Quote

"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, October 28, 2018

2/12 Staycation: Gran Real Yucatan Hotel and Puuc Ruta


(Source: https://www.granrealyucatan.com/en-us/gallery)

Gran Real Yucatan Hotel
Calle 56 #474 esquina 55
Centro historico, Mérida, Yucatán, México

(999)924-8268 (999)928-6081 (999)928-6082
reservaciones@granrealyucatan.com}
https://www.granrealyucatan.com/en-us
ventas@granrealyucatan.com


The Gran Real Yucatan Hotel is another historic home converted into a multi-story hotel.

The entrance surprised me, it was unassuming with two glass doors that opened onto an unadorned foyer.

I got a room on the third floor. I liked the room, it had a room safe, a refrigerator, a good air-conditioner and a balcony with a view of the pool. Maybe the third floor is lucky for me.
 

Placards in the room advised travelers how to save on water by reusing their linens for a day or two by placing a placard on their bed or hanging their towels up. But, I am not sure some of the staff pay attention to the cards or my hung up towels because they changed the towels.




The hotel has an elevator and ramps which I used everyday.


The Gran Real Yucatan Hotel is an easy walk both to the large mercados and Plaza Grande.

Friday afternoon, Fideo the bartender, made a papaya & agua, a non-alcoholic beverage, for me. Later, as I explored the mercados, I realized I could buy groceries from several grocery stores and keep them in the room's refrigerator. I bought some juice and bottles of water.

Later, I enjoyed the hotel's pool. The pool is about 4 feet deep. While not a large pool, I swam mini-laps. Lounge chairs and umbrella roofed tables sat on the pool's large, oval cement skirt. Garden areas, complete with geckos, filled in various spaces near the pool and along side the building walls.






While the hotel had several guests, it was quiet. The hotel staff were very attentive and helpful.

Friday night, I went exploring the area around the hotel. There wasn't much to explore. At night, there are few tiendas open. To get something to eat, you need to walk to Plaza Grande or eat in the hotel. I had a delicious dinner at the hotel in the bar area near the pool. The bar area has a TV and several round tables with barrel chairs. Also, the hotel had decafe coffee, not easy to find.



(Brochetas de Pollo)
If you read my blog, you know, I am not a food connoisseur. But, I can be discerning when I eat out. This meal was tasty due to the choice of roasted vegetables, the lightly grilled chicken and a delicate sauce.

Saturday, as I stood on the sidewalk before going exploring again, I thought about Mérida and all of the changes it has gone through.

As I began my Staycations in Mérida, changes are all around, new hotels, improved infrastructure, new cultural centers, businesses, restaurants, cafes, shops, services and more. I find the changes overwhelming in many ways. In a word, this is the gentrification of a city.

I tried to imagine what this area of Mérida looked like a 100 years ago. One hundred years ago, in 1919, Mérida was still lush with the riches from "Green Gold", the production of henequen.

I imagined unpaved streets, homes and businesses without electricity and various types of horse-drawn wagons and carriages used for passenger travel, and merchants and builders carrying supplies.

The 1898 Spanish-American war spurred the demand for natural rope fiber. Over the next years, over 1000 haciendas/henequen plantations were built and developed in and near the city to cultivate the "Green Gold."

The Gran Real Yucatan Hotel was part of a henequen farm and later a served as a farm export site. Mérida, at one time, was the richest city in Mexico due to the production of henequen. But, over the next three decades, the sales of henequen would decline then crash.


The Mexican Revolution, the U.S. Great Depression and Mexican land reforms reduced the price and demand for henequen fiber. In the 1940s, the creation of synthetic rope fibers reduced the demand for henequen significantly.

Most of the haciendas were eventually abandoned.


In the 1990s, a few remaining Hacienda and colonial home owners, and Mérida's city government strengthened their agenda to appeal to tourism through a program of preservation. Tourism is the new "Green Gold" for Mérida and the world.

I explored the mercados again and found several blouses for under 50 pesos each, that is a bargain. I also discovered another economica cocina, Super C&C, where I had a tasty torta pollo. Mexico appeals to my tightwad nature.


(Super C&C, economica cocina)

At most economica cocinas, you can get a meal for 50 pesos or less.

