Monday, October 4, 2010

"Cruisin' Cougars" in the Yucatan

The self-proclaimed "Cruisin' Cougars" (their on-the-ship moniker) from Michigan enjoyed a taste of the Yucatan countryside today, much along the lines of a similar tour taken with those nice folks from New Orleans a little while back.

From Progreso we drove towards Mayapan, that out of the way colossus that seems to be thankfully overlooked by so many tourists and whose ruins are really quite magnificent, especially in the silence of a Monday morning with absolutely no one else there, except for the bored caretakers at the entrance. There is something magical about the Mayan ruins when you are the only one walking around them and can contemplate the age of the stones without someone holding something in front of your face saying "One Dollar, One Dollar" repeatedly a la Chichen Itza.

Of course there was a stop at Acanceh, which on this occasion included a visit to their bustling market, where we had the most delicious tamales and empanadas while enjoying the sights and sounds (and smells) of a typical market day.

Leaving Acanceh, we stopped at the local tortilleria to see how fresh corn tortillas are made and the owner, the nicest man in the world, allowed us to take photos of the process and had us try fresh from the oven tortillas. When I tried to thank him by buying a half-kilo of tortillas, he put them in my hand and would not take my money. An amazing fellow.

At Telchaquillo, we visited their little cenote which only one of these ladies was willing to descend into, resulting in some (hopefully) interesting photos.

We were back in Progreso by noon, having spent about 4 hours on the road. A quick - that was the idea anyway - visit to Bancomer to exchange some dollars to pesos turned out to be an exercise in patience in dealing with the banks ridiculous procedure for exchanging US dollars; the clerk had to check each bill one by one, verifying that it wasn't in the slightest damaged or marked. The passport was requested and the lady doing the exchanging was asked for her address, with the clerk following her online cues asking such questions as what the interior number and exterior number of her building were along with the question "Occupation"?

"Why, I am a drug dealer from Michigan and have come on the cruise ship to launder my money" she did not say and finally, after a manager was called to verify the transaction and photocopy the passport and the painfully slow (and embarassing for me) process was finally completed.

The ladies had a fun time and I am sure will talk about their 'sopilotes', 'limonaria'  and 'chile max' for weeks to come. I wish them the best time in Cozumel and a safe trip back home; and by the way, these 'cougars' were pretty harmless!

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