Archive for the ‘1’ Category

TICUL, DZAN, MANÍ AND OXKUTZCAB OCTOBER 2010 by Bike and Bus

October 18, 2010

With our folding bicycles loaded for an unlimited get-away sojourn, we pedaled to the TAME bus terminal in downtown Mérida. Jane and I weren’t coming home until we felt like it.
At 9:30 AM on a blue skied Monday morning we boarded our Mayab bus and rolled across Yucatán’s seasonally green out-back. This was good!
One hundred kilometers later we disembarked at Ticul. We love the place. This is the season of fresh corn and all of the delightfully delicious local foods made from it are only available in these places when the milpa farmers bring their just harvested maiz [corn] to market.
We headed directly to the main market for panuchos.  This alone makes the trip worthwhile. Everything is garden fresh.
Still in the market. we devour freshly made pool kan-es, known in Spanish as tortitas de masa con ibes. These elegant little deep fried cakes of masa [corn dough] are filled with ibes, a white bean also known as frijol blanco. Topped with tangy sauce and diced sweet onion, they are scrumptious. Meat toppings are available.
Ticul is known for its pottery and this ornate water urn, a relic of the past is still in daily use.
Ticul’s plaza is popular especially under the shade of this almond tree. The economical covered tricycle taxis quietly glide around town making for a peaceful easy going atmosphere.
Afternoons when the shadows grow long the plaza fills with venders selling home made eats and drinks. This little business is packed onto a tricycle and features snow-cones. An ice block in the box below is shaved to make the snow to absorb the sweet flavorings that are concocted from local fruits. No artificial colors or flavors are used. Eager customers joyfully wait in anticipation of the exotic tropical delights.
The snow-cones make for happy faces and big satisfied smiles.
Fresh from the milpa, sweet hot corn on the cob is served with chili, salt and lime juice. Jane and I cannot resist. This lady’s business is portable and fits in the pail she carries to the plaza.  Her wonderful product is in big demand and was sold out in just a few minutes. There is not enough room here to tell of all the delicious seasonal fresh corn delights available in these outlying towns.


More eats arrive; this lady has bags of peeled sweet oranges, mandarins and fried corn snacks that the customers love to sprinkle with hot sauce.
Evenings in the plaza are tranquil and pleasant for families and lovers where numerous venders convey home produced treats.
The streets of Ticul are adorned with statuary depicting Mayan ritual ceremonies and these two were just delivered to the plaza and await their placement.
Ticul is an artsy-craftsy rarity with its artistic pottery and statuary reflecting Mayan culture. A concert dome and open air theatre are also prominent features of the city center plaza.
Footwear is produced in countless mom and pop shops throughout the city. This is Ticul’s main export industry.
This home business takes to the road on a tricycle, setting up shop in the little park selling something to eat, then will roll home at night.
Magnolia Palma is the lady director of the Ticul district for CFE, La Comisión Federal de Electricidad, a friend and extremely knowledgeable in area happenings. Jane and I were on somewhat of a fact finding trip and this is the person that could answer all of our questions.
On the way from Ticul between Dzan and Mani we stopped at the Ecological school.
At Mani, rural housing abounds, like this unconventional Mayan palapa featuring a carved in stone jungle tiger adornment and a Tio Sam house next door.  These newly constructed cement block houses are jokingly referred to as “Tio Sam” or Uncle Sam houses because the money to build them came from Mexicans who went to the US as workers.
Across the street from the palapa house in the above photo we spotted this electrical service with a painted likeness of Che Guevara. This is a strongly socialist country where universal health care is provided. One of the major reasons the Mexicans find fault with the US is because in the US thousands die each year of curable diseases because they can’t afford health care.
Under the shade of a kind old almond tree in the city plaza of Mani Jane and I pause for our morning coffee and a special treat of hot freshly made tortillas. The new corn is seasonal and this is the season.
A Mayan beauty of Mani ironically poses in front of the church where her ancestors were brutally tortured and their sacred books burned.
Little Mani is very rural and surrounded by traditional Mayan milpa farms that produce the corn and other produce to feed these communities.  Notice the conspicuous lack of motor vehicles.
The molino or tortilla shop where we always buy tortillas now had maiz de elote or fresh corn from the cob, which our tasty tortillas came from. Those tortillas are so good they are worth the trip to Mani.
The secret of making corn nutritious was discovered in Mexico over three thousand years ago and is called nixtamalization. The corn is boiled with powdered lime stone the night before it is to be ground and that process unlocks the protein making it a valuable food source.
Happy smiling children tell a lot about the nature of the inhabitants.
Conveniently located on the Oxkutzcab plaza the Hotel Trujeque  is basic but clean, and very reasonable. They are bicycle friendly. Note the new addition to town; the little motorized tricycle taxis are taking over from the quiet little people powered taxis.
Street pageants seem to be spontaneous here filling the air with excited enthusiasm.
Yucatán is fun, friendly and fascinating.