(Source: XE Converter)
Part of traveling in Mexico or other countries is checking the value of your currency against the currency of the country you are visiting.

For the last two years, the Mexican peso MX has valued roughly between $18.00 - 19.50+, meaning for every U.S dollar, you get approximately the value of the peso minus commission which varies depending on the money exchanger you use.

For example, today, 10/20/18, 1 US$ is worth $19.49 pesos. So, a lunch for 50 pesos is about $2.56 US.

Later, I went to Plaza Grande and visited one of the new tourist centers. This one had huge videos running various displays of tourist highlights to visit in the Yucatan. I found one video display fascinating. It was an interactive map. By putting in various terms in the search bar, the map would display locations related to the term. I put in "parque" and found lots of parques in Mérida.

While I was familiar with several of the parques, a few were new to me. The tourist guide explained some of the history of some of the parques like Zona Arqueológica de Xcambo near Telchac Puerto on the coast. This parque has not been had a complete archaeologic survey which illustrated there were still many archeological sites to be found, explored and studied in the Yucatan.



I stayed there for at least an hour, putting in different terms and exploring the map, planning future trips.

That evening, I swam in the hotel's pool, again. Hotel pools are my passion.

Sunday, I took an all day tour, Uxmal and Ruta Puuc booked through Tours Sol Turquesa at C60 #499 x 59 y 61, 999 593 34 88.



Because the Yucatan is basically flat, I had chosen the Ruta Puuc tour because I wanted to see the mountains as well as the other sites.

After a great hotel breakfast, the tour guide came around 8:30am. After picking up other tourists, we rode out of Mérida. As we approached, Grutas Loltun, you can see some of the small mountains in the distance.




Grutas Loltun is the location of a huge underground cavern that Mayans used for thousands of years. Because of my difficulty walking, I waited outside the cave for the others to return from their tour.

Our next stop was Kabáh.

While I have visited Chichén Itzá and Dzibichaltún, and continue to study Mexican and Mayan history, when I first saw the ruins of Kabáh, I was overwhelmed by a flash of insight at the immensity and complexity of the Mayan culture.




While Kabáh is not one the larger Mayan site, it is complex with beautifully constructed buildings and impressive architecture.


(Codz Poop Palace with repeating images of the Mayan God Chaac at Kabáh)
(Source: By Mesoamerican - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18453374)











(Chaac, Mayan Rain God, Source: By unknown Maya artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Two Mayan gods represented throughout most Mayan ruins are the rain god, Chaac and Kukulkan, the serpent. The more I study Mayan history and culture, I am attracted to these Mayan gods. Praying for rain seems universal to all people and Kukulkan's imagery as a feathered serpent also seems universal, too. The serpent invokes images of Chinese dragons and even the dragon in Beowulf.


(Snake featured on walls of Governor's Palace, Uxmal)
(Source:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Snake_and_traditional_Mayan_lattice.jpg&oldid=289049098)





(Kukulkan: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=147279)

 
 
After Kabáh, we drove to Uxmal.

Uxmal (thrice-built) is 62km south of Mérida. Mayan architecture of the classical period (850-925) in the PUUC region is considered unique and sophisticated among Mayan architecture. Uxmal's unusual pyramid, arched doorways and distinctive carvings that adorn the structures are some of the features that set it apart from other Mayan construction.



(Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Uxmal_Plan.jpg&oldid=158563541)

After you get your ticket and before you enter the site, you enter the visitors center which has tourist souvenir shops, a restaurant, a small museum and bathrooms. The center sits at the foot of the La Casa del Adivino, or Pyramid of the Magician, a large conical shaped pyramid, a different style of pyramid than those found in other Mayan sites.

Octavio Paz states:

"The pyramid is an image of the world; in turn, that image of the world is a projection of human society. If it is true that man invents gods in his own image, it is also true that he sees his own image in the images that the sky and the earth offer him. Man makes human history of the inhuman landscape; nature turns history into cosmogony, the dance of the stars." (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_of_the_Magician)

Other major buildings on the site are The Nunnery, a set of buildings forming a quadrangle,
the Quadrangle of Birds, The Ball Court, The Governor's Palace, House of the Pigeons and the House of Turtles. The site is large and there are more features tourists on a tour don't have time to see.

