Frida Kahlo celebration

I was so looking forward to the Friday night celebration of Frida Kahlo in Merida. It was going to be a dress up …… come as Frida Kahlo or Rivera ,her renouned  husband painter.Her work is becoming more famous now than her husbands although he always thought she had amazing talent as did her many admirers .

My friend, Joanna Rosado, and fellow blogger …. writing from Merida….. invited some friends to celebrate with homemade delicious Chile in Nogada and it was going to be held in their school ( ITT Merida )to be able to accommodate all .

 

CHILIES IN NOGADA

CHILIES IN NOGADA

 

Because I have more spare time now with having Hilario as my general manager , who incidentally does an amazing job,I thought I would really get into the swing of the dress up and take advantage of it. I took off a photo of Fridas clothes and marched down to the local seamstress , I picked out the fabric for the skirt and within a few days it was ready. I had already picked out a blouse to wear from my closet but then I got more inspired and decided to make one to go with the outfit .

As I am in Merida quite often I took the opportunity to buy some trinkets…. Frida liked a lot of rings having one on every finger…. now this fashion is popular with young and old alike. I picked out the funkiest I could find , rings, necklaces, bracelets earrings  etc . It was becoming quite fun. Then next into the cosmetic shop to buy nail varnish … you know the bright red type, lipstick and of course the black pencil to make the infamous eyebrows . The more stuff I bought the more I was getting quite excited at the thought .

Joann gave me a braid… this is where I fall short , as I was not going to paint my hair black so a blonde Frida Kahlo look alike it would have to be.

I went into Merida the night before to help as much as I could with the preparations . I was going to make the flower arrangements  for the tables and was looking forward to doing my bit.

FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS

FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS

Jonna and I head off to the flower shop to buy the flowers which Joanna had picked out the nice colour scheme. And so the work began .The kitchen was abuzz with many workers helping out preparing, cutting and chopping etc and after two days of preparation the time was near.

Joanna with her painting

Joanna with her painting

Joanna put on her display of her latest painting which was beautiful. An inspiration of Frida from the back view and a tattoo like design of her eyes and brows on her back.

So time for dress up . I had mentioned to the staff that no one would recognize  me very easily, which is what I wanted… For most it worked and it was fun to watch the faces of the ones that finally realized who I was.

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I had not known that as I was preparing my costume that there would be prizes but to my surprise I was the winner of the most original then a second prize was for the most colourful and a third prize that went to be shared with the women in pink.

Fridas in pink

Fridas in pink

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Las Fridas

A very fun event and one I hope to attend more of now that I have the free time.

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Never say never

My mother and father took their  first cruise in 1961 to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary .It was going to be an elaborate affair as my mother packed her fur shawls , long evening dresses ,her imitation diamond tiaras whilst my father was packing his dinner jacket and bow tie. In the early days of cruising this was the normal attaire for dinner EVERY night.Every  meals served at the table and waited upon.

The ship set sail to see the wonders of Egypt along the mediterranean seas. I dont remember taking in too much interest as they were about to leave. All I was thinking was a week on my own….

They arrived home with stories of their trip and souveniers . The one that sticks out in my mind was a leather red and Green ottaman that had to be packed tightly with old clothes and newspapers to Puff it up …. before we could sit on it… This came from Egypt .

The cruise industry has changed since those days…. they have become more affordable for the working class… ( oh my parents were working class but mum liked to think she was a bit above , at times ) the rules are more relaxed, no indivdual tables dinning with the Captain… Buffet style breakfast and lunch .So where is all this leading to.? Well I said I would never go on a cruise… I have said never to a few things in my life but finished up doing it…

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The opportunity came about because a friend of mine, who lives in Merida, asked if I would like to join her( she was really looking for a room mate ) on a cruise that was leaving from Progresso … I had seen this a  couple of years ago and thought it would be interesting as it is geared to the Mexican tourists and would be a neat way to be involved with the culture and learn more spanish .

So I took the bait and said I would go along, knowing that my trusty general manager was up to speed in accepting reservations etc meaning that I did not have to partly work as the last getaway I took. Ah! this will be freedom for me!

The Price was unbelivabley cheap ! It was leaving Progresso north of Merida and heading for Gran Cayman islands,Roatan, Belize ,Cozumel and back to Progresso taking 8 days in total. T he embarkation was a bit haphazard but we made it on board .. the cabin was tight squeeze especially as my room mate is well, a Little overweight but we managed !

Previously I had taken off the internet the ships diagram of all the floors so I dropped off my bagage and went off exploring . I was looking for the spa!!! I figured the first day is a sea day and that is the day I pamper myself. I booked this .day with a massage, manicure, pedicure and hairdo… and a couple of more massages for the rest of the week and the hairstylist for the one night formal dinner that was scheduled . This was going to be a me week …. I said to myself as the bill mounted up … you deserve this Valerie ! Then I realized it had been more than 9 years since I had a manicure or a pedicure…. Darn right Valerie you do deserve this , laughing silently!

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It was a pleasant trip , the staff were great, the food was good, the trips were enjoyable

I made new friends , had wonderful experiences …swimming with the sting rays  in Gran Cayman ,was way too cool !

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The ruins of Lumanai in Belice are spectacular !

 

 

 

 

 

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Cozumal I am not sure I would be in a hurry to spend time there , even though it is not far from where I live.

So all in all very pleasant and relaxing… would I do it again?

Never say never .

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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Before

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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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