Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

Rio Lagartos, Yucatan – Visit Sendero Peten Tucha at the Reserva de La Biosfera Ria Lagartos

November 10, 2012

 

On the seldom traveled road from Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, to Las Coloradas between kilometer 8 and 9 there is a culvert and nearby a small sign denoting 50 meters to the entrance of the hiking path Sendero Peten Tucha (A peten is a low area of land known as a hammock that emerges from the wetland marsh)

If you are looking for the perfect unspoiled wetlands getaway with no tour buses or trinket shops, this is for you. In the photo Jane stands before a palapa located at the entrance to the trail, where you may relax and refresh in the welcome tranquil shade.

This is a wetlands walking tour. We did however take our bicycles although wehad to walk in several places. Along the trail you will find numerous well shaded benches where the tropical forest ambiance can be appreciated to the fullest. The footpath, sender, divides around a huge open fresh water spring. One side of the foot path is on an elevated boardwalk through the wetlands of a mangrove hammock. The other side is a smooth well shaded pathway and both converge at a tall observation tower that commands a magnificent view.

The above sign warns: No nadir – cuidado – cocodrilos  (Do not swim – caution – crocodiles).

At the end of the trail is a pond that is actually a flowing fresh water spring.  It is home to crocodiles that only make their presence known when you tempt them by swimming in their private pond.

Climb the viewing tower situated at one side of the pond, and you may spot a crocodile, some turtles, or tropical birds, or hear the call of a tucha (Mayan word for monkey).

This is a small slice of the unspoiled Yucatan that tourists miss most…we love it.

For more information, read Jim Conrad’s naturalist’s newsletter: http://www.backyardnature.net/n/06/061127.htm

Where to Stay:

Villa de Pescadores

Malecón and Calle 14

Rio Lagartos, Yucatan

Related link: Tizimín: A Hub For Exploring Eastern Yucatan

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Yucatán’s Magic-Mérida Side Trips: Treasures of Mayab

October 2, 2011

Finally the book for traveling adventurers who want to see more than just trinket shops and crowded tourist traps has arrived.

Just launched — our new book, Yucatán’s Magic – Mérida Side Trips: Treasures of Mayab

–Built one stone at a time like the Mayan pyramids–

Over a quarter of a century of inspired exploration and recording of our travels in captioned photo stories has led my wife and me to compile an impressive collection of outings that are the foundation for this book, built one story at a time.

We present the best of the best after over twenty-five years; places, excursions, and outings. Each place we have visited we liked for different reasons; tranquility, history, view of village life, and connect with the Maya past and present, change of scenery and a look at a uniquely distinctive region.

Available at amazon.com for Kindle and in paperback.

To download  e-book EPUB edition, click here.

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

Pedro Ínfante

May 31, 2010

Pedro Ínfante
Lived hard
Died young
And left a beautiful memory

José Pedro Infante Cruz, born November 18, 1917 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is the most loved and famous Mexican actor, movie star and singer of all time.

He began his film career at age 22 in 1939, appearing in more than 60 films, and starting in 1943, he recorded nearly 350 songs. His performance in the movie Tizoc won him the best actor award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Pedro was in love with Mérida and Mérida was in love with him.

He met the exotic dancer Lupita Torrentera and had three children with her in Mérida.   Pedro was a ladies man.  He had a wife, but he often had love affairs with other women.  Many women found his celebrity and charm  irresistible.

The morning of April 15, 1957 at 8:15 a.m., aviator enthusiast Pedro Infante, while piloting his own converted B-24 Liberator bomber, crashed and was killed while leaving the airport at Mérida, Yucatán, on his way to Mexico City.

The world mourned.

A national outpouring of grief spurred the creation of three majestic bronze statues in his memory; in Mexico City, Mazatlán and Mérida.

Cast in bronze from thousands of keys donated, by his adoring fans, this art in action figure is located near downtown Mérida at the intersection of 62 and 93 in Colonia Delio Moreno Canton.