Then, we visited a Chocolate museum and botanical garden. While the emphasis on the tour was the cultivation and preparation of chocolate, the botanical gardens are immense and wonderful. Many of the plants are used for medicinal purposes as well as for spices.

Within the garden are cages. Some cages held spider monkeys, others held jaguars or birds.

Also, as part of the tour, we witnessed a Mayan ritual which included music where the musicians used instruments made from natural elements like wood.


*Don't forget to tip the guides and presenters at each location,
including your bus driver and tour guide at the end of the day.

Later we returned to Uxmal and walked up the ramp past the Pyramid of the Magician to a seating area above the nunnery. It was dark, the sky was clear, the stars and constellations shone brightly above our heads. Thunder and lightning sounded and flashed in the distance.

The light and sound show that played across the face of various walls was tremendous. The history and myths of the Mayan were told in dramatic voices and sounds, in Spanish. While I don't understand a lot of Spanish, I enjoyed the show. It was dramatic, artistic and informative.


A major myth regarding Uxmal is the story of the Dwarf King. Some place the story in Kabáh, others in Uxmal. Basically, the story is about a childless old woman who wants a child. She finds an egg and tenderly cares for it. The woman is considered magical or a witch. The egg hatches and a child is born. The child grows into a man but of small stature.

In essence, the dwarf accepts the challenges of the King of Uxmal to various tests of strength, including the challenge to build a pyramid to the King, overnight. With encouragement from his mother, the dwarf meet the King's challenges and bests the King. In the last challenge the dwarf kills him and becomes King of Uxmal.

I appreciated Yucatan Today's version of the myth. In particular, I appreciate the quote below attributed to the dwarf's mother as she gives advice to her son.

“Be fair and always face the truth, but don’t forget it is more important to be good than to be fair. Follow the voices of the gods, but listen to the voices of men. Never scorn the poor and always distrust the powerful.”

It was a long delightful day.

Our tour group and tour guides were congenial. Because I have walking issues, many of the tour attendees helped me navigate some of the rocky walkways, and in and out of the van. I appreciated all the help.

The tour guide teased me in Spanish.

Visiting the ruins of an ancient culture that still thrives today, adds a dimension to the concept of culture.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haciendas_of_Yucatán

http://www.historichotelsworldwide.com/hotels-resorts/gran-real-yucatan/

https://en-yucatan.com.mx/ruta-puuc/grutas-de-loltun.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kukulkan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaac


 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uxmal

 http://yucatantoday.com/mayan-myth-dwarf-uxmal/?lang=en

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_of_the_Magician



F/S/S/M

9/18

Monday, October 22, 2018

Four Ways to Prepare Prepackaged Pasta Dish - Parmesan Fettuccini & Spinach


(Manufacturer: Knorr)
When I bought a package of Knorr Pasta Sides' Parmesan Fettuccini & Spinach Pasta in a Parmesan Cheese Flavored Sauce with other natural flavor, I thought all I would need was boiling water.
The package listed 3 ways to cook the pasta.

1. The first way, a simple way, to cook the pasta mix is to put it in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 TBspn butter. Cook for 7 minutes or until pasta is tender.

2. A second way, also simple, is to microwave the pasta mix following similar directions to the first method.

3. But, a third way, requires more ingredients and more steps. First, prepare the pasta according to method 1 or 2, when the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes, add 10oz of frozen spinach, 14oz of artichoke hearts and sour cream. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Top the final dish with 1lb of grilled chicken. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

I didn't have artichokes, sour cream, fresh chicken or cheddar cheese.

But, I have gained some confidence in adapting recipes to what I have on hand.

So, I created a fourth way, fairly simple, but does require more ingredients and more steps.


Knorr Packaged Pasta with Spinach and Chicken

Ingredients:

1 package Knorr Pasta Parmesan, Fettuccini & Spinach in a Parmesan Cheese Flavored Sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 milk, lactose-free
1 TBspn olive oil (or butter)
10oz frozen spinach
4oz yogurt, plain
2 dollops vinegar
1 can of chicken breast, drained
Parmesan cheese, dry
Advisory: The plain yogurt I used had a sweet taste.

