Wonderful Family visits,

Apart from being fully booked and keeping busy I found time to be with family acting as guide , interpreter , hostess , chofer etc.

Trying to fit in a few day trips was hard but worth it as first family guest , my brother that came all the way from Guernsey. I think this makes his fourth visit and every time is great! This year we visited the ruins of Santa Rosa Xtampak , one of my favourites and I took along two of my lovely guests who always like to travel by bus.

xtampak main temple

Main temple Santa Rosa Xtampak 

Santa Rosa is definitely a site where one needs a car. From the main Merida Campeche highway just before reaching Hopelchen ( the town where the Mennonites have their community) is about 40 mins from Santa Elena taking a left turn off the main road arriving at the site another 40 mins later .I took Zac with me but unfortunately he was not allowed in. I kind of had the feeling he would’nt but not to worry as I have seen this several times .Zac and I hung out playing ball  and getting to know the resident dogs ,whilst the others entered the ruins .

On the way back there was still time to visit the caves at Bolonchen , La Mujere Escondido . The hidden lady . Again I have visited this cave often and it is one of my favourites and it is where the drawing done by Catherwood that is quite famous and printed in the book Tales of the Yucatan

Again Zac and I played ball with the curators son who was helping his dad for the day due to having a cold and taking the day off school. I heard him tell his dad that he was bored and had no one to play with.So out came the ball and Zac . Had a long chat with his dad whilst we were kicking the ball around . Then his son and I played bingo from a board game he brought out . Meanwhile my guests and Vincent were enjoying themselves in the cave.

The next trip was to see the Flamingoes in Celestun. Vincent went on board the lancha and Zac and I people watched . Glad we got there early as more and more people were arriving . We went into town for a fish lunch and a walk on the beach before heading home

it was great to be with Vincent and spend time together and we even had a little dance together when the musician came .

Four days later my daughter Tara arrived with her husband Dan and my grandson Creegan . I was so excited to see them and could not wait for them to see the place . Actually it was through their last visit ( some 8 years ago) that I decided to build a little palapa house so that the next time they visited they could stay with me instead of in a nearby hotel and ready for any family members that cared to visit . So this is how the hotel started ( now I have 8 rooms and stay fully booked in the high season)

So I donned my different hats again as we took a couple of road trips

Again off to Celestun but this time we hired our own boat so that Zac could have the experience . Not sure he liked it though , he got a little sea sick as we got off the boat to see the fresh water cenote and was not in a hurry to get back on to return to port !

Again another fresh fish lunch …. Yummie ! But the walk on the beach was just too cold as we were coming out of a four day cold front . Nonetheless it was all worth it and arrived home a little tired but feeling good

other trips included Mani , Loltun caves Labnah , Uxmal and Choco Story.

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Valentine’s special dinner with two guitarists ,a box of chocolates from Creegan, lots of play time with Zac and Creegan ( of course Creegan now wants a dog ) Rest and pool time inbetween . It was wonderful to have my family visit me . All of you I love very much .



A tired out Zac



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Sunday Jaunt


Taking a chance to have a sunday run and to look for cenotes and to see a ruined hacienda that one of my guests told me about

I took a back road out of Ticul to Sacalum and onwards passing Yunku , where their are a couple of cenotes that I had seen before…

I continue northward and saw a signed entrance way… O k lets take the road…..oh my what a road. The worst track I have ever been on but like the good soldier I continued.The track was so rocky I could only do 8 kl at the most.Weaving in and out trying to find the best route, up and down but finally I arrived at the cenote where another sign said please keep clean our environment. I guess this did not mean anything as I descended into the hole and saw mounds of throw away cups and plates.

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The best spiritual group ever

Over the years I have hosted many spiritual groups here at The Pickled Onion and I have to say this last group was the best I have received.

They were charming , respectful,kind, generous , with love oozing from their soul and human   beings.  Ego was not on the agenda …… What a blessing !

They totally understood the spirituality without departing from their earthly roots . It was a joy !

They visited all the sites in the area  Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak  Labnah and the caves of Lol Tun , during the five days that they occupied the whole hotel .

Upon leaving they departed for thr ruins of Mayapan where a ceremony was held ( there are some sites that will not allow ceremonies to take place without written permission from INAH)

I was hoping I could go and join them…. And I was after organizing the schedule for the day

Below are a few photos

Big sisterly hugs to Star and Marie- Christina

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Deck the halls…..fa la la la

It is that time of year again when it is time for decorating the tables.. Christmas trees or however you like to arrange your Christmas decorations

Christmas lights are being erected in some homes and one would think we are in Europe , Canada or the U SA with the amount of lights some homes are displaying. We always associate Christmas with snow but here in the tropics the lights, for me, seem out of place. But it is what one becomes accustomed to.