A fitting image of Pedro silhouetted against the sky he loved so much and dressed in his famous movie set attire atop a bucking horse.

Pedro Ínfante sang and recorded, Kiss Me a Lot, his one and only song in English. In Spanish, the song is Bésame Mucho and was composed by Consuelo Velázqiez, Mexico’s greatest female composer.*  That legendary song was featured in the 1951 movie A Toda Máquina in which Pedro was the star.

Pedro Infante’s reputation has enlarged greatly since his death.
He was everybody’s hero; the partying cowboy charro, people of the working class and  lovers of Mexican movies and music  around the world.

To this day, musical tributes of homage are paid to this one-of-a-kind charismatic personality by singers of traditional ranchera and mariachi music.
As Pedro rides off, his timeless songs, which resonate through the ages, are kept alive.

*For the interesting story of Mexico’s most famous female composer, Consuelo Velázqiez, click the following link:
http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1172-did-you-know-consuelo-vel%C3%A1zquez-and-b%C3%A9same-mucho

©2010John M. Grimsrud

CHETUMAL, IN SEARCH OF GONZALO GUERRERO, FATHER OF THE FIRST MESTIZO

February 27, 2010

(In Yucatán, Mexico, a mestizo is a person of mixed Spanish and Mayan parentage.)

Monument in Chetumal, Quintana Roo dedicated to Gonzalo Guerrero, his wife Zazil Ha and their children, the first mestizos.

This fascinating story actually begins with the birth of Gonzalo Guerrero back in the early 1470’s at Palos, Andalusia, Spain.
Trained as a military combatant he fought to drive the last of the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula by 1492 ending eight centuries of Islamic occupation. Then he took up his next position of soldier/sailor on Columbus’s first ocean crossing expedition aboard the small open carvel vessel, Niña.
This soldier of fortune’s story did not reappear in the annals of history again until 1511. Gonzalo set sail in good weather from the Gulf of Darien on the Colombian coast of South America north bound with looted treasure and slaves.
What happened next is one of the worst nightmare stories that could happen to anyone.
Forty year old Gonzalo was plummeted into the sea aboard a makeshift raft with no food or water, one of eighteen men and two women to survive the wrath of a hurricane that dismasted his ship and sunk it.
Only eight lived to make landfall, having to resort to cannibalism in order to survive.
Salvation did not happen. The group of eight survivors were apprehended and enslaved by their Mayan Cocom captors on the Yucatán coast.
Four of these survivors were sacrificed and eaten immediately. The others were caged and fattened for a future festival of flesh feasting. The fattening gave the remaining four the strength to escape to the Tutul Xiues tribe of Mayas who were enemies of the Cocom’s.

(An interesting fact of logistic history; in the recorded accounts of the first encounters of these Europeans arrival in Yucatán it was noted that hammocks were in use by the natives.)