Process:
  • Add pasta mix to large microwavable bowl.
  • Add water, milk and olive oil.
  • Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  • Add frozen spinach. Stir thoroughly.
  • Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add yogurt and vinegar. Stir thoroughly.
  • Add chicken. Stir thoroughly.
  • Reheat if desired.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each serving.




 Notes:
Attempt to determine cost to make recipe:

$17.00MX Pasta mix
$33.93 1 can of chicken breast, 354 oz, comparison $90 1 whole roasted chicken
$17.45 1 liter milk, deslactosda
$26.00 1 package frozen spinach, 500g
$5.50 - 8 yogurt, plain, 8oz
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Vinegar

While I keep receipts, it has been hard to track costs for some reason.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Toast Topping - Cream Cheese, Salmon and Salsa

Like crazy salads, I don't know when I will tire of this trend. But, so far, I have enjoyed these mini-meals. In a way, it is teaching me different food and flavor combinations.


Toast Topping - Cream Cheese, Salmon and Salsa

Ingredients:

1 slice dble fibra bread
Cream Cheese
Salmon, canned, drained
Salsa, canned
Lime juice concentrate
Basil, dry, crushed


 Note, I changed my mind. Rather than using salt, I used lime juice.


Process:

Toast bread in skillet with a pour of olive oil. Flip bread so both sides gather some olive oil.
Once bread is toasted on both sides to the shade of brown desired, remove from skillet.

Place the toast on a plate and spread the toast with a thin layer of cream cheese.

Spread a thin layer of canned salmon over the cream cheese.

Spread a dab of salsa over the top of the salmon. Think of it as a spice, use lightly.

Sprinkle about 1/2 Tspn of lime juice over the toppings.

Crush a small palmful of basil over the toppings.




Saturday, October 20, 2018

Toast Topping - Guacamole and Cream Cheese with Spices

When is an adaptation not an adaptation?

I give full credit to Tostas' author, Cornelia Schinharl, for the idea for this toast topping. But, where she uses fresh produce and herbs, I used pre-prepared items and, different and similar bottled or dry spices in different quantities.


(Tostas Nuevo Presentación by Cornelia Schinharl)


Also, I don't have an oven. All I have is a microwave and a hot plate.

Maybe one day, when I think I have the time and the fresh ingredients, I will try the recipe her way. It sounds delicious.

I have bought food items because of a recipe I wanted to try but I never seem to get to those recipes before other recipes catch my eye. So, like the jar of dry cilantro, I have several items I have not used. So, I was very happy to find a recipe where I could use the cilantro.


Toast Topping . Guacamole and Cream Cheese with Spices

Ingredients:

1 Small wedge of cream cheese, diced
1 Slice, doble fibra bread
Olive Oil
2 TBspns salsa, canned
4-6 Full TBspns, salsa guacamole, jarred
1 Pinch of garlic powder
1 Dash of hot sauce
1 Few drops of lime juice concentrate
2 TBspns cilantro, dry, crushed





Process:

Dice wedge of cream cheese.

Toast bread in skillet with a dollop of olive oil. Turn bread over so both sides gather a bit of olive oil. Turn slice over to toast both sides.

In a container, mix salsa, guacamole, garlic powder, hot sauce, lime juice, and 1 TBspn of cilantro. Mix well.

Remove toast from skillet.

Spread toast with mixture. You will have some mixture leftover.
Top toast with diced cream cheese pieces.
Garnish with 1 TBspn dry cilantro, crushed between your palms.



Note: Used San Miguel Salsa de Guacamole in this recipe which has avocado powder.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Toast to the Rescue - Gucamole and Salmon Topping

I am thoroughly enjoying Toast with various Toppings.

In my grocery explorations, I found two types of canned salmon. One was mixed with vegetables, ensalada de salmon, (carrots, corn, bell peppers and peas). The other was salmon de agua.

Also, this time I used a Salsa Guacamole by a different manufacturer. This one had some avocado in it. Others had had artificial flavor or avocado powder.

(Manufacturer: http://tuny.mx/familia-tuny-ensaladas/)

Toast to the Rescue (from boredom)!

