Back to Cabarete and Sosua

February, 2017

It has been a while since I packed my bags. Nearly 4 months I stayed at home and that hasn’t happened for at least 10 years. This time my trip is a bit unexpected and a combination of business, holiday and meeting my son again after 11 months. He is flying in from Canada and I come from Europe and we will meet on the Northern shores of the Dominican Republic. A welcome distraction, as my “travelling ache” flares up and the adventure calls.dsc00186

Three years ago, I was last in Cabarete and although I didn’t miss it, it feels like coming home. I booked an all-inclusive in Sosua, as that was the best deal I could find. My son will stay with friends in Cabarete. Years ago, he lived there for 7 months and many of his friends return for the warm winter months, while Canada is covered with snow. Although I am used to the all-inclusive hotels, this one is huge and with 1500 people fully booked. The quiet room I requested is in the noisiest corridor. So glad I brought my earplugs and sleeping pills! I will need those during the coming two weeks! My experience is, that arriving people always tend to get drunk the first night. Probably, as they are so relieved to arrive safely? As this hotel is occupied by people from all over the world, there are everyday new tourists arriving, which means every day groups of drunken people…….I am mostly gone during the day, but I prefer to stay after dark in the hotel. I never had to speak so many different languages during those long evenings. It is tiring! I wished the wife of that french guy didn’t go to bed so early, so he would leave me alone, but for whatever reason he always finds me. French people don’t speak any other languages, so I have to take an extra “Cuba Libre”, as then my french is floating out of my mouth. To the staff I speak Spanish, of course English with the many Canadians and then I meet this nice German guy and suddenly my German needs refreshing with some more “Cuba Libre”. This they call a holiday??? I have the feeling that I am doing a Summer School!

I will see my son regularly during these two weeks. He spoils me on my birthday. I take a taxi from Sosua to Cabarete (never pay the price they ask!) and get my late morning Mojito (my favorite drink since I ever set foot in Cuba), on the beautiful beach of Cabarete. What a way to start the afternoon! Here you can sit with your feet in the sand and watch the waves and the first kite boarders in the sea.


My son has more surprises for the afternoon and at 4.00 p.m. he collects me from the spa resort, after massage, pedicure and manicure (wow, does that feel good!) and I have to climb on his “moto” to go to the next venue on the cliffs. I always promised myself never ever to sit on a motorcycle again (after an accident), but this is the third time I don’t keep my promise. Very relieved we reach our destination safely!


Another surprise is the fabulous view from an upscale resort, where we have some more drinks and tasteful appetizers with some other friends of my son. After, we walk to a simple, but favorite food place, where the Spanish owner makes the best paella. What a great way to end my birthday.


Sosua by night is something I try to avoid, unless you are in a group and in need of a change from the food the hotel offers. Plenty of restaurants and bars outside the resort, but also plenty of very young prostitutes with mainly older guys. During the day a nice little town with a small beach full of shacks, where you can buy all kinds of paintings, ceramics and clothes. During the night, the beach closes and downtown comes alive…..not my choice……


The two weeks are flying away, due to some business I have to attend. I am running around in between Sosua and Cabarete and have to admit that I prefer Cabarete by far above Sosua. I even get to go to Puerto Plata, which is transforming into quite a nice city, since a cruise ship terminal is built here. On one side renovations are still in place and on the other side neat streets and squares are welcoming the visitors.


A friend of my son arranges a beach day. A special tourist bus is booked and we are a mixture of all kinds of nationalities and age groups. Our destination of the day is Playa Caleton at Rio San Juan. A nice secluded beach, great for swimming, relaxing and having fresh fish for lunch, served right on the beach! There are plenty of beaches, going in Southern direction, some of them very quiet and giving you the “Bounty island feeling”. Many years ago, I visited a few of those. Today is for sure a lazy day and our fun attraction is watching two dogs trying to catch a drone!


