Archive | April, 2015

The Yucatan Meander Continues

26 Apr

While meandering may mean – to wander aimlessly taking a roundabout course, our Torta vacation wasn’t entirely aimless. We left the coastal town of Rio Lagartos and passed one of many old monasteries sprinkled throughout the Yucatan. This one had a small museum inside and a gatekeeper. I think it was more of an opportunity to ask for donations.

Give Lisa an old building to explore and she's in heaven.

Give Lisa an old building to explore and she’s in heaven.

Colonial ruins may not be as old as ancient pyramids but they’re pretty cool.

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The bell still is used to call locals to mass.

The old bell is still used to call the faithful  to mass.

Next stop, to explore a taller or workshop we came to along the highway and talk to the women who make and sell hammocks for a government cooperative. This is when speaking Spanish really comes in handy. The materials are sent from Merida. The women do the work and make almost nothing for their many hours sitting at a loom (by U.S. standards). There are no minimum wage laws in Mexico. We bought some baskets that will be featured in the Show and Tell blog at the end of the trip.

I would have loved spending the day learning the process.

I would have loved spending the day learning the process.

We arrived in Valladolid and immediately headed out on bicycles to visit a cenote (natural sink hole) that’s situated in the center of town. We were hungry and had been told that the restaurant nearby was a good choice.

There are different kind of cenotes, pronounced sen O tay. Some are above ground, like Cenote Azul in Bacalar. Others have the roof partially caved in and some are completely underground. While in Valladolid, we saw them all, one more breathtaking than the next.

Air conditioned on a hot day.

Air conditioned on a hot day.

Roots from the trees above reaching for the water.

Roots from the trees above reaching for the water.

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We love Valladolid and spent four days visiting the mercado, artisan museum, and cenotes.

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Paper mâché.

Paper mâché.

This painting of a church in Izama, the yellow city put it on our must see list.

This painting of a church in IzamaL, the yellow city, put it on our must see list.

The thing that has surprised the most about adventure is having our minds stretched as to what is beautiful, amazing and possible. Around every corner our eyes grow big and we are in awe. The fun had just begun.
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The Amazing Meander

19 Apr

Years ago Lisa and I applied to the Amazing Race. After all, we love to travel AND we are very entertaining, at least to us! As our Yucatan adventure continues we can’t help but see ourselves on another kind of Amazing Race. We call it the Amazing Meander. We left Holbox, Yucatan heading south. Feeling a bit peckish we turned left at a sign for a cafe. We were curious at what could be down a little road off a little road. We found Vera’s Cafe.

A world traveler living in a tiny village, Vera made us a delicious lunch.

A world traveler living in a tiny village, Vera made us a delicious lunch. Mexico never ceases to amaze.

Nearby were ancient Mayan trees and an orchid preserve.

These trees were enormous.

These trees were enormous.

The Mayans believe that these trees are holy and are compensated by the government to protect them.

The Mayans believe that certain trees are holy and are compensated by the government to protect them.

Many types of orchids grow on our property in Bacalar.

Many types of orchids grow on our property in Bacalar. These and many others were for sale.

We headed toward Rio Lagartos, a sleepy little fishing village home to flamingos and hundreds of species of birds. We got quite lost along the way, but that’s part of the adventure. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. image We scheduled a six a.m. birding boat tour.

A green heron. Santiago had great eyes and slowed to make sur we didn't miss anything.

A green heron. Our guide  had great eyes and slowed to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

I tried to photograph the flamingos but an iPad just doesn’t work for some things. Besides I was too overcome with emotion to focus very well. Another bucket list must see.

We witnessed a parade of flamingos walking on spindly legs across the mud flats.

We witnessed a parade of flamingos walking on spindly legs across the mud flats. Just awesome.

Of course no visit to Rio Lagartos is complete without a Mayan spa treatment. After soaking in a sulphur warm spring, we covered ourselves in clay. The boat ride to the next stop allowed the clay to dry.

Our skin was baby soft.

Our skin was baby soft afterward . lol

A working lighthouse adds to the charm.

