A tour of the city of Campeche is the agenda for today. Our bus arrived to transport us at 9 o'clock. We were trying to get laundry done but the guy drove off leaving us standing with dirty clothes in plastic bags......was it something we said? We left all the laundry in front of Hutch's coach and took bets on whether it would be gone when we returned.......it wasn't; it was still there when we got back. We'll try at the next place or just do it ourselves.
The first stop on our tour was at Fuerte de San Miguel. This is a colonial fortress and now home to the Archaeological Museum. The fort is in good condition and has a dry moat and working drawbridge. It's topped with several cannons and the views were quite spectacular.
The museum houses all kinds of great art objects including amazing pieces of jade jewelry, vases, masks, plates and other beautiful pieces. The jade burial masks from Calakmul are also on display. Other objects to be seen included old weapons and arrowheads, necklaces made from seashells, and clay figurines. There was a wooden contraption used by the Mayans to reform the heads of babies to give them the elongated forehead they considered a mark of great beauty. Physical beauty, apparently, was a very valued trait, enough to drive a parent to subject a child to this contraption.
We continued on to Campeche, a colonial city, and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The first thing that hit us was how clean and spruced up it was. The city is not terribly dependent on tourism and the cobbled-stone streets were swept clean. The economy is driven primarily by shrimping and offshore petroleum. Along the waterfront is a beautiful Malecon or boulevard. Our guide told us Campeche was once a Maya trading village called Ah Kin Pech.
Campeche is the capital of the state of the same name and was an attractive target for pirates in centuries past. After an attack in 1663, the Spanish authorities fortified the city with thick walls, turning it into a hexagonal stronghold surrounded by eight towers. Though the bastions still stand, the city walls have been replaced. We were told the stone from the walls was used to construct the streets. Most of the historic sites are contained in the old city, within the city walls.
The Parque Principal, or the main plaza, is the center of activity. Beside the plaza is the gorgeous Catedral de la Concepcion Immaculada. It seems these beautiful cathedrals are icons in every city and town in Mexico. Construction on this cathedral was begun in 1650 but it was not finished until two centuries later in 1850. The black and white marble floor is really dramatic and the altar is decorated with silver angels. A visit to this holy place had extra significance for us as it was Ash Wednesday.
Our guide showed us a scale model of the old city showing the Baluartes that surrounded the city.
We toured the 18th-century Centro Cultural Casa Numero 6. This house is furnished with lovely period pieces and we could just imagine how the city's high society lived back then.
We had a scrumptious lunch at Restaurant Marganzo situated just opposite the Puerta del Mar or the Sea Gate. There is also Puerta de Tierra or the Land Gate; the former city gate for visitors arriving to the city by land.
The Baluarte de San Juan was our last stop and we took some pictures of this fort perched high atop a hill. We were able to stop briefly at the monument dedicated to Juarez for a quick picture before we headed back to camp.
We had our first potluck dinner tonight. We have some good cooks and an amazing array of various foods was available.