Saturday, November 26, 2011

Progreso to Mayapan and Back Again

One interesting little side trip when you arrive in Progreso and have only limited time is a visit to the often-overlooked Mayan site of Mayapan.

Mayapan is one of the three most important Mayan sites in the Yucatan; the others are Uxmal and Chichen Itza, which are much more over run by tourists, especially the latter, which is a mess with the vendors and the hordes of red-faced tourists from Cancun.

While Chichen Itza is crowded and Uxmal is very popular, Mayapan is completely silent and relatively un-visited and you can enjoy the site in all it's quite majesty. If you get local guide Eric to give you a tour (about $200 pesos) you will be treated to a passionate explanation of the site and why it was important.

The trip takes about 90 minutes of driving, which will be around the city of Merida and along a route that allows for stops in little villages along the way to admire churches and other attractions like a cenote in the center of the town of Telchaquillo, for example and it's austere but rather interesting church. These can be visited on the way there or on the way back, depending on your time constraints and level of interest.

At Mayapan, you can still climb the main pyramid, which you can not do at either Uxmal or Chichen Itza and get the fantastic view as seen in the photo on your left.

Highly recommendable and enjoyable!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Guest Comments!

"We had a FABULOUS time! I have not downloaded the pictures yet, but when I do I will for sure send you some!  

Thanks again!

- Michelle and Brian -

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Great "Boat People" Tour

A not-too-early start from Progreso with a great group of Lousianians - 13 of them - who visited Merida, ate to their hearts content AND got a history lesson at Dzibilchaltun!

From Progreso, a quick ride into downtown Merida, where we stopped in front of the Casa de Montejo who of course founded the city of Merida back in the day. 

Facade, Casa de Montejo aka Montejo's Residence
Strolling across the Plaza Grande, stopping only for photos we arrived at the Sorbeteria Colon (founded in 1905) where I instructed everyone to order a local flavor and to abstain from strawberry, which they all did. The coconut ice cream was a hit! 

Sherbets at Sorbeteria Colon, downtown Merida
Afterwards, some of the ladies could not resist buying some great leather sandals and other little goodies around the corner which cut into the government palace mural viewing time, but we were able to get into the cathedral which, as Catholics, they found fantastic. 

Then, the transportation arrived and we were off to a popular local taqueria for some real pork tacos after which we all piled back into the van and zipped off to the family cookie shop and there was carrot cake for all. 

Tacos were a hit!

As was the Carrot Cake!
Eating that in the van, we drove quickly to Dzibilchaltun where the other boat people were leaving, which meant a nice peaceful visit and an excellent mini-tour by the best guide on site, Jose Ancona. The cenote was also blessedly free of other people and so our group was able to swim in peace and quiet, enjoying the magical location.

We were back in Progreso around 2 PM which left the die hard shoppers another 30 minutes to shop before they had to be back on the last free shuttle to the ship!

Definitely a whirlwind trip, but everyone seemed to be having a grand time. 

Duration: 6 hours, depends on how much shopping time you need :)
Included: Everything mentioned, from sherbet to tacos to carrot cake to entry at Dzibilchaltun to the services of the guide, plus on board water and Cokes and towels, was included in the tour price, which varies according to how many people are in your party. 

Let us prepare a personalized tour just for you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cooking Class for Cruisers

So here's the idea: you get off your cruise ship all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and are whisked away to our home, where you will have the opportunity to learn how to cook something typically Yucatecan, complete with handmade corn tortillas and plenty of wine, beer or perhaps a natural fruit 'agua'.

Interesting? Contact me and let's plan your culinary adventure!

Merida to Sotuta de Peon and on to Uxmal

While this trip has been mentioned before, I thought I would do a little write up again, since is has been a while since I have made this trip.

I picked up my victims err guests at the Fiesta Americana hotel; Mom and her two boys. Eating cookies in the back seat we drove through an awakening Sunday morning Merida to get to the periferico aka beltway and continued along that uneventfully until coming to the turn off for Sotuta de Peon (exit 4). Driving through the villages, pointing out coconut, banana and other assorted tree varieties as well as haciendas both restored and abandoned we arrived at Sotuta de Peon with enough time to visit the washrooms and have an orange tossing contest (there were oodles of freshly dropped off the tree oranges all over the ground) until our hands smelled like a Florida citrus farm.

At 10 AM, Jorge took us on the excellent as usual tour of the hacienda, the rope making machinery, the Mayan house with the world-reknowned Don Antonio and finally the refreshing cenote, always a hit with the kids and today was no exception. Luckily the other members of the tour were French and older, and did not want to swim so the cenote was all for us. Swimming here was probably the highlight of the tour, especially for the boys.

Then, lunch at the Yucatecan restaurant where there were no displays of finicky-ness so common among todays youngsters. These boys attacked the cheese empanadas, the poc chuc and the cochinita pibil with such gusto that it warmed the Yucatecan part of this foreigners heart. Also on the table were an order of queso relleno and pavo en escabeche which were very much enjoyed.

From Sotuta de Peon we drove to Uxmal via Uayalceh (an abandoned hacienda crumbling before our very eyes) as well as several other small towns. This afforded us to observe the Sunday ritual in each and every pueblo along the way: the baseball game. Some men were still playing, others had finished and were already starting on the drinking portion of the ritual, and all the ladies and young girls were watching the men and/or gossiping along the rock walls around the baseball fields.

Arriving at last at Uxmal, the sallow-faced receptionist at the Villas Arqueologicas (I have yet to see a welcoming smile and some empathetic courtesy at this hotel) did his unsmiling check-in spiel and the family was all set to have me finally leave them in the company of Chaac the rain god who was threatening to send a little love our way before the days end.

On the highway back to Merida, I noticed many black birds congregating along the roadside and thought they were just regular xkaues, or grackles. But no, when they flew up as cars passed by, I noticed they were blue! Some sort of jay perhaps?

And finally, where else but in the friendly Yucatan can you stop a man carrying a shotgun on a lonely stretch of back road and ask for directions to a hidden cenote and have him smilingly and enthusiastically give you explicit directions on how to find it?

A great day!