Tutul Xiues made slaves of these surviving Spaniards. Due to extreme hard work and exhaustion only Gonzalo Guerrero and Geronimo de Aguilar survived.
Geronimo de Aguilar kept his religion and cultural ways but Gonzalo Guerrero took up the Mayan ways and became a military advisor and trainer teaching the Maya the combat tactics of the Spanish.  It has been speculated that this Spanish combat training gave the Mayan people of the eastern jungle part of the Yucatán peninsula the ability to drive out the conquistadors. The Mayan of the Quintana Roo region, (eastern jungle) have never been completely subdued and it wasn’t until Méxican federal forces put down the protracted Caste War in the early 1900’s that this area became a territorial part of México.
Gonzalo Guerrero left a lasting legacy with his newly adopted countrymen.
Next Gonzalo kills an alligator attacking his master and gains his freedom from slavery. He then engaged in ritual mutilation and tattooing that included piercing his ears and cheeks. These acts assimilated him into the Mayan way of life.
Gonzalo next took a Mayan princess named Zazil Ha as his wife and was given the temples of Ichpaatún north of Chetumal, presently designated on maps as Oxtankah.
Chetumal Bay has been a major route of commerce since the days of the ancient Maya because it linked sea-going trade routes to rivers incorporating man-made canals. Lamanai is one of the three most prominent Mayan settlements that remained continuously active through the post-classic period and even after European arrival that is linked by river/canal to Chetumal Bay.
In 1519 Hernán Cortez arrived at the island of Cozumel and attempted to rescue the two Spanish survivors, Geronimo de Aquilar and Gonzalo Guerrero from the Maya.
Gonzalo Guerrero replies; “I married a Mayan woman, have three children, am chief and captain, taken their ways with tattoos, pierced ears and scared face…this is my place.”
Gonzalo’s daughter was rumored to have been sacrificed in the cenote at Chichén Itza to end a locust plague.
He eventually met his fate in battle against the Spanish invaders.
Geronimo de Aguilar went with Cortez and took a job as translator.
For centuries Gonzalo Guerrero was despised by the Spanish for being a traitor, defector, and renegade. He was a man, who had fought against his countrymen, turned his back on his land of birth, society, renounced his faith and denied Christ.
After the independence of Mexico a change took place; strangely some Mexicans descended from the conquerors now began to feel a real passion for the Mayan culture. From the Maya one name that symbolizes the struggle in opposition to colonial imperialist power and a struggle for freedom was Gonzalo Guerrero.
Ultimately Guerrero would go from villain to hero and from traitor to a champion of freedom.
The Mayan ruins and Church at Oxtankah in the jungle north of Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico have been restored and memorialize this extraordinary man and his wife, Zazil Ha, the parents of the first mestizo. An adjacent lagoon in the area of the Oxtankah ruins near Bacalar bears his name.
On the prestigious Paseo de Montejo in Mérida a monument now commemorates his memory. Donated to the city of Mérida by the founder of Akumal, Pablo Bush Romero who was also the president of the Explorers Club of México this bronze monument sculpted by Raul Ayala is perched atop a stone pedestal at the north end of Paseo de Montejo.

Remarkably this monument to one of the most noteworthy Spaniards to ever venture to the New World, Gonzalo Guerrero, his wife, Zazil Ha and their three children sits between eight lanes of bustling traffic.
There is no sign of recognition or plaque of explanation and few people if any that pass here are ever aware of the incredibly fascinating story behind this first Spaniard to integrate into Yucatán.

There is no sign of recognition or plaque of explanation and few people if any that pass here are ever aware of the incredibly fascinating story behind this first Spaniard to integrate into Yucatán.

The symbolic sculpture of Gonzalo Guerrero attired in his Mayan clothing with his wife Zazil Ha behind cradling one of his infant children while another of his three mestizo children plays with a Spanish conquistador war helmet tells much of this epic story.

This sculpture of Gonzalo Guerrero is a part of the monument in Chetumal dedicated to the Cradle of the Mestizo.

