with closets. Although I still prefer to sleep in the hammock. A kitchen where I can now make my breakfast without disturbing the boys in the kitchen as they prepare breakfast for the guests . An area with lots of light so I can continue my painting and my work area , computer etc and a small seating area. Oh yes and patio doors from the bedroom onto a small patio. Wow ! I am in heaven! The project started at the end of March and by the end of June I was moved in and my old house re vamped ready for the high tourist season again in July/August .


It took two workers  from the village ,3 months from start to finish…. they did an awesome job!

So we now can offer two family rooms that sleep up to 5 people

And we re vamped two more rooms adding extra beds to accommodate up to 4 people.

The other news is I now have a general manager who is excellent and makes my life so much easier. Instead of everyone coming to see me to ask what to do I give Hilario the information and he takes it from there.IT was just becoming too much for me to deal with the overseeing, reservations and shopping for the restaurant. So one could say I am now officially semi retired and it feels so good.

I managed a short visit to Canada to be with my 90 year old aunt and I returned with her where she stayed with me for a week. But after being on the property for only two hours the poor thing fell and fractured her arm. But again luck was on our side


I whisked her to a doctor in Ticul , had her x rayed and as luck would have it , it was the day a bone doctor came into to Ticul from Merida( he comes once a week) so he strapped her up and we were back home in 2 hours.


It did not hamper her mood though she ploughed through and was joking and chatting up the boys…. They loved her!

I have learned how to facetime on my new ipad so now I can talk with my daughter

I have lovely new space to live in

The business is booming

Life is good and I am forever grateful

So who ever is watching over me a big Thank you daily I will say to you

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New Look V W Beetle



car and louis miguel 001



It only took 9 months to have my car repainted… quite a long story but I won’t go into that now… I will however say that I eventually took it out of the hands for one painter and passed for another…. Sad thing is that when it arrived at the 2nd painter there were lots of parts missing….lights, indoor door covers,windscreen wipers and the list goes on .

But I am happy I have it now…. If anyone can remember how it looked before…. then you will know why it needed repainting… I decided to change the colour from white and have something …. well I guess you can say a little more showy.

Apart from new paint I also had all the interior upholstered now if only I could get the other things to work… like the seat moving backwards a little. After driving my V W cross fox… pumpkin is her name.


Pumpkin 1


… jumping back into the Beetle I cannot believe how I had driven miles in it AND carried cement,toilet sets,tiles,electrical,foodstuffs and lots more. But now it will be used to rent for the tourists that would just like to have a ride in her or for those that come without a car and want to see the Ruta Puuc.


Pumpkin 2


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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


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 .


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 .


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 .


The green cross with adorned with a typical maya dress

So my first display is to celebrate Hanal Pixan


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.


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.



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.


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 .


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 !


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.


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


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.


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.


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



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 .


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 .


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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