Additional resources and blogs about Ticul, Dzan, Mani and Oxkutzcab:
Feb. 10, 2010 http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2010/02/ticul-plus-muna-dzan-and-mani.html

Nov. 2008 http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2008/11/ticul-to-abal-yucatan.html

Feb. 2008 Mani http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2007/08/mani-yucatan_11.html

March 2008 Mani http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2008/04/mani-field-trip-starting-in-oxkutzcab.html

August 2007 http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2007/08/kaxil-kiuic-yucatan.html

Feb. 2007 https://bicycleyucatan.wordpress.com/2007/02/

Dec. 2007 http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2007/12/bike-and-bus-tecoh-to-tekit-and-ticul.html

More: http://www.bicycleyucatan.com/BicycleYucatan.html

Advertisements

VALLADOLID UP-DATE AND REVISIT

December 1, 2009

Much of the memorable events of travel are found in good food. On our fact finding journeys we prize above almost everything else splendid local foods. Here in Valladolid nearly everything edible is worth the trip. This lovely and scrumptious chicken dinner in savory sauce garnished with beans, chilies, olives and sautéed onion is served with yellow rice and fresh corn tortillas.
Would you believe finding this in a cocina económica?
Huevos a la Mexicana or Mexican style eggs when done right make for a sustaining breakfast that will keep your bicycle in motion until noon. Fried eggs over toasted tortillas and smothered in a savory sauce laced with garden fresh green peas sliced avocado, thick bean soup, and a stack of hot tortillas made from real corn not maseca. (We maintain that the maseca tortillas are de cartón or cardboard tortillas.)
This lovely traditional breakfast comes with several types of chili sauces and ripened bananas.
Would you believe that this and several other local specialties can be had at the municipal food court across from the main plaza where lunch and dinners are available all day at very affordable prices?
Also from the municipal food court you might want to try Motuleños, fried Motul style eggs made famous by Siqueff Restaurant that now has a Mérida location on calle 60.  They are bicycle friendly. This is an ample meal smothered in ham and cheese or the huevos a la Mexican, scrambled eggs mixed with a variety of diced chilies and whatever the cook has on hand.
At night on the streets of Yucatán you are sure to catch the aroma wafting up from street carts where a scorching grill sizzles with hot dogs, sautéed onions and toasted buns that are than covered with as much jalapeños chili peppers as you can tolerate. Hot dog in Spanish is known as perro caliente, and in the Mayan language; Choco pec.

For a traditional taste of Yucatecan food prepared in the authentic Mayan style head to the open air municipal market three blocks east of the municipal plaza or zocolo.
These young fellows are enjoying tamales baked in a banana leaf and filled with corn masa and chicken. The large bucket on the table contains the spiced tomato sauce that is the preferred topping. The small tamales are known as vaporcitos and it is customary to order several at a time. These tasty treats are steam cooked at home and then brought to the market in the large aluminum kettles you see in the background.

This is a typical array of home made items sold on the street by independent Mayan women who daily set up these provisional shops on fruit boxes. From their home gardens fruits and vegetables of the season, ground chili pepper, and achiote, a deep red coloring with a mild flavor extensively used in traditional Yucatecan dishes, some baked goods and hand crafts are sure to be found.
In the above photo the round white items, crackers that are three to a bag, are unique to the Americas and made from yucca root, also known as cassava root that tapioca is made from. They are very labor intensive to make and these lightly sugared delicate treats must be sampled. Another unique item to these street venders is the elegantly scented fresh corn cakes about six inches in diameter and half an inch thick roasted to a deep golden brown on a comal that will sustain you for hours.
Jane makes a purchase from the Mayan street vender lady who keeps her marketing overhead to a minimum and personally brought her handy work and produce to put on the market.