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/

TABASCO; THE CHOCOLATE ROUTE BY BIKE AND BUS

April 21, 2008

TABASCO; THE CHOCOLATE ROUTE BY BIKE AND BUS


Our inspiration and motivation for this innovative out of the tourist loop trip we owe to our bicycle friends Basil Yokarinis and Alixa who conduct superb Yucatan bicycle tours that happen to extend into far reaching ends of Mexico. www.bikemexico.com
When it comes to researching their itinerary they are tops!
Computer savvy Basil combines GPS positions with Google-Earth to get the very best routes and studies mountainous quantities of research material to compile into itineraries especially tailor-made for excursions for their individual tour groups
Jane and I made our first of many trips through the state of Tabasco back in the mid-1980s when there were no bridges along the Gulf Coast…only rusty old ferry boats that sometimes were laid up for repairs or shut down for lack of fuel. We have driven the beach or ambled through coconut plantations when the road was washed away. We have put our faith in a string of wooden sticks extending out into a pond of floodwater extending off to the horizon across Tabasco’s wetlands supposedly marking the submerged road below.
Many innovative upgrades have been made over the years like all new bridges replacing the dilapidated old ferryboats but last year Mother Nature again played her trump card and submerged more than 80% of the entire state of Tabasco under hurricane season rainwater.
Basil and Alixa, our bicycle buddies, also put us on to a book that absolutely primed our inquisitive pump and whet our adventurous appetite for another dimension in Mexican travel.
The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe. This must read compendium of historical fact coupled with intriguing well illustrated chronological stories begins here in our very own back yard…southern Mexico seven thousands years ago when the Olmec of the Tabasco region first cultivated and consumed “cacao”.
The Olmec melded into the Maya who continued with cacao and brought it to the Yucatan even using it as currency.
A few weeks ago Jane and I had the good fortune to make a bike and bus trip to the Mayan town of Sotuta and there we discovered the last pre-conquest Mayan link to cacao that was being cultivated at the time by the chieftain Nachi Cocom.
When the Spanish arrived with their cattle they completely changed the ecology and the agricultural habits of Yucatan and the indigenous Maya.
Ironically our next step in this adventure story led us to the furthest western Mayan settlement of Mexico in the state of Tabasco at Comalcalco.
To make this story even more interesting, this is the very spot where seven thousand years ago the first Olmec settled, “The cradle of American civilization”, and became the first to cultivate cacao.
To this day cacao continues to be produced in this same region!
Here is our bike and bus back-country tour story with captioned photos;

On the street of our first stop in tropical Tabasco, we are in the river city of Frontera.

South of Frontera along the mighty river Grijalva, this quiet road meanders through extraordinarily beautiful lush and exuberantly green tropical wetlands where bananas grow everywhere like wild weeds.

Street food is first quality and reasonable. A few steps from our hotel in the central park we eat our fill of tasty “tacos al pastor”…habanero sauce, the green stuff, is lethally hot!

“Paletas”, are popsicles and here in the land of cacao chocolate is a standard item…the chocolate cream paletas are worth the effort of the trip.

Early morning on Frontera’s placid waterfront. This is the expansive delta country where numerous mighty meandering rivers flow down to drain the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala. This river system has countless tributaries dotted with isolated villages perched in small savannahs only accusable by boat in a prolific ever flowering wetland.

Looking south and upstream behind Jane you can see numerous small floating islands of flourishing foliage drifting down in a never ending procession of tropical growth.

The old boat bone-yard eventually pulls down all things that float and not all vessels die with their boots on.

Frontera’s waterfront market puts out an ample breakfast of, “huevos a la Mexicana” or Mexican style eggs…beans and rice are standards with almost all meals.

Our first stop in Comalcalco is a restaurant and Ismael Suarez Rodriguez and his happy crew go overboard to please us with hospitality and elegant Tabasco style cuisine that beckons us to return.

In the world of chocolate this modest little candy store in the heart of Comalcalco’s downtown can’t begin to relate the intriguing story behind an eco-friendly family industry that has it roots in a several thousand year old area cacao production beginning with the ancient Olmec.
Vincente G. of Cacep
Ing. Vicente A. Gutiérrez Cacep is the director general and driving force behind “Cacep Chocolates” and he has dedicated his life to the highest standard of quality beginning with the seedlings and each and every step of production to the finished product you see here.

Jane and I bicycled out along a perfectly lovely country road, reminding us very much of Holland through lush green farmland for our early morning guided tour of the Cacep Chocolate Hacienda Jesús Maria and processing facility.
We began our tour at the root of the process in the nursery where several types of cacao plants are germinated and also grafted varieties are created that produce special fruit on specific sized and shaped plants.

The small plant on the left is a cacao started from seed and all the rest are the same age, but grafted and the difference is obvious. The seedling require up to seven years to produce and the grafted varieties begin in four years.

This is the beginning of the fruit, this tiny flower requires a certain insect, known as midges to interact in the germination process. A thick carpet of decaying leaves covering the ground is essential for this delicate process to be carried out.

The young fruit grows directly out from the tree trunk similar to papaya.

