Posts Tagged ‘Mani’

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

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