My last weekend is a long holiday weekend for the Dominican people, as Monday is Independence Day. I spend most of the day with my son and later we stroll over the very busy beach of Cabarete. Kiteboarders are taking advantage of the wind and tourists are soaking up the warm weather. I am not ready to go home and enjoy for a couple of hours the music of a Dominican band with mostly Merengue and Bachata music. I get to dance with a guy, who dances really well, but is also a little bit off……


Time to say goodbye, also from the french guy, who now has to find another victim for the evening. On the last morning, the parades for Independence day are passing our hotel in Sosua, while at the same moment rain starts pouring. I take my last pictures and prepare for a long flight.



My last pictures and impressions of San Cristobal and surroundings…

25th of August, 2015

Tonight I will leave around 18.20 with the night bus back to Merida in one go. So today is another day of just strolling around, taking some last pictures and buying some last souvenirs. I arranged a late check out of my hotel and I start with a good breakfast in very small eatery on the main shopping street of the town. It is a pretty cold day and I am glad I bought a warm lambs wool sweater on the market yesterday and some winter trousers. The bus also will be cold, as they like to put the air conditioning on high!DSC01324DSC01326

Today I also go for a long hike into the back streets of the town and I realize that three days is not enough to explore this beautiful city. I am happy to be here in this time of the year, as in the winter the temperatures can drop until below the 5 degrees. Mexico is such an enormous country, with many different climates and often people don’t realize, that these mountain villages can be very cold! When flying into Mexico City, 5 weeks ago, I even could see snow on the mountains!DSC01295

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I leave San Cristobal with the hope I might be back one day, but then by plane! Or, from another route by car or bus. I prepared myself for the long bus trip with an extra scarf I bought on the market, thick socks, drinks and some food, earplugs and sleeping pills and above all……Gravol. I take one tablet an hour before getting on the bus. Until Ocosingo all is well. I have two places for myself and it is still light and I get distraction from outside. Then the movie starts; very loud and very violent!  After two hours we reach Ocosingo, the only stop before Palenque. It is dark by now and more people are getting on board of the bus. The lady before me is not happy and neither am I, as a very old and sick man is going to sit beside her. He probably has to go to the hospital in Palenque and has the most awful cough I ever heard in my life. I get a guy beside me; too bad. The chauffeur puts the second movie on; more violent than the first one and even louder…… The guy before me coughs more and the lady beside him starts eating. I smell chicken and other ingredients. The road is very curvy now and it is so dark that I can’t see a thing on the road. I get sick, very sick. So happy the guy besides me sleeps, or pretends to sleep. I was prepared for this, as I am not good in buses on curvy roads. For two hours I am sick and then we reach Palenque. I feel relieved, as I know that after Palenque the road will be straight. Maybe some street bumps, but better than curves! I have 5 min. to freshen up in Palenque bus station and then we continue our trip to Campeche, the next stop. The sick guy is gone and I am still there. The movies are finished and it is sleeping time. That’s when the lady at the front decides to stop eating, but to start talking, with the neighbour on the other side. It is 2.00 a.m. At 3.00 I ask them, if they are willing to shut up? No, they aren’t. They continue until 4.00! We reach Campeche and I finally have the two seats for myself again and after the two Gravol pills from before and half a sleeping pill now, I finally fall asleep until 6.00 a.m.

By the time we enter Merida, it is already 8.00. I walk to the mini bus in the historical district and get home around 9.30.

Never again!!! Next time, I take the plane and pay $400 more!!!

The last few days I take it very easy. I only go one more time back to the city, to buy an extra bag for all the souvenirs I bought and the rest of the time I work on my blog and read.

On Saturday, I take the pre-arranged airport bus to Cancun, which is a straight road, and get into a crazy busy airport, where lots of construction is going on. My flight to Toronto is going on time. I will stay for two nights in a hotel at Toronto airport and then I will take the plane to Calgary, for my next house sit of one month in the town of Canmore in the Rocky Mountains. I am really looking forward to this house sit, as I have been in this beautiful area before and because my son is living in Banff, the next town!

