Leaving Santa Elena for Edzna and Campeche: Dec 5
Early this morning I took a couple of pictures of my host and hostess, Kris and Santiago of the Flycatcher Inn sitting on their porch. Kris is from Oregon and visited Mexico many times in the past, as she was interested in the ancient sites. She met Santiago at one of the hotels she stayed. They each had the desire to learn each other's language, so they taught each other. Somehow a romance developed and they were married. Even after running several businesses and 14 years of being together they look content and happy. I asked if he had a brother as nice that was single. No luck. Santiago also makes wrought iron furniture and gates. One of the things that happened at breakfast each morning at Flycatcher was to meet the other guests that had arrived. There were several different ones each day and the last day I met the young newlywed Austrian couple Oliver and Jasmine. They were going the same way as I was and I suggested they check on the possibility of staying at Rio Bec Dreams in Xpujil, as that was where I was heading after a night in Campeche. To say the least I had to spend my last night in Santa Elena with 3 weddings going on in the village and as in Mexico City they partied all night. My final send off was with puffy sleepy eyes and a long way to drive. I really enjoyed my stay in Santa Elena for the week and hated to leave such a lovely setting. But as all good things must come to a close, today I am driving to Edzna, an ancient site close to Campeche.
I bid my host and Hostess farewell and made a stop in Tikul to say good-bye to my guide and good friend Manny Morales. He was waiting for me in the plaza square. I spent a few minutes taking pictures of the amazing statutes and the end of each street. The streets were divided and they stood as sentinels at the end of each median. They were all around the plaza. The town did a good job erecting them, making Tikul very unique in design. I took a picture of the church, but all the churches in the area looked the same. They were all built with the same architecture, big, bold and austere. Enough bulk to make it the most imposing building in each town. Not to say how it affected the local population in the 1600's to call them to worship. The town of Santa Elena had one sitting on a hill giving an excellent view of the town below. It stuck up above the tree line and before you even arrived into town you could see it. One of the things Kris told me was about discoveries of tombs that were made under the floor of the church. They were children wrapped in cloth. It was determined they were children of German people that had started to homestead and farm in the early 1800's.
Manny took me to the market and I bought a few things to munch on for lunch. Including the chicken. (And the one for the guards at the check point.) I bought the medicine Senor Ek suggested and purchased more batteries for the camera. I sure was glad to have Manny's help with the translation. We were in and out of the shops in jig time. It was a tearful good-bye between Manny and I. I had depended on him to guide me through the underbrush and translate everything for me. We laughed a lot and compared life in Mexico to life in the US. I taught him some regular English as his was formal and came from school learning. He is an amazing man, striving to better his community and teach English to the children in his town. Manny took me by to see Senor Ek at his house as he said Senor Ek had something to give me. He gave me a whole bag of the little pods to make the tea with to cure cholesterol. Senor Ek is such a sweet man and even at 79 had a twinkle in his eye and a zest for living.
After I left Tikul and went through the checkpoint, giving the guards their lunch, (chuckle, chuckle) I drove on down the highway and through the gateway arch on my way to Campeche. When I passed through the town of Hopelchen I saw the lady with the corn on her head. She used no hands to hold up the pan. Great shot. Several times on the way I passed runners and bicyclers that were running for Our Lady of Guadalupe. I also passed trucks loaded with farm workers that were being driven by Mennonite farmers. There were many of them. It seems the Mennonite farmers organized the local men to work on there farms. They looked strange being the only white skinned men in the crowd. Mennonite farming families homesteaded the whole area around the Edzna. They were invited to homestead by the Mexican government and were brought from Europe in the 1800's.
I arrived at the site of Edzna about 2 p.m. I had plenty to time to look around. Wow, if Uxmal was big, Edzna was as big. Maybe not taller, but it had as many buildings even though they were laid out differently. When you see the pictures of the Edzna pyramid it is hard to tell that it is sitting on a really high platformed plaza. I climbed to the top and took a picture of the vista. Hard to believe the view was so wonderful and I had been able to share it with the kings of the past.
On the way out of the site I encountered a family of Mennonites. They were visiting the site. I thought that strange they would be interested in the ancient Mayan history. I was able to get a close up look at the family group. They were dressed in bib overhauls and the women all wore flowered dresses. The kids were barefoot and came in various colored hues. The men were very white and some of the women were Mayan, some looked German in culture, short and chubby. I spoke to one man and found he only spoke Spanish.
I left it at that and continued my journey in time to arrive in Campeche by 5pm. I checked into the Pirate hostel and looked for an Internet that was open. Only one, and each of his machines kicked me off the Internet. I gave up and walked around the plaza. I wandered around looking at each of the stands where the local women were serving cakes and deserts. Each one had their own cart with each of them serving much of the same style baked goods. I looked closely at each stand but in the end never bought anything. I was told the Chamber of Commerce promotes this event to acquaint visitors with the local cuisine. Besides it was the Christmas season and they were featuring fancy deserts. The band in the plaza was getting ready to play some music so I walked around the square to get a look at what was going on. I heard someone holler at me, surprised, I turned around to find the couple from Austria that I met at Santa Elena when I was there. They had just arrived that afternoon. We talked for a while then sat on the park benches waiting for the music to start. Soon it started to sprinkle so we just bid each other good night and I walked up the street to my hostel hotel. I would be seeing them again as they, too, were headed to Rio Bec Dreams in a couple of days.
The next morning I tried the Internet again and had better luck. I worked on that until I had to leave in time to make it to Rio Bec Dreams by dark. That was going to be a six or seven hour drive. I was wondering how fast I was to be swallowed up by the jungle and lose the Internet facilities. I really enjoyed my stay in Campeche. The town was so clean and well painted. The Chamber of Commerce had been working hard on promoting visitors to bolster their economy. It was working too. Merida should try the same. More later, Gay