For cacao production a thick canopy tropical jungle is required with natural composted leaf mulch to work in harmony with the insects and bacterias that make the cycle complete.
This is a completely eco-friendly plantation where no insecticides or herbicides are used, only naturally prepared plant substances are administered for nutrients and repellents.

Harvested cacao fruit awaits the extraction of the precious seeds.

Within the cacao fruit pod are located the seeds packed in a white creamy ooze that is wonderfully flavorful and it is a delight to suck that creamy covering.
I am surprised that nobody had made a market for this heavenly ambrosia that is only washed away in processing.

Discarded fruit pods are put aside for composting.

In the above photo of cacao being sun dried you will notice two different colors. The light brown beans in the foreground are called “lavabos” or washed. The darker brown beans in the background are known as “fermentados” or fermented, a process that takes up to seven days and causes sprouting to occur changing the flavor aspect completely.

Cacao beans smoking hot out of the roaster are done for a special order. This is but one of many steps in a very complicated process that transforms the cacao into various end products that range from candy bars to chocolate for drinks and various powdered foodstuffs.

In days gone by chocolate was made by hand ground on a stone metate like the one above and various ingredients were added such as vanilla, cinnamon and different types of sugar.

At the Cacep cacao hacienda Jesús Maria they have preserved many historical items from their beginnings like this original open air kitchen using clay pots, an open wood fired stove and hand grinder.

Smiling, efficient and helpful production manager, Mariana Triano Cupil guided us through the hospital-clean final manufacturing facility, part of Cacep chocolate.
Learn more about this incredible operation at www.cacep.com in English or Spanish and see first hand the many types of eco-friendly one-hundred percent natural products produced here where it has been cultivated several thousand years.

After a wonderful time with a special friendship formed Jane and I pose with the owner of Cacep Chocolates Vicente A. Gutiérrez Cacep and his retired but still active father.

On our week long Tabasco tour Jane and I visited numerous cacao plantations, haciendas, markets and retail outlets. Our conclusion; Cacep Chocolate is the very best in every way.


Here at Comalcalco in the land of the ancient Olmec Indians, “The cradle of American Civilization” is located the western most Mayan temples of the later Chontal Maya.
Third from the left in the above photo is archeologist José Jacobo Mugarte Moo, the director of these historically important ruins, the only Mayan ruins ever built of brick.


Every afternoon on this downtown Comalcalco street corner this man sets up shop selling his collection of live land-crabs ready to take home and steam up.
We have also seen this fresh food business in the Bahamas Islands, but it only flourishes in tropical places with extensive unpopulated beaches.
Little investment is required, they are caught by hand and as you can see the no expensive merchandising is required to make the sale.

An early morning taco breakfast at an open air restaurant on the streets of Comalcalco.

Chicken panuchos dazzlingly presented and deliciously delectable.

Fresh milk is still delivered on the streets of Comalcalco by bicycle and dispensed in a tin measuring cup by the smiling milkman.

Owner and operator, Victor Fuentes of Hotel Pat-Mal, Morelos No. 606, Comalcalco, where we enjoyed our clean, quiet, cool and convenient room where we were able to roll our bicycles right into our room.

We enjoyed the market in Comalcalco and tasted many delightful foods from the market.

These large tortillas made from fresh corn were delicious!

Comalcalco was a very friendly place and we definitely plan to return!

Mani Field trip starting in Oxkutzcab, March 2008

April 4, 2008

Mani Field trip starting in Oxkutzcab, March 2008

Mani

Field trip to Mani conducted by Lennie Martin of the IWC Maya Studies group and Estela Keim of the IWC Merida Hispanic Culture group.  Jane and John started the trip in Oxkutzcab, Yucatan and biked the following day to Mani to join the group.