Wandering around San Cristobal, Chiapa de Corzo and boating the Sumidero Canyon

23rd until 25th of August

On Sunday I take it easy and just wander around the streets of San Cristobal. Not only the many churches are attended well, but also the colourful artisan market places. DSC01321DSC01301


I can’t resist to buy some souvenirs and of course after quite some negotiating about the price, as they all start way too high. It is not allowed here to take pictures of the people and even when I asked a lady, from whom I bought some textiles, if I could take a picture of her baby daughter, the answer was “Oh No”. When I asked her why not, she told me that her daughter was not able to sleep, after a picture was taken…..DSC01467DSC01315

All the children here are adorable and especially when they are wearing those beautiful, colourful indigenous costumes. I have never seen so many babies at one place, as on the market in San Cristobal. The mothers have them in wrap carriers at the front, or back or side and it is perfectly normal to breast feed them, while selling their ware. Of course there are dozens of other little children running around on the market place.DSC01272

Outside the market, people are selling plastic bowls with all kind of tasty pieces of fruits for 10 pesos and halfway the morning I buy one and it is so very fresh and delicious!DSC01287


To escape the heat and have some quiet time, I visit the textile museum in the Na bolom Cultural Centre, beside the church and the artisan market, and I am surprised how interesting the displays are; even more than 100 drawers to open and every drawer showcases another indigenous weaving of the Chiapas district and even beyond. Very well-organized and beautiful displayed!      DSC01276                                                              DSC01281DSC01282

In the afternoon, I book a boat trip for the next day at a tour operator. All the other trips they are offering, consist of long distances in the bus and that is something I want to avoid!

San Cristobal is full of small eateries and it is fun to sit on the small patios and watch the people, as it is such a mix of cultures!DSC01304DSC01303

The next morning, a minibus full with tourists is collecting me from the hotel and I squeeze beside a big Mexican guy and the window all in the back of the bus. We drive over a nice highway through the mountains direction Chiapa de Corzo. It is an hour by bus and more than enough for me. Once there, we all get a bracelet and hop on a small and fast open boat, which speeds over the Grijalva river, situated in between Tuxtla Guitierrez and Chiapa de Corzo.

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It brings you right into Surmidero National Park, where you can see crocodiles on the banks of the river and pelicans and even monkeys, if you are lucky! The walls of the Canyon are at some point more than 900 meters high, very impressive! The whole tour takes about 2 hours and on the moments we are laying still to watch a waterfall or a crocodile, you notice how hot it is; sunscreen is very necessary here!DSC01415DSC01382

Once back in Chiapa de Corzo, we get some time to wander around the town, but everybody is “overheated” of the boat trip and I decide to have a drink and something to eat in one of the little stalls beside the road. The hamburgers look fresh and they put them long enough on the barbecue to give it a try……DSC01312


We arrive much later back in San Cristobal and after a shower and an early meal in a Catalunian eatery, I decide to have an early night. My bus trip of 14 hours back to Merida will start the next evening, so I need some extra sleep now.DSC01471