At least the spirit is alive and the giving is just as profound .


For some reason this year I decided to get more involved with the table decorations… or maybe because I found this amazing store in Merida which ironicly is called Miguels…. a take ,I assume, from the store we have in Canada called Micheals where you can buy anything you need for craft making .

Below is what came out of my shopping spree…

The wreath I totally dismantled the purple adornments that I had last year and went back to the traditional Red … so now it has a new look .


Off with the old


On with the new


I always find it difficult to get in the spirit of Christmas because every business I have owned and operated always centred around Christmas  and by the time Christmas rolled around I was so tired and a little tired of the Christmas thing ..to really be in the spirit !. I don’t go overboard with decorations just a few selected pieces .

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Wishing all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us at The Pickled Onion


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Drawing competition in Santa Elena

Now I have a little more time I thought I would do a fun thing in the village. I set out three categories based on age, one for ninos (children) up to the age of 13 and two categories for young and adults ,for a drawing/painting competition.

Mi Pueblo Maya

Mi Pueblo Maya

I passed by the local mayors office to see if it would be O K to have the prize giving in front of the palacio . With his approval I promptly pasted all the information outside, on the wall ,so the villagers could read and hopefully participate .

Next a visit to the schools passing out the information. The participants then had 10 days to do a drawing or painting .

The children had to draw a humming bird and the two young and adult categories one being of a bird and the other , my pueblo Maya.

winner of Mi Pueblo Maya

winner of Mi Pueblo Maya

As the closing day was drawing close I was getting a little concerned as there was only one drawing and so another trip to the schools to remind them and gave them two days extra to bring in their drawings. The children were a little shy to participate as this was something a little unusual .

Oh my goodness ,then I was inundated !

My task was then to select 1 st, 2nd and 3 rd prize winners in each catagorie

Saturday was the day of prize giving and I tried to co herse  the mayor to help give out the monies but I think he was busy so his secretary volunteered instead .

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One family was really happy their son won a prize and thanked me for giving motiva tión for the children      Ahhhhh! I thought ,how lovely, a forward thinking family … How lucky is this boy to have such caring parents .

I explained to all the participants that this will now be an annual affair and they have a year to practice and improve

I hope I gave some the inspiration with the small exhibition of some of my paintings. Lets see what next year brings!


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Dia de los muertos/ day of the dead

This year ,as the last ,the wonderful displays that they used to do in the village did not happen. So sad really as everywhere else there seemed to be the celebration… but of course  it always comes down to politics. Nevertheless I set up a small altar in the display area as you enter into The Pickled Onion

One of the ladies  in the village is well prepared to supply the flowers for the people in the village that do prepare their alters in their homes . I asked Maria if  I could go to her garden and take photos of course she kindly said yes and escorted me to her home and her back garden which was a sight worth seeing


a view of Marias garden of flowers with limones in the foreground

a view of Marias garden of flowers with limones in the foreground

Below you will see more of her garden

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This year … again to my trusty manager I was able to celebrate a lovely night in one of Meridas most beautiful homes….. Guests were made up mostly of expats to which most I did not know. and the place was heaving with people The food was great and wine free flowing … but below are photos showing our preparations for the event .


Here I am !!!!

And some friendsDSCN2102DSCN2100DSCN2101

Also a few photos of  house .

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More photos of the altar at The Pickled Onion and one from a Merida restaurant

A Merida restaurant Altar

A Merida restaurant Altar

The Pickled Onion Altar

The Pickled Onion Altar

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Dentists….. a trip to the Dentists in Yucatán

Going to the Dentist in Yucatan

Because I live in a very rural area questions arise from tourists as to how one obtains medical help or other services such as dentists etc.

The closest for a doctor ,that is reliable for me, is in Ticul. There is a doctor in town but if you can find him and also at the health dept there is always a young doctor who has just left university and comes to Santa Elena to do the 2 year practicum.

But what I will talk about today is dentists.

When I first arrived and living in Ticul I went to the most modern office where the young man was very good and thorough… he then took on the job as Mayor for Ticul therefore his practice was kind of forgotten .

I then began building the business and so I began to neglect my teeth although they never gave me any pain , it took 8 years up to now until I realized that I have now time to take care of me!

I choose a dentist in Merida, Diana , on recommendation of one of my guests who had not only come on holiday but made the trip mostly to have dental work done.

Diana Navarro my dentist lady

Diana Navarro my dentist lady

I finally began my treatment in May…… I had lots of fillings dating back 50 years ago and we all know that in those days they used mercury. So the marathon was on to refill but of course again we know that even if you have fillings, your teeth still decay underneath.. mind you I thought 50 years was a good stretch! Although when I mentioned the amount of work I was having done to my brother he was suprised as he always thought my teeth were good. But isnt that normal … what you see on the outside is not always what is going on , on the inside!

