Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Things to do on the Highway to Uxmal - The Hacienda Ochil


Ochil is another hacienda, one of the hundreds of them that are scattered throughout the peninsula of Yucatan in various stages of decomposition or restoration, depending on who the owner his, the depth of his or her pockets. In the case of Ochil, which has been semi-restored, the owners have very deep pockets; indeed, they also own the luxury haciendas run by Starwood. One interesting thing about these hacienda owners is that they have set up a fund or foundation through Banamex, the Mexican bank they also happen to own, that encourages and assists local artisans in the communities where the haciendas are located to produce and sell artesanias. At Ochil, for example, you will see workshops set up for textiles and filigree production as well as stone cutting and carving.

Unlike many haciendas, this one is easy to visit as it is on the way to Uxmal, a popular destination for people visiting the Yucatan. Located near the Abala exit on the highway from Uman to Uxmal, there is a large sign on the side of the road that you really can't miss. 

It is a pleasant place to have lunch, visit some of the artisans workshops mentioned above or simply have a tamarind margarita cocktail. If the light is right, in the late afternoon perhaps, it is also a fantastic place to take photographs as the hacienda is full of pleasing architectural details, colors and angles that you will not tire of. 

Keep in mind that if you only want to visit the hacienda, they will ask for an entry fee. Among the other things to see or do at the hacienda: a gift shop which was once the chapel - look at the walls, the niches and notice how everything of value has been chipped off and looted (before the present owners rescued the property from abandon); the small museum and of course the James Turrell designed (thanks Missy!) amphitheater in the depression that leads to the (unswimmable) cenote.


(above) the chimney or smokestack


(above) one of the former workers houses


(above) miniature railway contraption


(above) arches abound


(above) amphitheater and cenote


(above) definitely a Moorish arch


(above) papayas


(above) fountain


(above) former irrigation tank now a small pool


(above) the restaurant


(above) Yucatecan appy sampler platter


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