A Fairy Tale; Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico

The 20th of August, 2015  

After reviewing the information I got from the lady at the bus station, regarding the time-table for my connections, I returned on the 19th downtown, to book the tickets for my trip from the 20th until the 25th of August. I wasn’t really looking forward to this long bus ride, especially not the one back home; 14 hours in the evening/night bus from San Cristobal to Merida straight!  I did check the flights from Merida to Tuxtla Gutierrez, the airport closest to San Cristobal, but prices were around 300 to 400 US, so out of the question.  For the bus ride from Merida to Palenque one way, leaving at 22.00 p.m. I had to pay 568 pesos (a rough 35 USD). I also booked the bus ride from Palenque to San Cristobal for the 22nd at 9.45 for 206 pesos. Last trip I had to book was the bus ride from San Cristobal back to Merida on the 25th in the late afternoon, for  around 750 pesos. After all this was done, I had to start packing. Camera and computer and clothes for very hot weather (Palenque) and for “in between” weather and even cold in the evening (San Cristobal). Well, I didn’t bring any winter clothes or boots for my trips to Costa Rica and Mexico, so I did have a small problem there.  The taxi picked me up to bring me to the “night” bus and I had for all trips reserved places, as I am not good in the back of the bus (nor at the front, but this is where the Gravol comes in handy).  My trip to Palenque wasn’t that bad. I got some sleeping pills from the nice pharmacist in Merida and the bus made a stop every 2 hours at a decent place, where there was a decent washroom available; very important, as the ones on the buses make me even more “seasick”.  The last part of the trip was through a lot of villages and that means “speed bumps” in Mexico, after every so many meters, so impossible to sleep………Once arrived in Palenque it was daylight and I was so happy be outside again, that I avoided all the taxis and walked to the hotel. It was easy, as Palenque is not a big city.DSC01118

My hotel room was “interesting” and clean and everything was there and of course I was glad to have my earplugs handy. After a shower and a quick nap, I went looking for a place to have breakfast. Within a few minutes walking, I found a nice, open eatery, where I asked for a normal breakfast and then I got this enormous plate with eggs, thin tortillas and sauces at the side and somewhere a bowl with fresh fruits, coffee and freshly pressed juice with way too much added sugar! I couldn’t eat more than half of it and they asked me, if it was not tasty enough!DSC01123

Mexicans like their food and they can eat! By now it was already around 11.00 and I had to go to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, which are situated in an enormous Natural Park, mainly covered by jungle. Around 10% of the old city is revealed; the remains are still uncovered and are overtaken by the jungle.

In Palenque there are mini vans, which are going back and forwards to the park. They stop by the entrance and you first pay around 30 pesos for entering the park. After, you have to pay the officially fee for visiting the ruins, which is around 65 pesos. Many people are offering their knowledge as guides, by the entrance of the park, even boys no older than 8! I never make use of them, as I need my time for taking pictures and these people are most of the time in a hurry……DSC01146


It is a great area to wander around the archeological sites, or hike into the jungle and enjoy the beauty of the nature and listen to the howler monkeys. The setting is totally different in comparison with Chichen Itza;  far more impressive. Also fewer vendors than Chichen Itza.  The structure of the buildings is different too. If all the ruins would be discovered from beneath the jungle grounds, it will show what an impressive city this site must have been.   DSC01173DSC01150


After a short visit to the museum on site, I call it a day and head back to the city by minibus, have a shower and walk around Palenque, where every night an open air market is held and many other vendors occupy the pavements. By now I am extremely tired and find a quiet spot in a restaurant. Tomorrow, another bus drive of 5 hours and I need a good night sleep! The next morning I have time for breakfast, a bit computer work and some quick souvenir shopping. I left a tip in the room for the cleaning lady, but the clever receptionist goes first to “check” the room, after the clients return the key. That way she can cash the tip!!! Though seemingly it is necessary to check if everything is still there, as I witnessed that a businessman had to open his computer bag, where one of the small bathroom towels was hidden. Yes, it is hot in Palenque and we all need a towel now and then……….

Half an hour behind on schedule, we leave Palenque for San Cristobal. While driving away, the bus driver first had to make the sign of the cross and later I understood why…… soon as we left Palenque, the road goes high into the mountain and gets very, very curvy!DSC01211DSC01216 First though, we had to return to the busstation, as they forgot two passengers, who were in the bathroom. Then after a few km. the chauffeur realized that he lost the keys of the luggage storage. While driving, he started looking all over in the front of the bus and managed to find them. I was sitting on the front row at the other side and witnessed his face expressions. This was only the start of the journey! He also managed to eat a sandwich, have a coffee and check the passengers list, while driving through the mountains. The road is the main road to San Cristobal, but nothing like a highway. It is just wide enough for the buses to pass each other.


