Monday, June 7, 2010

Hacienda Day Trip with my Georgia Folks

To take a break from all that Mayan ruin visiting, my Georgians wanted to see some haciendas.

A good little tour with plenty of wild and crazy hacienda action is out towards Uxmal, so we headed off in that direction. Our goal was to visit a few haciendas and have lunch somewhere along the way, and our first stop was the hacienda furthest out; the Hacienda Ochil.

There was absolutely no one around when we arrived which, considering the hour (10-ish), I thought was odd. We toured the workshops (stone and basket weaving) and enjoyed the ever-increasing oppressive heat and upon arriving at what apparently was the entrance gate, found it closed and locked. I started looking up the hacienda on my trusty phone to get a phone number to call when we saw someone approaching to unlock the gate and let us in. He informed us that the cost to visit the hacienda was $50 pesos and in we went.

Strolling around we came upon a large wood-burning oven which we were in the process of investigating when a very nice man came out and explained the story behind the oven; how it was built, by whom and what for. He then proceeded to ask us if we wanted a little tour. Of course! He gave us the run down on the hacienda, its history, the amphitheater, the cenote, and little details of the construction that we probably wouldn´t have picked up on ourselves.

Unfortunately there was no possibility of cooling off from the now-aggressive heat, the cenote being a rather shallow affair with dust covered water and plenty of bird activity overhead, literally. The tanque, that hacienda fixture once used for irrigation and often rehabilitated for swimming was being painted or re-sealed and so unavailable as well. There is an attractive little museum on the site as well as a very boutique-feeling gift shop with some very nice items. We settled on some refreshing Jamaica and a slushy, thick virgin tamarind margarita and then were on our way.

Next stop: the Hacienda Temozon Sur. While the Ochil hacienda was purposely left un-restored, the Temozon hacienda is the exact opposite. This is a luxury hotel where you can spend hundreds of dollars for a night (breakfast is extra). This is also where Bush and Clinton stayed when they visited the Yucatan. You can marvel at the grounds, have a meal or a drink and just enjoy the ambience. If you stay here, you will have complete access to the property including their spa and pools.

After Temozon, I suggested we visit a new-to-me cenote in the village of Peba, on the one lane road from Temozon to the highway. This turned out to be a great little cenote, with enough clear blue water to permit wading and very little in the way of touristy crowds.

Refreshed, we finished the tour with a visit to the Hacienda Yaxcopoil, which is more of a crumbling museum than anything else. To me, it does not deserve the title bestowed upon it by the readers of Yucatan Living which named it 'Best Hacienda Experience'. Um, don't think so. While it is a very complete collection of artifacts, books, Mayan stones, furniture and history, the fact that it is all literally falling to pieces in front of your eyes (and under your feet) makes it seem rather melancholy and sad. But there is a lot to see and a visit to the haciendas of the Yucatan wouldn´t be complete without at stop here. Entrance is again, $50 pesos. A guide will show you around and you can tip him at the end. There is also a small, somewhat limited gift shop.

After all that touring in the heat, we decided that we would skip lunch and part ways, the Georgians to their hotel and me off to the house for a siesta!

1 comment:

  1. Comments from one of the Georgians
    What a week of exploring, laughing, sweating, and unconventional adventures we had with Ralf. Our mission....to find haciendas and cenotes. He showed up promptly on our scheduled days for touring with plenty of cold water and drinks in the cooler and an easy-going demeanor. He was very diligent in researching several places that we wanted to see that were not the normal tourist destinations. Ralf was so easy to work with and was very compliant with our requests. On one day trip we journeyed through backroads searching for a "secret cenote". Ralf, our Indiana Jones of the Yucatan, found us our cenote which was called Peba.

    Ralf speaks fluent Spanish/Yucatecan, is funny and entertaining, and was very patient with my shopping in the sweltering heat. He, however, cannot catch an iguana, but he gave it a good try. He made our trip to the Yucatan very special.

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