For photos from Mani, click the link below and view as a slide show:

http://picasaweb.google.com/MeridaIWCPhotos/2008FIELDTRIPMarch28

For the story, click the link below:

https://bicycleyucatan.wordpress.com/mani-field-trip-starting-at-oxkutzcab/

Recommended Reading:

Ambivalent Conquests by Inga Clendinnen

Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John L. Stephens

The Caste War of Yucatan by Nelson Reed

Maya Missions by Richard and Rosalind Perry

Time Among the Maya by Ronald Wright

Genesis by Eduardo Galeano

Open Veins by Eduardo Galeano

Dreaming of the Maya Fifth Sun by Leonide Martin

Mani, Yucatán

March 7, 2008

Mani 01
A visit to Mani, Yucatán by John M. Grimsrud
Mani is a small quaint, quiet and tranquil Mayan village 80 kilometers south south-east of the capital city of Mérida. Nearby is the shoe and pottery manufacturing city of Ticul plus the garden market capital of Yucatan, Oxkutzcab.
Mani is also situated on the age-old seldom traveled but famous “Ruta de Los Conventos’.
This seemingly unpretentious diminutive settlement has the incredible distinction of being continuously inhabited by one of the most technically advanced civilizations the world had ever known for the past 4,000 plus years… an astonishing and impressive claim to fame that few places on this planet could proclaim.

Today minute and modest Mani is serenely passive but this off-the-highway rural community was once the tragic site of one of the most heinous degradations of cultural heritage and spiritual annihilation that this world has ever witnessed.
January 6th, 1542 the Spanish conquistadors established a permanent encampment on the Yucatan peninsula at the height of their fanatic inquisition fired religious rampage.
This was a mere fifty years after the first Spanish explorer; Christopher Columbus set foot upon the New World at the Bahamas Islands.

Between 1549 and 1559 under the tyrannical direction of Fray Juan de Mérida the enslaved indigenous Maya were forced to pull down their ornate astronomically oriented sacred temples that pre-dated Christianity by thousands of years and with the remnants build a Catholic church and convent upon their native soil.
The inquisition crazed conquistadors inflamed by self-righteousness were mandated by their God to plunder the Yucatan’s indigenous residents whom they deemed to be heathen heretics that worshiped ancient pagan gods in false temples indulging themselves in unholy sacrifices which they had been doing for more than three very un-Christian millenniums.
The Spanish inquisitionists were by this point in time well practiced in ethnic cleansing and imperialistic expansionism having successfully purged the Iberian peninsula of the Jews and Moors.
In spite of the 500 years of degradation, slavery and absolute plunder of the Mayan civilization it is a remarkable attribute to these long suffering original inhabitants of Yucatan that they still to this day perpetuate the sacred rituals of their ancestors, speak in their original Mayan tongue and even dress in their traditional custom.
To this day the Mayan daily partakes of the culinary specialties of their ancestors.
These Maya are the people that brought the human race such things as corn (maize), tobacco, chocolate, cotton, tomatos, pineapple, peanuts, chili peppers and turkeys that have all impacted mankind monumentally to this day.
Besides a myriad of food products the indigenous of the Yucatan introduced to global humanity they also were the hemispheric healers armed with thousands of medicinal plants that even now enhance more than 500 American prescription drugs.
Quinine and ipecac are still standards of the pharmacy but cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms eased pain and altered the mental state that were but a few in the huge inventory of medicinal remedies dispensed by these technologically advanced original inhabitants.
What the Mayan received in return from the Spanish conquistadors were horses, rats, cockroaches, pigs, weeds, fruit trees and thousands of men all infused with diseased petulance that unleashed a pandemic that rapidly dwindled the indigenous populace.
Smallpox murdered more native Americans than several hundred years of systematic Spanish slaughter.
There definitely was some pay-back involved when the Indigenous of America sent home to Europe syphilis with Christopher Columbus that became epidemic by 1495, along with tobacco and cannabis to smoke. The great exchange saw winners and losers on both sides.
02 Mani
Former convent San Miguel Arcángel in Mani, Yucatán as seen today.
03 Mani
THIS PEACEFUL COURTYARD IN NEAR THE ATRIUM WHERE FRAY DIEGO DE LANDA BURNED THE MAYAN BOOKS AND THEIR RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS WHILE BRUTALLY TORTURING HIS VICTIMS.
To further plunder these overrun indigenous, in 1562 Fray Diego de Landa burned and destroyed 5,000 Mayan figures of their God, 13 altars, 27 parchment books made of deer hide and 197 decorated pottery containers of worship.
All of this was done to drive these “heartless heathens” to Christianity.
From the book “Genesis” by Eduardo Galeano; 1562: Mani page 137