I must confess that our driver was very competent! I even tipped him at the end, which is not common here, but he appreciated it. I had taken a Gravol and tried to make pictures during the trip, which distracted me from getting sick and there was so much to see on the way, that it took all my attention. We passed a lot of villages, where Mayan people were dressed in colourful outfits and everywhere they had different costumes; different patterns and different colours.DSC01242

A lot of poverty, many houses reminded me of Cuba. Children were washed in wooden feeders of the animals and women were doing the laundry on old fashioned washboards. It was a very interesting trip, but also very long. We made one stop for petrol (all the curtains had to be closed; why, I still don’t know) and another, where you could quickly get a drink or some food.DSC01198

Once we arrived on the highway, it was a quick drive to the beautiful mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas. A short taxi drive of 10 minutes brought me to the Parador Margarita, a quiet hotel with spacious, rustic rooms and a nice courtyard. Very centrally located, but just out of the noisy area of downtown and above all, the bells of the Cathedral and all other churches. From the 2nd floor you have a great view over the mountains and part of the town.

DSC01252DSC01250After getting settled in my hotel room, I walk the short distance over the cobbled streets towards the old historical center of San Cristobal and I enter another fairy tale; cozy streets with small patio’s, filled with people from all places of the world. Musicians playing all kinds of instruments, indigenous women with the babies on their back wandering the streets, “retired” hippies from different foreign countries mixing with the locals and of course the homeless and disabled……..Everybody seems to get along with each other fine.

In front of the huge Cathedral are many indigenous people selling colourful blankets and sweaters, scarves and mittens, as it can be cold in the evening here in San Cristobal. I find a cozy eatery, with the name “La Surreal” on Real de Guadaloupe, where they serve big glasses of nice red wine and tasty sandwiches. I now realize how hungry I am.  My last meal was breakfast and it is by now 8.00 p.m.  I sit inside, as the temperature has dropped to around 15 degrees C. and after the heat of Palenque, it is quite a change. I realize I have to buy some warm clothes on the market, as soon as possible!  Once back in the hotel, I enjoy my quiet room with the king size bed and I look forward to another day of exploring this vibrant city.

Chichen Itza; mouth of the well of the enchanted waters (or the water witch…)

18th of August, 2015

Going to Chichen Itza means preparing yourself for a long (and hot) day. Especially, when going by local bus. My stay in Merida was extended with two weeks, so I thought I had all the time of the world for more sightseeing around Merida, though my plans changed. Since the homeowners of my “housesit” arrived back and I was able to rent “my” casita for another two weeks, I suddenly got the freedom to travel even further than the surroundings of Merida. My son, who just came back from a trip to Central America, advised me to go and see also Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas. According to him it was well worth it. While investigating the map, I noticed how far those places were situated from Merida. I gave myself some time to consider the pros and cons, but finally the “adventurous part” of my brain told me to go. That meant, I had to start organizing my trip very quickly and I also couldn’t delay seeing one of the Seven Marvels Of The Modern World, Chichen Itza.DSC01083


So on Tuesday, the 18th, I went early downtown and walked to the CAME bus station to hop on a first class bus to Chichen Itza. No luck, as the bus was fully booked. There was another chance to go 45 min. later, at 9.15, with a minibus for 120 pesos (7 US$). For the way back I only could go with a local bus (80 pesos, not even 5US$). Well, there was no other choice. While waiting in the first class bus station, which is around the corner from the second class bus station, I thought I better get some information about the bus trip to Palenque and San Cristobal, as those buses are also first class. A very nice and helpful lady took plenty of time to check with me the possibilities and connections from one place to the other, as my schedule had to be thoroughly planned. She wrote everything down, as I needed some time to think about it. It was time for boarding and the drive to Chichen Itza went pretty quick, via the same boring road, as when I went to Izamal. After around 1 hour and 45 min. we arrived at the entrance of Chichen Itza.DSC01092