A working lighthouse adds to the village charm.

Another night in Rio Lagartos then off toward Valladolid. image My challenge to you this week is to go on your own meander. Even if it’s on your lunch hour. Take a different path, open your eyes, report back, preferably with pictures DOS TORTAS image

Isla Holbox

12 Apr

Lisa and I have done our share of island hopping over the years. From Padre Island in south Texas, Caye Calker, Belize, the Greek islands of Myconos, Santorini, and Hydra, to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel in Mexico. You can’t plan a tour of the Yucatan without having Isla Holbox (‘ol bosh) come on the radar. Asking about, I was surprised how many Bacalareños had not visited it.

After spending the night in Tulum, we headed for parts unknown, at least to us.

After spending the night in Tulum, we headed for parts unknown, at least to us.

We arrived in Chiquila on the coast. Folks make their living by providing parking as Holbox is a golf cart only island. I did some fancy backing to fit our truck into the space provided. Buena chofer and smiles all around.

A tight squeeze getting in. Getting out was even more fun.

A tight squeeze getting in. Getting out was even more fun.

A fun ferry ride with families off to enjoy the final weekend of the Semana Santa vacation.

A fun ferry ride with families off to enjoy the final weekend of the Semana Santa vacation.

Lisa catching a little siesta.

Lisa makes time for a siesta.

We watched amazing sunsets from a little hotel on the beach.

The Golden Paradise

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The Golden Paradise

For three days we’ve visited with the neighbors and watched a pair of ospreys tend to their young.

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Isla Holbox is one of those places you wished you’d visited ten or twenty years ago, before the fancy hotels and easy access. But I’m glad we got here when we did. Bringing our bicycles allowed us to see more of the island without renting transportation.

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We’re off today to continue our adventure. Next stop Rio Lagartos, flamingo capital of the Yucatan. DOS TORTAS

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The iguana on the roof just wouldn't give me the photo I wanted.

The iguana on the roof just wouldn’t give me the photo I wanted.

So You’d Like To Buy Some Furniture?

5 Apr

Semana Santa in Bacalar reminds me of spring break on South Padre Island, only on a much smaller scale. Hotels are overflowing, music is loud, there are long waits in restaurants that opened just last week to take advantage of the occasion. After today we will revert back to a sleepy little town, much like Brigadoon disappearing into the mist.

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On Wednesday, our builder David took us to the little town of Limones to visit the workshop of Luis, furniture maker extraordinaire.

Luis shows us a window frame that he has made for a school. The wood is so beautiful.

Luis shows us a window frame that he has made for a school. The wood is so beautiful.

We looked at different types of wood, mahogany, hard cedar and others who’s names don’t translate into English. The grains were amazing showing a variety of color hidden in a log.

A rich red-purple vein that ould be polished and stained for a table or bench.

A rich red-purple vein that could be polished and stained for a table or bench.

This local cedar had wonderful hues of pink and purple.

This local cedar had wonderful hues of pink and purple.

Next we visited the sawmill to see the source of this lovely wood. Logging is rigorously monitored in Mexico. I was not willing to purchase wood that had been stripped from the jungle to provide us a front door.

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Logs are sliced into boards that dry in the sun.

Using a huge bandsaw boards are cut and stacked to dry.

Using a huge bandsaw boards are cut and stacked to dry.

Having worked in the furniture making industry, Lisa was in heaven, even having a conversation with Luis that neither of them really understood.

Beautiful boards shipped all over the world.

Beautiful boards shipped all over the world.

Anyone want a table shaped like Texas?

I bet they could sell this for a fortune.

I bet they could sell this for a fortune.

For every tree cut, a hundred are planted.

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Back in Limones we stopped at a furniture store. It’s good to know our options. No decisions to make yet but soon.

Look at the different wood in this table.

Look at the different wood in this table.

For the patio perhaps with olorful cushions.

For the patio perhaps with colorful cushions.

We are off this week for a road trip around the Yucatan looking for old doors to repurpose. We hope to visit a few churches, cenotes and maybe an island or two. Until next week. DOS TORTAS

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