5. Merida, Mexico…November.2021

Day 4 11.2
Today we were headed to Uman, but not alone.  Sherry was writing an article for Tours by Locals & we had a local guide to make the day interesting & fun.  His name was Raul & he had been born & raised in Merida.  He spoke perfect English. We all loaded up in the van at 8am ready to fill another fantastic day.  Tours are unusual for me…I don’t usually hire a guide.  Raul was great!  He not only answered so many questions we had, but told us so much interesting information along the way.

Our first stop was the market in Uman.  Sherry loves, loves, loves markets & this one was really great.  Much smaller than the super crowded one I’d been in on my first day here, but so lively & filled with so many fruits that were new to me, candies that were foreign—some just made for Day of Dead celebrations, drinks, etc.  It was a fun stop!

These motor taxi’s were everywhere!

These are Limons…a cross between a lemon & lime.  Very popular here.

This is a common sight at the fruit stalls; removing the peel off the fruit with these giant knives & they do it very fast!

I don’t remember what this fruits name is, but we bought some & ate them the next day.  They sort of taste like grapefruit…but they aren’t.

:its of candy made for October 31st for the children.  These marshmallows were very popular; gummy skulls too.

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You’d see random altars around celebrating Hanal Pixan.

I have no idea…but it was pretty!

This is how the locals shop….more than going to grocery stores.  I only saw a grocery store one time while I was here…the markets is where the locals go.

Don’t ask my why, but Sherry loves the meat stalls in the markets.  I think they’re kind of gross.  Here were turkeys for sale!

Sherry wanted to try this traditional Mayan corn drink.  It tasted like liquid cornbread…most of us didn’t love it, but Sherry did!

Then we loaded up into the van & came up with another plan.  Raul was very flexible & gave us a couple of choices.  We knew we wanted to visit a Cenote & a famous Pyramid, we just had to decide in which order.  He made a couple of recommendations & a plan was made.

Raul told us he’d take us to a Cenote owned by the town…it was off the beaten path.  We ended up going a few miles down a dirt road, which was pretty fascinating.  This whole area’s base is limestone…it’s what the Pyramids were made of; the churches; buildings; homes; fences….it’s everywhere.  Including along the side of the roads with trees growing out the top!  But it was a great time to learn about this place & to ask questions.

We finally made it to the Cenote, paid our $3 entry fee in Pesos & found the changing area.

The bathroom below, isn’t spectacular.  But the thatched roof is typical of the Mayan homes built in the area.  This town of Abala has quite a few Mayan homes throughout this village.

The changing rooms.

Then we made our way to the Cenote…& it blew my mind!

Down, down, down a steep set of stairs & into the cave & magnificent crystal waters.

We were all amazed.  Only Bridget had been to Cenotes before.  I couldn’t believe I was going to get to swim in here!

Loved Loved Loved floating on my back & watching the reflection from the water dance on the ceiling!


Some more views of what would become my favorite new experience while visiting Mexico!



Me jumping off the platform!

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Swimming under the water.  I’m not too impressed with my new underwater camera, but this is one of it shots.


We all felt so lucky that for about 45 minutes, it was just us five in the water.  It was fantastic & I will never forget this experience!  After about an hour & few more people showed up, it was time to leave.  But it had been sooooo very magical!

We changed clothes & loaded up in the van.  Raul suggested we have lunch at the Temozon Hacienda…an old plantation.  He explained that 50 families owned all the plantations back in the day & they grew Henequen which comes from the Agave plant.  The word means deer tail because it was the color & texture of a deers tail  It was later known as Sisal fiber (read how the name came to be in Random) which made ropes & now mostly make the Mayan hammocks.  90% of all the Sisal used in the world came from this area.  It was called the “green-gold of the Yucatan”.  Now the Hacienda is still owned by the same family, but is managed by Marriot.  So of course, you can stay on the property.  We were just going to check it out & for lunch.

The church.  These Haciendas were similar to plantations we had in the states.  They were like small cities, having about a 1,000 workers….alot of them slaves, similar to what we did, sadly.  But, they had a medical clinic, school, etc.  There were some that lived in places on the Hacienda, but most of the workers lived in the nearby town.

The front of the building.

The beautiful front porch.

Sangria!

Yummy! A traditional Mayan dish made for the Day of the Dead is called Pibil.  Its pork cooked underground with local sour orange, wrapped in banana leaves & slow cooked.

It had been a big day already….but there was more…ALOT MORE in the plan!

Our next stop was Uxmal.  The second most visited ruin in Mexico.  I was speechless when I saw this…now it was this Pyramid that was the oldest thing I’d ever seen, dating back to around 800AD.  I just listened intently while Raul told us the Mayan history of the sacred place & the people that lived here.  How it was uncovered from the limestone rubble & jungle-like vegetation to discover this amazing ancient ruin.

The Mayan Pyramids in Yucatan are the only ones in the world to have rounded corners.

The wooden piece you see connecting the stone buildings are thought to be original from the gum tree dating to 400BC.

There are about 3,000 ancient ruins in the Yucatan.

A Rain God carving on the corner of the building.

The Owl & the Bat are to the Mayans what angels are to the Muslims & Christians today.  So, there were several carvings of the Bats & Owls.

These carvings in the ruins are fantastic.  On the longest one, the design mirrored itself from the middle to the end.  Such design & planning.

A larger version of the Rain God face…the door opening is it’s mouth.  We saw the ‘nice’ Rain God carvings multiple times & once the “mad’ version of the Rain God.  

This was part of the game field.  The Mayans would hit the ball with their hips through this ring; their version of ancient Quidditch I guess.  I asked Raul what the ball was made of & he said from the rubber plant.  Later in the tour he’d tell us they hadn’t discovered the wheel yet & all these stones were moved by man.  So, in other words, the ball was discovered before the wheel….incredible!

This made my jaw drop.  Raul casually mentioned to peek through the trees to another ruin…one that is not uncovered all the way.  This was all you could see through the thick vegetation, but Wow!  He said there are these all over the Yucatan, just waiting to be uncovered.  It felt like an “Indiana Jones” moment…but truly, so much more.  I was so amazed!

Another ruin that was uncovered.  Notice the vegetation growing up all around the sides which once also covered the top & front.

The view from the highest spot…the Rulers house was just behind us.  Raul said the Pyramids were the churches of the Mayans…they worshipped outside around the base.  The ruins they could climb have very, very steep steps…this was so you’d climb them with your head down as a sign of respect to the Gods.

Happy tourists!

The drive back was filled with questions & answers & stories…it was wonderful.  My mind was so filled with thoughts & pictures & wonderings.  What a wonderful tour Raul had given us.  He works for Tours By Locals…a company I’d definitely use again!

Once back at the Villa, everyone changed clothes & we walked to the Square for a nice dinner at a roof top restaurant.  Ben would be flying out tomorrow, so this was our last night with him. What a great guy!  So nice to meet & travel with him.

Our view for dinner.

A really yummy shrimp & pasta dish…really good.  

My 2nd drink was made with espresso…OMG sooooo good!

We all walked back through the lively town to the Villa; tired but filled with so much new knowledge, fun & wonderful experiences from today.

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