What a tremendous busy place! So many people and so many vendors. After paying the 220 pesos entrance fee, you have to follow the crowd along an alley of vendors and it never ends. They are everywhere. What a pity, that such a beautiful site, with so many impressive temples, pyramids, platforms and columns, is partly destroyed by the screaming colours of all the articles for sale.DSC01054DSC01038

Mind you, I love many Mexican products (and even bought quite a few) and I also understand that in a place like this you get a lot of customers; only there should be a limitation in vendor stalls and places. Dzibilchaltun is way less impressive than this old Mayan city, but walking there all on my own, with only the sound of birds, was more enjoyable for me. Still, I managed to escape now and then the hundreds of tourists and walk on my own in between the pyramids and platforms, with their variety of architectural styles, which finds its origin in the diversity of the population.DSC01109DSC01073

Chichen Itza was a pre-Columbian city. It was also one of the largest Mayan cities. Apart from the monuments, there are also two large natural sinkholes (cenotes). What I really loved about Chichen Itza is the variety of details on the monuments. I could take pictures forever; so beautiful!DSC01068

Besides the ruins, I observed this beautiful bird: the blue crowned motmot. I also saw a very small owl, on a low branch and it was looking me straight in the face. I just focused my camera and at that moment a group of Italian tourists passed by and then it turned its back on me!DSC01085DSC01042

I had to take the local bus back at 3.20 p.m. and it finally arrived at 3.45 and then a very long drive back started. It took about 3 hours to go back to Merida, as the bus stopped in every village along the way. The only good thing was that vendors with food hopped on the bus to sell their goodies and they were dropped off in the next village. We even got a guitar player on the bus, who was singing the most beautiful love songs with an even more beautiful voice!!! Also he got off in the next village, but first he cashed quite some money, as the Mexicans are very giving……..

It was a long and hot day again, but well worth it.

Izamal, sacred city of the Maya in Yucatan

16th of August, 2015

For most of my trips in and around Merida, I took the local bus. There are four different main bus stations in Merida and it all depends which direction you go. Sometimes you can choose between a first class or second class bus and those bus stations are also different, but often close to each other situated. So it is a little bit a puzzle to find out the right station, the time schedule and if you have to buy your ticket a few days in advance or just the day of travelling.

To go to Izamal, I left with the bus from the main station Orient at 8.30. It was a drive of around one and half hour and the road was pretty boring, as Yucatan is flat and dry and the only distraction was a stop in the village of Hoctun.DSC00971

Once in Izamal, the San Antonio de Padua church and convent is immediately towering in front of you, with its specific colour of golden-yellow, also the colour of most of the houses in Izamal. The altar piece in the church is of carved wood and gold leaf overlay and dedicated to the Virgin of Izamal, patron Saint of Yucatan. Pope John Paul II chose this church to hold the Meeting of America’s Ethnicities, because of it’s profound indigenous-Spanish symbolism.

Izamal is a mixture of Spanish Yucatan, Mayan Yucatan and today’s Yucatan. It is also one of Mexico’s “pueblos magicos”……

There are three pyramids and Kinich-Kak-Moo is one of them (house of the sun). I climbed part of it, but with my fear of heights, it was just too much. The pyramid is around 22 mtrs. high! To go up is not the problem, but how to go down, when there is nobody to hold on to? Although???DSC00990DSC00988

Apart from that, the heat was intolerable; I kept on walking until around 2.00 p.m. and by that time I nearly fainted. I quickly entered the museum, in the hope it had air conditioning, but nothing, not even a washroom! I did get the opportunity to take some nice pictures.


The Papholchac is the other pyramid and the base of the church and convent. The third one is Itzamatul, also 22 mtrs. high.

