Muna, Tikul, Santa Elena and surrounding towns:
On the way to Tikul I stopped in Muna to buy a coke. Thank the Universe for the wide spread of Coke-Cola and Pepsi in Mexico. Every corner store, or stand on the street had cokes and they were cold. I wandered across the street, as there was activity in the Mercado. (A farmers market). The first room had ladies selling vegetables and fruit, spices and ground corn masa for tortillas. The second room had butcher tables with meat vendors. They had beef, pork, chickens, all with the feet and heads attached, or cut off and hanging on hooks above the carving bench. What a sight. Can't wait until I can get the pictures up. They had meat everywhere. It was kind of smelly, had flies and dogs licking up the scraps off the floor. That was my first experience with this kind of market and even though it surprised me with the open air and no protective covering, at least it was fresh and not pumped full of preservatives. I wanted to bring Manny some veggies as a present so I made some purchases and wandered out to the exterior of the market building where other merchants were selling hats, toys, baskets only to name a few goods they had. There were bicycle taxis everywhere. I thought them unique until I kept finding them in every town. I found them mostly the central Yucatan rural areas, but some times in other places. It was only in the big cities that the regular taxis replaced them.
I arrived in Tikul about noon and met Manny the Mayan man who is going to guide me through this area. I told him what I was looking for in the ancient sites and what areas I wanted to cover in the week I would be staying with Kris and Santiago at the Flycatcher Inn in Santa Elena. He gave me the tour the local towns around Tikul to start. He showed me the church in Mani where the friars burned all the Mayan books in the 1500's. He took me to another town of Mama and we met a wonderful Mayan lady Mrs. Lupita. She fixed us chicken cooked in sour orange juice with a plate of macaroni on the side. It was lovely. The sauce was so different, but made the chicken very delightful. She showed us one of the 106 cenotes in town. She knows where 60 are located. A cenote is a hole in the limestone where water runs through the underground rivers and comes to the surface. This is the only way the Yucatan people had water storage as the rain was sparse and the demand for water was more than the rain could supply. As we were leaving the town of Mama I spotted the graveyard. It had crypts that were so well taken care of I couldn't resist a picture of the freshly painted exteriors. There was also an arch to welcome you to the town. After seeing many arches on my trip, it seems to me that the arch has been a welcome gate for thousands of years. I would continue to see them at various ancient sites and old rural villages.
We continued to the town of Chumayel where Manny introduced me to a family that wove hammocks. They were gorgeous. Soft and tightly woven in beautiful colors. When I was shown how the grandmother stood on the hard tile floor all day weaving, that touched me to the core. I could see her work was really exquisite and bought one. You don't want to know how much. (OK, it was 90.00 US dollars.) I am going to have to sleep in it a lot to get my moneys worth.
On our way through another town we came across the two men doing the shaving routine. That was pretty funny and I couldn't resist taking a picture out of the car window. Just a little further down the street was the house painted in stenciled corn ears. We stopped and talked to the people that owned it. They were very gracious and showed us the inside. The front area was the open porch with tiled floors and hooks for hammocks on the walls. On one side was the shrine to the infant Jesus. I could see into the house and the furniture was wooden and sparse. It showed very simple living, but very clean and charming. This is what a job in the US brings when you work there at basic day labor and you save your money and bring it home to take care of your family. Without Manny to translate for me I would have never had the opportunity to experience these little everyday things. It was wonderful.
We went on to Santa Elena and I checked into the Flycatcher Inn. What a wonderful oasis they have built in their small acreage in the village. Lots of hard work and dedication had paid off in beautiful trees, gardens, a wonderful spacious house and guest bedrooms. Kris and Santiago are very well versed in the local sites and had many tips and suggestions on where to go and what to see. Kris was to tell me that before they were a bed and breakfast they had bought a water purifying outfit for themselves and soon were suppliers of fresh bottled water to a good deal of the area around Santa Elena. When they found out the government was going to do that country wide they sold their equipment to them and decided to turn the pump rooms into guest quarters. Now they have a flourishing business serving visitors to that area with lovely rooms, great showers and breakfast of fruit and rolls.
More later, Gay