Toast Topping . Guacamole and Canned Salmon
Adapted from: Tostas Nueva Presentacón by Cornelia Schinharl)


Ingredients:

1 slice doble fibra bread
Olive oil
2 level TBspns Salsa guacamole
2 Heaping TBspns salmon, canned
A sprinkle of lime juice
A Tspn Basil, dry, crushed
A sprinkle of garlic powder




Process:

Toast bread in skillet on both sides with a dollop of olive oil.
Remove toast, place on plate.
Spread guacamole over top of toast.
Spread salmon over guacamole.
Sprinkle lime juice, basil and garlic powder over salmon.




Tasty!

Note: I also tried ensalada de salmon. I like both versions.

Monday, October 15, 2018

My Cheating Toasts

My Cheating Toasts


I have been trying to increase my use of fresh fruits and vegetables. But, after my last avocado turned to mush because I did not use it quick enough, I bought a jar of guacamole and some other per-prepared foods.

Sadly, the brand of guacamole I bought had no avocado in it. Will need to look for a different brand that has avocado.

Also, while I do make various salsas, I use them as dips or side dishes. I prefer to use canned salsa as a spice. So, I am going back to my canned, jarred and per-prepared resources.


My Cheating Toasts

Guacamole, Salsa, & Poached Egg


Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 Slice of integral bread
1 Egg, poached
1 Heaping TBspn guacamole, jarred
1 Tspn salsa, canned
A sprinkle of Rock Salt & Macha mixture
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, jarred
S/P to taste




Process:

Add a dab of olive oil to a skillet.
Place bread slice into skillet, flip so both sides collect some of the oil.
Heat on medium-high.
Watch carefully, so it does not burn.
In the meantime, crack an egg into a small bowl with about 3 TBspns of water.
Place in microwave, cover.
Microwave on high for 40-45 seconds.
Remove dish from microwave.
Use slotted spoon to remove egg and to drain off water.
Place egg on a plate.


Back to the toast, flip bread slice to toast on both sides.
When toast is done, place on plate.
Spread guacamole onto toast.
Top guacamole with salsa.
Add egg on top.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, rock salt mixture, and ground black pepper to taste.






White Bean Mash, Salsa and Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients:

1 slice integral bread
olive oil
1 heaping TBspn White Bean Mash (store-bought)
1 Tspn Salsa, canned
A Sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese, jarred
S/P to taste

Pre-prepared tamales and white bean mash





Process:

Basically, toast bread in skillet with a bit of olive oil on both sides.
Spread beans on top of toast.
Add salsa.
Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.
Season to taste




Variation: make above recipe using a Tostada rather than toast.





Wednesday, October 3, 2018

1/12 Staycation: Casa del Balam

Staycation - Casa del Balam


Casa del Balam 
https://www.casadelbalam.com/ 
Calle 60 x 57 y 55 Centro
Mérida, Yucatán, México
01 99 99 24 21 50
info@casadelbalam.com

Prices: Moderate

Accessibility: Non-ADA accessible but has entrance ramp, elevator, and safety rails in the bathtub.

Amenities: 
  • Independent restaurant services including dining room lobby level, room and pool service
  • Free wifi
  • Pool
  • Boutique and Silver Shop
  • Convenience Store
  • Business Center
  • XBox
  • Massage services
  • Babysitting services
  • 24 on-call medical services
  • Laundry services
  • Tours and rental car service assistance
  • Security safe (not in room)
  • Free access to Yucatan Golf Club
  • Wake-up calls and 24-hour desk service

Cautions: 

Watch where you walk, the sidewalks vary in condition and size, they are often cracked and uneven.

For those with walking difficulties, while there are ramps and elevators in the hotel, many tourist sites do not have elevators.

There are touts, people offering items for sale or trying to encourage you to visit their store, restaurant or tour services, on many Calles and corners. Just say, gracias, no gracias, if you are not interested in their items.

There are few trash receptacles.


Advisories: 

Bring an umbrella, bug spray, and sunscreen.

Always carry a bottle of water.

On Sundays, several streets are closed for bici-ruta and pedestrians. Rent a bike and take a ride.

Note: Tiendas' hours of operation will vary.


Casa del Balam is a large, multi-story, renovated colonial home of the Don Fernando Barbachano family with an interior patio-garden area and easy access to Calle 60, a main street in Merida. The hotel is just two blocks from Plaza Grande, the parque in historic centro. The hotel room had a bathtub, a rarity in Merida apartments and casas. Plus, it had hot water, another rarity in apartments and casas.