Sunday was a perfect day to visit, as the bus arrived just before the Sunday church service started and outside on the Plaza, as well as inside in the market hall, lots of vendors were selling all kinds of stuff.DSC01018



Around 3.00 p.m. I took the bus back to Merida and by the time we arrived in town, it started pouring. Orient station is on the worst spot in town, regarding water drainage. I had to wait for another hour before I could walk to the center of Merida and hop on the bus home. The water was just too high! Finally, most of us just went into the water, which was almost knee high and I had to ask the road three times, as I couldn’t recognize the streets anymore!


Today was another adventure in Mexico!

Running around in Merida

The 7th, 9th and 10th of August 2015

Nearly every evening during the summer months, there are performances in the parks around the old centre in Merida. Sometimes a band is playing and people are challenging the heat by showing off their best performance. Another evening, in another park, dances are performed by different groups in costume, from different regions.DSC00955DSC00953

Trovadores (troubadours) are performing in another park on another evening. Friday evening is set for the Pok A Tok, in front of the Cathedral. This was a sacred ball game from the Mayan people and it started with a ritual performance. The teams were not allowed to touch the ball, only with their hips or chest etc. and the ball had to be thrown through a ring, which was so difficult , that one game could take days. It was attended by important people (chiefs and kings) and the captain of the team that lost, was often beheaded.DSC00756


On the 9th, I went to “The Great Mayan World Museum”, which is situated in a new and modern building in Northern Merida. I was a little bit confused, which bus I had to take. From where I am staying, you just walk to the main road and hop on a local bus, which is going up-North, but not all the buses are stopping at the museum. The best thing is to take a bus to Grand Plaza (a shopping mall) and walk the last few meters, though there are two buses, which will stop very close to the museum and a friendly lady, who was waiting at the same spot where I was standing, informed me about that. People are all very helpful here and I needed them, on the many occasions that I got lost.

The museum is divided in two departments, one is scientific and art related (a lot about the “birth” of Yucatan, astronomy, meteors and dinosaurs) and the other is the Mayan department. It tells you about the way of living of the Mayan people in former times and nowadays. A very interesting and interactive museum. To see all it has to offer, you can easily spend aDSC00804couple of hours in the lovely air-conditioned rooms.

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On Monday the 10th, I took the local bus to Dzibilchaltun, a place North of Merida, where you can find many Mayan buildings, among them “The Temple Of The Seven Dolls”, named so, as they found 7 dolls inside its chamber. Dzibilchaltun means in Mayan language “The Place of Scriptures on Flat Stones. To find out, how to go to Dzibilchaltun, was an excursion itself. On one of my walks, I found a tourist information kiosk with a huge poster on the window, informing that there are now special buses straight to this place for 150 pesos, return ticket. The guy inside told me I could get the ticket at Park St. Lucia and the bus went three times a week. So next day I went downtown to buy the ticket. When I finally found the tour operator, they told me that due to the low season, those buses don’t go, but I better should ask the main tourist office on the Plaza Grande. There, they told me to go to Park St. Lucia! Oh well, I was there already? Then I better should go to the local bus station from Progreso and get a ticket to Chablecal and then go with a mototaxi to Dzibilchaltun. I thought I better go and investigate where the bus station was situated. It was easy to find and just a short walk from the Grand Plaza. Once there, a sign said “daily buses to Dzibilchaltun, except Sundays”!!! So, I went back with this information to the tourist office and they were very grateful to get this information, as many tourists had asked about this trip……..Why I, as a tourist, had to inform DSC00875them about the bus schedule to a famous tourist attraction????