The Fire Blunders

Fray Diego de Landa throws into the flames, one after the other, the books of the Mayas.
The inquisitor curses Satan, and the fire crackles and devours. Around the incinerator, heretics howl with their heads down. Hung by the feet, flayed with whips, Indians are doused with boiling wax as the fire flares up and the books snap, as if complaining.

Tonight, eight centuries of Mayan literature turn to ashes. On those long sheets of bark paper, signs and images spoke: They told of work done and days spent, of the dreams and the wars of a people before Christ. With hog-bristle brushes, the knowers of things had painted these illuminated, illuminating books so that the grandchildren’s grandchildren should not be blind, should know how to see themselves and see the history of their folk, so they should know the movements of the stars, the frequency of eclipses and prophecies of the gods and so they could call for rains and good corn harvests.

In the center, the inquisitor burns the books. Around the huge bonfire, he chastises the readers. Meanwhile, the authors, artist-priests dead years or centuries ago, drink chocolate in the fresh shade of the first tree of the world. They are at peace, because they died knowing that memory cannot be burned. Will not what they painted be sung and danced through the times of the times?

When its little paper houses are burned, memory finds refuge in mouths that sing the glories of men and of gods, songs that stay on from people to people and in bodies that dance to the sound of hollow trunks, tortoise shells, and reed flutes.

***
As atonement for destroying the books of one of the greatest civilizations the world had known obliterating their art, literature, mathematics, astronomy and medicines Fray Diego de Landa wrote a document of the conquers view entitled; “Relation de Cosas de Yucatan”.
***
Disembarking the local bus from Merida on a week-day morning at the central plaza in modest little Mani we were pleasantly struck by the hushed quiet and unhurried tempo of life so seldom found anywhere in the world today.
Jane and I spent an incredibly interesting day at Mani, shooting 350 photos between the two of us, had a very memorable meal of the traditional Mayan Poc Chuc at one of the smaller restaurants named “La Conquista” on a side street less than two blocks from the church and laid plans to incorporate Mani into our cross-country bicycle touring.
(We have made our return to Mani by bicycle and it again proved to be a very special place that somehow generates haunting sensations of the great Mayan civilization that called this place home for over 4,000 years and to this day has not lost its grip.)
If you are looking for quiet, peaceful and serene, then week-day visits are a must.
I must add here that in this world of rapidly changing times you owe it to yourself to visit this minute look into the past at Mani if for no other reason than the winds of change have piped-up and are spreading fast.
Consider this; in the early 1970s when I first visited the Yucatan peninsula over half of the inhabitants lived in thatched roofed palapa houses as they had since they first settled here 4,000 plus years ago.
04 Mani

