Izamal, Ake and the sisal factory: Dec 22
I walked all over town looking at what was left of the ancient Mayan pyramids, the stones, which were still intact that weren't stolen to build the Spanish church and dwellings. In spite of that, I liked the convent and arches. It had a beautiful altar. The monks said it was ok to take a picture. It was too dark to see much, sorry. I walked back down the steps of the convent and over to the market and found besides the meat department and the veggies, a whole section of food vendors that were selling meat tacos for breakfast. They were doing a brisk business. I found the orange juice man and he squeezed me a plastic bottle of fresh orange juice. Going to miss that when I get home. I couldn't find any eggs, so I went to a small restaurant next to the market and had a lovely omelet with rice and guacamole. The restaurant was very clean and the decorations were lovely. I really enjoyed my breakfast.
I continued my walk and the ever-present Internet came into view. When I was done with the Internet, I saw a man opening his store. I had been kind of waiting for him as the write up on the town in the Yucatan Today magazine said he was from the US. Sure enough he was Hector Garza. He and his wife were from Austin. (I live 40 miles from Austin). They had been down here 18 years, the first 12 in Merida. He goes all over Mexico and buys some really neat stuff from the interior of Mexico to sell in his shop, 'Hecho a Mano'. He sat me down and we hashed over the condition of the world condition while he ate breakfast. He told me that a fancy doctor from Merida owns the Hotel Cantu where I stayed, that was in such a fleabag condition, has never done anything to fix it up. Apparently uses the hotel as a status symbol. Some of his friends should stay there and tell him a thing or three about the condition. It could be fixed up really nice. The building is an Old Colonial Spanish style probably as old as the conquest.
Itzamal doesn't seem to do a whole lot of stuff other than the usual small dusty town things. I did see a couple of nice houses and some interesting local flavor. I was glad to get on the road after walking the all over the whole place looking for the 5 parts of the pyramids. Only managed to see three and in the conversation with Hector Garza he told me I was sitting by the wall of the fourth one in the area next to his shop. I bid him good-bye and drove from there back to the highway. Somehow I missed the road that goes to the Ake site. I ended up almost to the Merida city limits before I found a road that went that way. The whole landscape in that area is flat and scrubby salt flats. Not many trees and a whole lot of small dusty villages. Being the whole ground is packed with rocks everyone has a great rock fence. The only way to clear your land is stack rocks into a fence. It is that way all over Mexico, especially in the Yucatan area.
When I did find Ake, about 3 p.m. it was located behind an old Hacendia fence and a sisal factory. The factory was running and I could see the machinery moving. It didn't take long to look at the site of Ake that contained a columned building, the temple and another smaller temple building behind it with stairs and an old wooden cross at the top.
When I came down I stopped at the factory and asked if I could take a couple of pictures. He said 2.00 but I didn't have change. He walked away just as a pickup pulled into the larger building on the other side of the dirt road. I debated and then got back out of the car and went across to where the men were. I asked again, telling him I was writing a book and wanted pictures. I asked him if he had change, sure enough, (after the price went up a dollar) to 3.00 I was given the grand tour of how they make jute rope and twine out of Maguey cactus. Fantastic process. The machinery they were using was shipped from England in the 1850's and was still running. After he showed me the plant he took me back to the huge 30 foot high building and showed me how they take the cactus leaves and strip the fiber out of the leaf and get it ready to spin into jute in the factory part. He also told me that the hurricane from two years ago ripped off the roof and damaged some of the operation. This made sense after wondering why the roof only had a few boards on it. When he was done I tipped him 2.00 because money talks and he was nice to explain how the sisal was made. No English, but a lot of hand gestures and pointing. He even gave me a ball of jute twine. By that time it was getting dark and I hustled out of there and made it to Motul, as I figured I could get a hotel there and not try to go on to Merida. I had until the next night before I was to take the bus to Palenque. I still wanted to see the site of Xcambo and run the coast road into Merida. More later, Gay