New to Valladolid, guided bike tours and bike rentals.

On a recent bike trip around the Valladolid area, we were happy to discover Mexigotours. Plan an extra day in Valladolid and take the tour. It is well worth the time and the price is economical.


Vivyana Hernández Molina and Toon Vande Vyvere, owners and operators of MexiGO tours and bike rentals.
Tours in English, Spanish, French, Dutch with a guide who speaks Maya.
They take you to the out of the tourist trap places for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

The tour takes you to two beautiful cenotes plus a visit to a Mayan home and a couple of villages.Take a guided bicycle day tour in the heart of Yucatán that is not only ecologically friendly but healthful. Photo opportunities in bird watching country plus sampling authentic exquisite Mayan foods 100% natural are just part of what you will enjoy.
E-mail; mexigotours@hotmail.com
Phones; +52 (985) 8560777 cel: 521 (985) 1082018
Above is one of the two beautiful cenotes that you will visit on the tour.

The ecologically friendly bicycle tours are at an easy pace, divided into pleasant segments in the tranquil back country guided by informative guides that open a seldom seen side of Yucatán to you.

Jane in front of the MexiGO tour and bike rental office in Valladolid. MexiGO is located behind the cathedral and 1 block from the central park at Calle 43 No. 204B between Calles 40 and 42. For a map, click here.

We have biked to the places on this tour. Check out our website * for stories of some of the places we visited on our trips to Valladolid from Tulum and along the Caste War Route.
This is part of the very noisy Revolution Day parade making its way around the municipal plaza with the arches of the local government building in the background. The celebration is supposed to be a one day event but the clever Mexicans have managed to stretch it out to four days.
To make the congestion even more intense Revolution Day happens to coincide with the American Thanksgiving so the airlines and rent-a-car agencies were booked full with returning Mexicans.
A visit to Valladolid must include a trip to the open air municipal market where local items ranging from hand crafts to all the locally produced fruits and vegetables are on sale.
At the municipal market you will do business with the people that actually brought their own home produced products. Typically Mayan women, in their elegantly adorned dresses like the one above will transact the business.
If you choose to take the MexiGo one day guided bicycle tour of the Valladolid area this is just one of the many sights you will get to visit.

The variety of natural foods mixed with local color makes for photo opportunities and lasting memories at the municipal market.
Fresh pork meat in Yucatán is high quality and the tasty but greasy deep fried pork known as chicharrón are both staples of the Yucatecan diet found in the municipal market.

The twenty-first century is here but in Yucatán, blacksmith made hand-hammered iron is forged in the same old way as before the industrial revolution. The beautiful relics of the past are not produced for the tourist trade but for everyday use.

These are some of the tools of craftsmen here; hammers, chisels and punches plus essential hammock hanging paraphernalia like the wall inserts and “S’s” to connect them. Besides the machete, the caó, the question mark shaped sheet metal implement above on the upper right is an essential garden tool here.
When garden production is down it is desperate times for some.

Tom Jones of North Carolina purchased an old colonial home here nine years ago and restored it. Six months a year he and his wife take up residence in Valladolid to enjoy a slower pace of life in the land of take it easy while waiting for northern winter to pass.
Jane and I met Tom in the local tourist information office across the street and he invited us to join him for coffee and conversation.

We visited the villages of Chichimila and Tixhualactún.  Visit our web page on Valladolid for those stories: www.bicycleyucatan.com/valladolid plus stories of many other places of interest in the Valladolid area such as Uayma and the beautiful Mayan ruins of Ek Balam.

HAMMOCKS OF YUCATAN: MÉRIDA, THE LAND OF TAKE IT EASY.

December 14, 2008

HAMMOCKS OF YUCATAN; MÉRIDA, THE LAND OF TAKE IT EASY.
REST, RELAXATION AND COMFORT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!

