A journey of a thousand steps begins in the back seat of the bus

Location: Road Trip, Campeche, Mexico

I am traveling for three and a half hours in the back of the bus.

It is a little bouncy here and my Fitbit tracker which used to undercount my milage, now tells me I have walked 10,000 steps. Which is curious, since I have not left my bus seat.

I find the accuracy of this to be somewhat suspect, since the model of the bus was a bit later than the old fashioned foot-driven Flintstone models.

A night in the Old City

Location: Hotel Castelmar, Campeche, Mexico

This is an old mansion that has been converted into a hotel.

It has tile floors, but it also has bathmats next to the bed so your feet will not be so cold when you first get up. Old fashioned European keys. Air conditioning very efficient. There is high pressure hot water….a treat I have not had in a long time. The bed was a bit hard, but this is how the Mexicans prefer them.

I ordered hot cakes for breakfast, and they looked tasty, but the interior was raw pancake batter.

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of Rum

Location: Fuerte de San Miguel, Campeche, Mexico

One of the interesting aspects of American pop culture is we that view pirates as folk heroes.

The people of old Campeche would not have shared our views. They were a wealthy city but were raided, sacked and burned by English pirates, Dutch pirates, and French pirates. They built a seres of forts and defensive walls in the late 1600’s, many of which are still standing today.

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This fort now houses an interesting archaeological museum.

A Maya Penthouse

Location: Edzna, Campeche, Mexico

Archaeologically the site is most famous for its series of canals and reservoirs.

Curiously these are not part of the tourist accessible areas. But you can see the magnificent Temple of the Five Stories.

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If you were impressed by the number hand cut stones that were used to build Mayapan, then you will marvel at the vastness of the stone steps and terraces at the grand plaza of Edzna.

This was a huge urban center and its demise still remains a mystery.

Dinner at Home

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

Our tour group ate at the Flycatcher Inn, I have a particular fondness for this place, well, partly because I am the owner.

We served some traditional Yucatan dishes.

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous. The people on my tour had been eating Yucatan food all week. How would we measure up? What if they found it disappointing? I should have had more faith in our staff. Even the fussy eaters finished their plates, and several said it was the best food of the excursion.

I dropped off some gifts and dirty laundry, kissed my wife and headed back on the bus.

The “Old Timer’s Club”

Location: Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico

My wife has been coming to the Maya country for over thirty years, and if you give her the chance she will gladly tell you tales of when Cancun only had three hotels and there were no crowds in Tulum.

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Now, at Uxmal, I am officially a member of the Old Timer’s Club.

You see, back in my day (last year) there was an official path to the Old Woman’s House and you could explore the Temple of the Phalli. Now the path to the Old Woman’s house is overgrown and the path to the Temple of the Phalli is barricaded, making it now a Forbidden Temple.

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Those who are fond of the phallus motif will have to look elsewhere. Fortunately in the local Maya Puuc architecture you will find them popping up in the most unexpected places.

The Hall of Masks

Location: The Canton Palace (Old Archaeological Museum), Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The museum here has a wonderful exhibit of tribal and folk masks.

Perhaps if the know-it-alls who advise other folk to “just be yourself,” could see these masks, they would understand that taking on another character or entity can have very strong cultural and spiritual meanings, and sometimes you can be something so much bigger than your ordinary self. The masks are both artistic and evocative.

City of the Dead

Location: Cemeterio General, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The cemetery in Merida takes up several blocks.

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I am used to the cemeteries in the USA where grave markers tend to be of natural stone such as marble or granite and are separated by a carpet of grass. In Mexico they are boxes constructed of concrete and often painted in bright Mexican colors. Many of them have a crucifix or angel on top, giving the impression of a flock of Jesus’s rising to the sky. A number of the local families gather here at this time of year to clean and repaint the graves.

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I am told that during the Day of the Dead, some of the families sleep by the graves in the cemetery at night. But because of some logistical misunderstandings we were not able to do this.

Then again, I am not sure how I would react if some local family invited me to sleep next to their dead grandfather at night.

I am sure it would be interesting dreams.

Looking for a sign

Location: Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The museum has some nice exhibits, but bad signage has always been one of my pet peeves (I cannot understand why airports like LAS give arriving passengers only vague hints as to where to find their luggage or the parking garage).

Once you enter into a chamber of this museum, there are no marked exits to get out, handy maps, or signs in any language saying this way to the next exhibit chamber. There are guards standing by the doors to verbally direct you, but this is of little help if your primary language is English or Mayan.

The museum is also an architectural curiosity.

It is oval with a lot of empty space in the interior and the outer structure is criss crossed with grey and bright green support beams. The architect says that it is modeled after a ceiba tree, but the locals say that it had structural problems and needed extra banding to give it strength. They call it the strapping tape building.

I like the locals interpretation.