I found Diana,s office quite easily behind one of the big Malls north of Merida and next to the Clinica Merida , one of the big hospitals they have in Merida.

Her office was on the 5th floor of the building , quite modern . Diana surprised me by greeting me in English  . She is young modern  lady with a young family  and very pleasant and as I got to know more with my visits I am always greeted with a hug and leave with a hug. Never have I had these kind of greetings from previous dentists… it make one feel  very welcomed.

She is kind, courteous ,always a smile and gentle human being…..

I have had to date four refills ,4 root canals,6 caps and not one iota of pain! For the root canals I went to a specialist , Edgar, who again spoke excellent English, was charming and gentle .

So here we are in October and next week will be the last fitting of the final caps…it has been a long journey with all the trips into Merida every week but I was able to combine , visiting with friends, shopping for the restaurant, car serviced etc so not really a waste of time.


I know I could not afford all this work in such a short time in Canada and I feel each experience here in the Yucatan is a blessing .

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Red Moon , Full Moon

Full moon , Red moon.

Yesterday September 27th we were witnesses of a wonderful phenomena which they say will not happen again until the year 2033 another 18 years to wait.. Not sure if that would be possible for me to see again but one never knows.( Hey wait a minute that would make me 86 of course I am going to see it again)! So I thought I had better get outside and enjoy the few hours that this would take place .


It is not unusual to have amazing night skies, and especially when the moon is full , it lights up the pathways and gives a night time glow .


The moon rises

The moon rises



It wasn’t certain that the skies would be clear as the weather forcast was predicting heavy rains which could move into a cyclone. I was so happy when I saw the clouds clearing in the early afternoon and knew it would be a clear night.

I wandered off to the back of the property, with my camera in hand and made myself comfortable by slinging up a hammock in the Casa de hamacas that I have at the back . I settled in the hammock listening to the night sounds. So peaceful and relaxing doing my best not to fall asleep.


The moon finally showed itself…… big and bright and little clouds to get in the way .


Later I moved to the front parking lot where I stood and watched for ages . I marveled at the milky way so bright and clear , the stars were in abundance as too were the fireflies .

The start of the eclipse

The start of the eclipse



It was amazing ! As I have mentioned before I am not really a photographer just a point and shoot and I found it difficult to keep my hands steady but I hope you enjoy the few photos .


A shaking hand produced a few moons

A shaking hand produced a few moons

nearly got a good photo

ec;lipse finishing

ec;lipse finishing



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Dengue and Chikungunya ? Do I have one or the other?

The good news is that I did nt have either Dengue or Chikungunya (which I really knew deep down). Because I had similar symptoms , headache ,muscle ache in the upper torso,a slight fever, and a really bad  cough ,automatically the staff gave me the diagnosis  of one or the other . Surprising how, if one lets it happen , how fear can take over, But I know how the village people re act and the more dramatic a situation the more they like it… or if it is not dramatic enough they add to it .

For example , when we had the extreme heat in May and June my feet decided to swell a little. One of the ladies in the village saw them and said to me Valerie I have medicine in my house for this… drop by and I will find it for you.I took her up on this and happy with the results… but the next thing I heard in the village was that Dona Valeria is retaining water and she is dying !!!And that is why she is building a house so she can die in peace there…. it is so funny to hear stories like this but I guess that is what makes a village colourful .

But to continue with the Dengue or Chikungunya episode . For me to have a fever is very rare I think only 5 times in my lifetime as this happened . I spent nearly the whole day in bed with fever up and down and coughing seemed like non stop. In the end Hilario, my general manager, insisted that he took me to the doctor.

Of course I knew this would mean and injection first then the tablets for later .


The doctors diagnostic… a case of Bronchitis ! Phew that was a relief ! But as I mentioned above I knew it was not going to one of the dreaded infections as I have people come by to constantly spray and in-between times the gardeners do it also. I hate to spray as the chemicals are quite strong and to be honest if I was living here alone I would not do it … but having this kind of business one has to be aware of the guests and make them as comfortable as possible.

So for those of you who are not too wise about Dengue or Chikungunya either one of them are not very pleasant

Symptoms are sudden fever and acute aching of the joints and headaches . The mosquitos that are the culprits are usually the ones that are around in the day time .The mosquito becomes infected when they have fed from  persons that are already infected… and pass the infection the next unexpected culprit .We do have a few cases in Santa Elena but nothing compared to the city of Merida . But it is always wise to carry you repellent with you especially in built up areas .



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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 .





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.



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.


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


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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