The Yucatecan hammock is the most versatile, most easily stowed and comfortably sensible furniture item that is
perfectly suited to tropical living and you can easily take them anywhere.
Yucatecan hammocks lend themselves well to an easy going laidback atmosphere that goes hand in glove with the
natural ambiance of ecologically friendly tall shade trees or cool high ceiling open-air tropical dwellings. For all the information about hammocks that we think you need to know, check out our website: www.bicycleyucatan.comcaribbeanhamaca

TIZIMIN, BUCTZOTZ, DZILAM GONZÁLEZ AND DZIDZANTÚN

July 3, 2008

TIZIMIN, BUCTZOTZ, DZILAM GONZÁLEZ AND DZIDZANTÚN BY BIKE AND BUS JUNE 2008;
Here is another out of the travelers loop road trip to the places that tourists miss most.
Twenty five years ago when Jane and I first ate in this Tizimin restaurant called Tres Reyes, we arrived by train from Mérida. Well that train has been out of service for over twenty years now but this fixture of downtown Tizimin still hasn’t changed. Over those years the town went from third largest in Yucatan to second largest and it is a mystery to me because the place has no alluring magnetic cultural attractions. To the north of town is Yucatan’s only real cowboy country complete with huge ranchos and lots of beef cattle.

Our travels continue to Buctzotz, Dzilam González and Dzidzantún. Read more: https://bicycleyucatan.wordpress.com/tizimin-buctzotz-dzilam-gonzalez-and-dzidzantun/

CUZAMÁ VIA TECOH, CHIQUILÁ, SABACCHÉ, OCHIL AND CHUNKANÁN

March 4, 2008

CUZAMÁ VIA TECOH, CHIQUILÁ, SABACCHÉ, OCHIL AND CHUNKANÁN BY BIKE, BUS AND COLECTIVO TAXI  by John M. Grimsrud

map cuzamaQuiet country roads through picturesque Yucatan are well worth the effort and pay back with early morning tropical birds, plus brilliant tropical flowers that change season by season sweetly perfuming the air.

Escaping Mérida’s pushy-shovey horn honking, tail-gating belligerent bumper-to-bumper neurotic drivers is like flushing the proverbial toilet…and it feels so good when it is finally gone.

Our escape Mérida bicycle trip is only a little over 30 kilometers long from Tecoh to Cuzamá but the narrow little road coupled with a brand new paved section connecting Ochil to Chunkanán, that is not even on the map makes a neat cycling  loop with plenty of photo opportunities.  For the complete story with photos in a word document, click here.

For the story on published on our other blog, click here.

TICUL DAY- TRIP

February 28, 2007

This interesting city of diversity is an easy bus ride from Merida leaving from the second class bus station situated across the street from the first class “CAME” terminal in Merida’s downtown on the corner of calle 69 and 70.
The 60 kilometer bus ride departs frequently and many times there is no charge to pack your bicycles in the cargo-hold.

Our first order of business in Ticul is a stop at one of several upscale coffee shops, “up-scale” for Yucatan that is. This one is on a side street 20 meters from the Zócalo.

If you want the very best in coffee and ambiance in Ticul then Luis Echeverria

Luis Escheverria Villanueva Ticul, Yucatan

has your coffee spot situated directly on the west side of the Zócalo. Beside the fact that he loves to entertain his clients with romantic old Yucatecan songs he also is the director of the most prestigious artisans establishment in town located adjacent to the walled cemetery as you arrive from Merida. Luis’s artesian craft shop specializes in reproductions of authentic Mayan relics of fired clay and stone undistinguishable from the originals. (Some items are dreadfully provocative.)

After morning coffee and a brief bicycle tour, lunch is our next consideration and here we hit a home-run in voluminous quantity and extraordinary culinary expertise at prices that will have us coming back again and again.

The owner and operator of our no-frills restaurant proudly is posing for a photo and his the savory Yucatecan cuisine and generous portions definitely does his advertising for him.
Quiet little Ticul is renowned for being the peninsulas leader in the manufacture of artsy-craftsy pottery items and stylish woman’s shoes.
Also Ticul has a small measure of fame in having a well known Chicken dish named after it called; Ticuleños. I won’t spoil your surprise by describing this tasty dish, but I can guarantee customer satisfaction…so come on and give it a try!
If you like to snap photos Ticul will give you ample opportunities for strange and interesting curiosity shots.