The independent restaurant, Bistro 57, adjoining the hotel offers a buffet breakfast on Sundays from 7am - noon.

This is what I wanted to experience, Centro at various times of day from various perspectives.

While all throughout Yucatan, there are hundreds of places to see and learn about Mexican history. You can get a lot of history around Plaza Grande parque.

The quickest way to get tons of tourist information is to go to the Palace Gobernor's office, Palacio Municipal on the North side of Plaza Grande, Calle 61 x 60 y 62 and visit the Tourist Information Office.


Get a copy of the Yucatán Today, a magazine for tourists with lots of information and maps or visit online at https://www.yucatantoday.com.mx .

Check Olimpo's calendar for weekly events like free movies or art exhibitions, located on West side of Plaza Grande, Calle 62 x 61 y 63.

As you walk around Plaza Grande, look for the pictogram street signs on buildings at the corner of intersecting streets.



Ladvovesita at Calle 60 x 61, Centro.
This is a replica of the original sign. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-corners-of-merida-merida-mexico

 
According to Atlas Obscura, these Calle signs were added to help people give directions and for the illiterate to navigate the city.


Around Plaza Grande, you can find familiar tiendas like 7-11, Subway or Burger King. Plus, there's Oxxo, the Corporate Mexican convenience store.


You can also find economica cocinas, I suggest trying Gorditas Bena Gorda or Las Quekas on the corner of Calle 61 x 60 across from the Cathederal.





I also recommend Cafeteria Pop on Calle 57 x 60 y 62. It has economical prices and a varied menu. I often go for my favorite meal, breakfast.

There are non-emergency medical services offered by Farmacias Similares on Plaza Grande, Calle 63 x 60 y 62.


Activities around Plaza Grande: 

City Walking Tour: Sign-up for tour at City Tourist Office at City Hall on the West side of Plaza Grande, Calle 62 x 61 y 63.

At the moment, there are three tourist offices around Plaza Grande, each one serves a different purpose.

On my city tour, the guide was bilingual in Spanish and English. His audience of about ten people, seniors, young people, and children, from around the world.

The guide lead us upstairs in the City Hall building to a terrace overlooking Plaza Grande. There he talked about the history of the Mayan and the founding of Mérida. He also explained the various stops along the tour: Casa de Montejo, MACAY, San Lidefonso Cathederal, ending at Parque Hildago across from Iglesia Tercera de la Orden. The tour took about an hour.

Mérida was founded upon the site of the older Mayan city 'Tho' in 1542 by the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco de Montejo and his son after suppressing and enslaving the Mayan through war, torture and abuse. They used the Catholic religion to criminalize Mayan religious beliefs, books and rituals.

Mérida's architecture reflects Spanish and French influences as seen in the use of arches and lattice ironwork on windows and doors.

Local lore says the name Yucatán is a Spanish corruption of Mayan words meaning I don't understand what you are saying.

The city Mérida is named after Merida, Spain which was named after a old Roman city.

As you learn more about Mérida, you will learn about the history of henequen, also called "Green Gold" or sisal that at one time, made Mérida one of the richest cities in México. Henequen is a rope-like material made from the Agave cactus plant (See picture below). Henequen was grown, harvested and processed on plantations around Mérida and the product was shipped around the world. Plantation owners built grand Haciendas on their plantations and mansions in the city, many along Paseo de Montejo.




Henequén, el oro verde en época prehispánica

(Source: https://www.gob.mx/firco/articulos/henequen-oro-verde-en-epoca-prehispanica?idiom=es)

Mayans worked the plantations and were treated as slaves. Often, they were fed and housed on the plantation and paid in script. They could only spend the script on the plantation.

http://www.travelmerida.com/henequen.php https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henequen_industry_in_Yucat%C3%A1n 

Casa de Montejo: Calle 63 x 60 y 62. Completed in 1549. Images on facade reflect roman mythological images like Hercules. Also, on the facade are images of Francisco Montejo, his wife, son and daughter according to the tour guide.



For more information, see: http://yucatantoday.com/museo-casa-montejo-2/ 


In 1542, the city of Mérida was only six blocks by eight blocks in size. Entrances to the city had arches built over calles. Only the Spanish lived in the city, Mayan workers had to get permission to enter. Later, other colonias like San Sebesian, and Santa Lucia were built for workers or slaves.