MANI HAS A CONSPICUOUS LACK OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND STREET NOISE. OBSERVE THE CONTRASTS; THE PALAPA THATCHED ROOF HOUSE, (RIGHT) THE MAYAN LADY,( MESTIZA) IN HER TRADITIONAL DRESS, (HUIPIL) AND CARRYING ON HER HEAD IN THE TRADITIONAL WAY HER MAIZE, (CORN) TO BE GROUND AT THE MOLINO, (CENTER). WITH THE EXCEPTIONS OF THE PLASTIC BOWL ON THE HEAD OF THE LADY AND THE TIENDA, (LEFT) WITH ITS GAUDY COCA-COLA SIGNS THIS SCENE COULD HAVE TAKEN PLACE SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS AGO.
05 Mani
BEDECKED IN GOLD THE RETABLO OBSCURES THE RECENTLY RESTORED ORIGINAL PAINTED FRESCOS PARTIALLY VISIBLE ABOVE THE ALTAR.
06 Mani
THE MASSIVE CHURCH WALLS ARE THE REPOSITORY FOR THE STONES THAT FORMERLY COMPRISED THE MAYAN TEMPLE THAT HAD ORIGINALLY STOOD UPON THIS VERY SPOT.
07 Mni
WE SPENT REFLECTIVE MOMENTS AND TRANQUIL TIME HERE IN THIS ANCIENT CONVENT AND CHURCH CONVERSING OF THE HAUNTING EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE WITHIN THESE VERY WALLS.
08 Mani
THE MASSIVE MANI CHURCH AND CONVENT BUILT UPON THE SITE OF THE FORMER MAYAN TEMPLE AS IT IS TODAY AND LITTLE CHANGED FOR THE PAST 450 YEARS.
09 Mani
THIS IS THE CORRIDOR OF MANI’S MUNICIPAL BUILDING WITH ITS COLONIAL SPANISH ARCHES AND EXPOSED WOODEN “VIGAS” OR CEILING RAFTERS BUILT WITH STONE FROM MAYAN TEMPLES.
10 Mani
THIS PAINTING HANGS IN THE CORRIDOR OF THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING. IT DEPICTS THE “AUTO DE FE” OF 1562 WHEN THE SACRED WORKS OF THE MAYA WERE DESTROYED. IN THE SAME CORRIDOR IS A DISPLAY OF RECENT PHOTOS OF THE MAYA OF MANI MAKING A CEREMONY TO CHAK, THEIR GOD OF RAIN.
11 Mani
WITHIN THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING IS LOCATED THIS SCHOOL THAT PROUDLY PROCLAIMS; “NO TOBACCO SMOKE SCHOOL”.
OBSERVE THE ORNATE MAYAN HAND CARVED STONE DOOR JAMBS THAT ARE BUT SMALL REMINDERS OF THE GLORIOUS TEMPLE THAT THEY WERE TAKEN FROM AND THE IMMACULATELY CLEAN SURROUNDINGS.

12 Mani
A LOOK AT THE OLDER SIDE OF MANI WITH A PALAPA THATCHED ROOF HOME THAT IS QUICKLY BECOMING A THING OF THE PAST. THIS TRADITIONAL STYLE OF HOME CONSTRUCTION DATED BACK THOUSANDS OF YEARS HERE IN YUCATAN.
13 Mani

14 Mani
A STREET VIEW FROM A SMALL CHAPEL REVEALS MANI’S TRANQUILITY.
15 Mani
PLAYFUL YOUNG GIRLS OF MANI ARE DESCENDANTS OF CONQUISTADORS AND THE MAYA MIXED.
16 Mani
HERE IN THIS OPEN AIR KITCHEN ON THE SOUTH WEST CORNER OF THE ZÓCALO PLAZA A WOMAN IS PREPARING PUCHERO OVER AN OPEN FIRE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING. PUCHERO IS A TRADITIONAL THICK MEATY SOUP WITH LOTS OF VEGETABLES. THIS LUNCH IS FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN AND IS DISPENSED FOR TWO PESOS PER PERSON OR 20 U. S. CENTS.
17 Mani

OUR TALENTED WAITER AT THE LA CONQUISTA RESTAURANT PROUDLY DISPLAYS ONE OF HIS MANY PAINTINGS THAT ADORN THE DINING AREA ALONG WITH WORKS DONE BY HIS FATHER.
18 Mani
OUR AMPLE AND DELICIOUSLY SAVORY LUNCH OF POC CHUC
19 Mani
THIS IS OUR BUS BACK TO MERIDA BEING LOADED WITH A PAY-LOAD OF LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE DESTINED FOR THE MARKETS THERE.
***
So dear reader as you can see a day-trip out of Merida can be action packed, fun filled, informative, educational and extremely unusual…like a trip into another time and place.
After this day-trip you will be back to Merida in plenty of time for a leisurely dinner and an evenings worth of entertainment.

For more on Mani and our later bike trip there, click the link below: http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com/2007/08/kaxil-kiuic-yucatan.html