Did I say artsy-craftsy pottery items? Well, that could be left open to discussion but in some cases gaudy may better describe some of these innovative creations available in imaginative and outlandish paint jobs.

Ticul street

This is Ticul’s main street with noon-hour traffic which mostly consists of bicycles and tricycle taxis double and triple parked shuttling shoppers to and from the central market across the street in this photo.
Ticul is famous for its Mayan art works and proudly displays countless statuary similar to this one throughout the downtown. This corner happens to be the zócalo park with the cathedral facing the east side of the plaza.

Ticul market

This is the back side of the central market where the items for sale are beyond description so therefore I won’t attempt to describe them…you must come look for yourself.

Church in Ticul

Again you can witness what the conquistadors did with another Mayan temple as they recycled the mountain of building materials into a form that suited their designs. You don’t have to look hard to find many faced stones inscribed with the relief from the temple this building evolved from in the façade of the door jams.

Ticul church

When it comes to adornment you will have to search long and hard to find anything around Yucatan that even approaches Ticul when it comes to artsy-craftsy public areas, so bring your camera.
I don’t know what inspired all of this street art but it would be easy to speculate that the original inhabitants of Yucatan with more than four thousand years of presence here had a hand in preserving their ancestral heritage in this way…I do hope so.
I do wish that I had the story behind these countless street statues because I am sure the history that goes with these reproductions would make a fascinating study.
I have not attempted to photograph all of the street statuary of Ticul but this is only a small sampling.
It wouldn’t take much imagination to consider this particular figure as that of some futuristic space cadet.
This one doesn’t look happy at all. Could it possibly be the fact that he is permanently dressed in a goofy outfit with shoes that are just too frivolous and fancy to go with the rest of his lovely attire?
Here is another reproduction that just screams out for an explanation.
If nothing else Ticul will get us coming back again and again to do detective work in order to decode the mystery that lies behind these ancient Mayan works of art.

It never ceases to amaze me the fabulously flavorful meals that are produced in these open-air markets with the most basic of equipment. The above empanadas are being created as fast as the scalding hot pan can be filled and emptied by the two women who are seriously involved in production.
Jane starts down a walking street that passes through the back yards of the towns neighborhoods. This is when a bicycle is the only way to really get around to see the things that the average tourists miss the most.
Here in this photo you can see the standard type of construction used in Yucatan before the advent of cement blocks. The stone is soft limestone and the mortar and plaster used is basically cal, (hydrated lime) and sand. It is soft and comes apart easily when wet or disturbed. The only thing holding the above building up is the chinked stones between the rocks.
Enterprising street venders generously give out lots of free samples and conversation.

Posada El Jardin, Ticul, Yucatan

Just three blocks from the zócalo this place is extremely quiet and fabulously furnished.
If you are looking for a local place without the pushy-shovey chain hotel ambiance then this jewel of a laid back atmosphere lavishly furnished with authentic antiques is for you. As I have often said; “not for everybody”. Well, we loved it and plan a return visit.
The above photo was taken in the entryway and if you are like we are, you will find it interesting and very appealing.
We were able to ride our bicycles directly to our apartment and there was plenty of room inside to park them.
Bicycles, tricycles and motor scooters make Ticul’s streets pedestrian friendly.
On the corner you can see the results of the avalanche that happens to these old stacked stone buildings when the wooden roof rafters, “vigas” dry rot and pull down not only the roof but much of the walls in the process. Here in Mexico it is owner beware and many shaky buildings are sold with some touch-up plaster in the cracks and a fresh paint job.
Yucatan has literally hundreds of neat towns and villages linked by quiet easy riding roads. When the going gets tough or you just want to get home the bus service is more than just amazing it is astonishing considering that you can stick your bicycle in the cargo hold and then cover lots of scenic miles in the shade of a bus or any number of taxi-vans.

Note added January 2010 : We have returned to Ticul many times.  For more recent posts on Ticul check out our website: www.bicycleyucatan.com/BicycleYucatan.html