Macay Art Museum: Calle 60 x 61 y 63, is open Wednesday to Monday, 10:00am to 6:00pm. The walkway is always open where you can see the current sculpture displays.

San Lidefonso Cathedral: Calle 60 x 61 y 63. This is the oldest cathedral in the Americas. Completed in 1598. For more information, see: http://yucatantoday.com/san-ildefonso-cathedral/?lang=en

Above the altar is a larger than life-size wood carving of Christ. It is the largest wooden interior figure of Christ measuring seven meters.

Iglesia Tercera de la Orden (across from Hildago Parque with statue of Manuel Cepeda Peraza) - When the Spanish ruled the Yucatan, they dismantled many Mayan temples and structures and used the limestone bricks and blocks to build their own churches and buildings. Many tour guides point out various limestone blocks in the wall of this church to illustrate this fact.



On Friday, after many hours of walking and visiting various sites, I returned to my room just in time to catch an episode of Star Trek - The Next Generation on the cable TV. That was lucky because Star Trek did not show on the SyFy channel again over the weekend. There were lots of channels, lots of children's shows, history and nature shows, plus the usual reality, sex and violence shows.

Outside my room on the third floor, I had a view of the patio garden and a seating area to enjoy a drink and write.


Then, I went for a swim. You can get a towel from the reception desk and sign for it. The pool is large and clean. I was able to swim "laps" and do some in-pool exercises.

Saturday morning, I had breakfast poolside. What a delight! Then, I took a swim before going out.




I spent most of Saturday visiting shops in the local mercados/markets:


Mercado San Benito
Exterior Calle 54 x 67 y 69 Centro
Monday - Saturday
7:30am to 6:00pm
Sunday
7:30am to 3:00pm

Mercado Lucas de Galvez
Calle 56-A x 65 y 67 Centro
Open 5:30am to 6:00pm

When you visit the mercados, it can take hours because the mercados are large and spread out over many blocks.

I was looking for another pair of cancelas (sandals/flip-flops). In order to find what you want, you need to visit several tiendas.


I found my canceltas in a tienda inside one of the large mercados with hundreds of stalls. I won't be able to find that stall again.

Cancelatas can vary in construction, shape, color and style. I was looking for cancaletas that were firm with a slight arch. Then, once you have found what you want, you have to see if they have it in your size. In Mexico, my cancelatas size is 29. While you are out, you will often have a "Mexican Day" where something interesting happens.

After a long interesting day, I came back for a rest and a swim.

I love books so of course, I visited Dante, a bookstore at Plaza Grande. Although most of the books are in Spanish, I still buy some now and then.


Other Activities and Places to Go:

Palacio of Musica: Calle 59 x 58 y 60 Centro.

City Night Tour: Pick up at Teatro Peon Contreras.

City Bus Tour: Catch a Turibus on Calle 60 next to Plaza Grande.
https://www.turibus.com.mx

City Museum: Calle 56 x 65 y 65-A, Centro.

For Foodies: Enjoy a city tour and a visit to the local market. Select items for your meal and go back to the Chef's casa and help make your lunch. Try Adventures-Mexico Tour, see:  https://www.adventures-mexico.com

 


Casa del Balam's staff was very attentive and helpful.

Great visit, my only regret was there was no coffee maker in the room. Plus, three days and two nights was not enough time to see all the things I had planned, so next time, I will stay four days and three nights.


Buen Dia (Good Day)




8/10/18 Update:

Because I did not have time to do some of the other activities I wanted to do while staying at Casa del Balam, I returned to historic Centro over the next week.

I got lucky. I attended an Astronomical presentation "The Invisible Border" in Olimpo's planetario. This was part of a series of presentations by the Sociedad Astronómica UADY.



Then, I caught a movie, Bull Durham, at Olimpo during their tribute to Susan Sarandon.

After the movie, I walked up Calle 60, the street had been closed for pedestrians. It was a delightful night. Clear skies, cool breezes and the streets were full of happy people, walking, eating in the impromptu "popup" cafes in the streets, a spill over from the nearby restaurants.

Artists had their displays out in parques.