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So on the morning of the 10th, I got up at 5.45 and packed a bag with my camera, water, a hat and sunglasses.  At 6.30 I got immediately the bus into town and walked to the bus station, where I had to stand in line for the bus. The ticket had to be bought in the bus and gosh, I was happy to be on time, as it became packed! I paid the amount of 14 pesos for a one way (better than the 150 pesos!!!) and asked the chauffeur to let me know where to get off. I noticed that often people shout “baja”, which means “getting off”. The ruins are only around 20 km from Merida, but as the bus stops every 5 min. to load or unload people, the trip took about an hour! Once arrived, I had to walk another 15 minutes from the main street to the entrance of the park. I was the first visitor of the day and the park just opened! They also allowed me to bring in my shopping bag, while everywhere it says that no bags are allowed, only swimming gear, in case you want to swim in the Cenote (underwater sinkhole). In Dzibilchaltun, you walk into another world……. Very pretty and interesting and wonderful to be the only visitor for at least one hour! Lots of birds singing and many iguanas.  The heat was getting unbearable and that was another reason I was pleased to be so early. I didn’t go for a swim, but watched the only other 2 guests having a dip.DSC00853

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The cenote “Xlakah”, which means “Old Town”, has been the center of religious rites and also provided water to the settlement. The only disappointment was, that the museum was closed on Mondays! That wasn’t mentioned in the Yucatan Magazine. Supposingly, the museum here is very interesting. So by 10.30 I was completely steaming of the heat and I walked the long road to the main street again, this time using my umbrella against the sun. Once on the main road, there was immediately a moto taxi, which is a type of bike with a motor and a seating place at the front. He dropped me off at Chablecal, where I was so lucky to find a bus to Merida in a few minutes time and the bus dropped me off  on the Avenida 60, very close to my casita. Within two hours it started pouring, with severe thunder! So glad I got up early today!

Three in one; a very cultural day in Merida!

The 4th of August, 2015

Today, the Cultural Centre Olimpo is open and I start with a visit to one of the three exhibition places. Portraits of Mozes, Ghandi and Mother Theresa…..Another room with paintings, which were not my style. The third room was just fun. The way different “artists”, if you want to call them artists, made their garden into a special living place, with lots going on and using all kind of colours and materials. In their section, enormous pictures of the artists, working in their own place. In the midst of the different displays, a hairdresser, who is cutting your hair for 3 US$, while he is singing the Italian songs he plays on his exhibition stand. It was just a very crazy showcase, this room, but for sure the three guys, who were “on guard” had fun! According to one, especially while interacting with the public……..DSC00655

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From Olimpo, it is just a few meters walking to the Palacio del Gobierno (governments building), where I had already a short visit during my first day here in Merida, but this time I wanted to spend some more time learning about the history from Yucatan and the Mayan people, all expressed in the beautiful murals of Fernando Castro Pacheco, who is from Merida. We saw his work already in the Municipality Museum, but here his work is on every floor of the building present and tells you so much about the suffering of the people, their religion and their legends (the birth of man, is through a stalk of corn). Besides the impressive murals, there is this soft green coloured building with many arches and enormous red ceramic pots filled with palm trees. What a gorgeous setting! DSC00502


From the Palacio del Gobierno, I walk via Parque St. Lucia and Parque St. Ana to the Paseo de Montejo.  Opposite park St. Ana, I find a very small and simple eatery, called “Jardin Santana”, where I have a pollo “Yucatan”, a water and a beer, all for 70 pesos ($4.20). I even get taco’s with avocado, as appetizer. Very nice staff and an “interesting” bathroom.

The Paseo de Montejo is called by some “the Champs Elysees of Yucatan”. It is a wide avenue, with pavements covered by trees. On every intersection there are statues and further up the Paseo you will find the impressive “Monumento a la Patria”. The houses along the Paseo are beautiful historical buildings from Spanish and French architecture. Mostly owned by banking firms or turned into hotels, others are in state of demolish and often for sale.DSC00722DSC00710DSC00709

Once walking up the Paseo, I decide to just continue my walk and see if I can make it home by feet. As long as you have water with you and don’t do these kind of things in the middle of the day, it is a nice “hike”. I will do this more often!