Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve-Christmas Day

This is mainly for family and friends in the States who may have wondered just what one does in Mexico on the first Christmas away from family and loved ones. On the left is "Buddy's" a local watering hole and grill that is run by a Dutchman by the name of Remko. It's located right on the malecon (beach walk) in Progreso and is a place where many gringos like to congregate. We found out that on Christmas eve there was going to be a buffet festival and we went.

A great feast awaited us consisting of prime rib, turkey, and salmon as well as veggies, salad, bread and such. They also had what the chef told me was "Yucatan Hamburger" which was like meatloaf but it had pineapple and raisins in it and was quite tasty.

The decor was festive and intricate.


On Christmas day we were invited to a friend's house in Progreso along with an assortment of other gringos both full-time residents and winter visitors. Carol set up the house, and we all brought something to eat pot-luck.

At the table you can see:

(clockwise) Abigail, Ivonne, Bonnie, Indra, David, Chuck, and Carol.

We exchanged some small gifts. Here is Indra with her new back scratcher.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome Into the world.......

My newest grandson, Jackson David Baker.
Born 9:58 am, December 19, 2007.
Weight - 7 lbs, 15.6 oz.

The proud parents, my youngest daughter Cheryl and her companion David.

My eldest daughter (now aunt) Mary and my other grandson in the background (now cousin) Kyle.

A handsome young fellow, isn't he? My warmest congratulations to the parents.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A New Visitor

As we were leaving to go grocery shopping today Indra noticed a peculiar shaped critter climbing through the decorative blocks onto our patio. Upon further inspection it revealed itself to be a Yucatan Vine Snake. We'd seen a much smaller one before but this character was about 5 feet long.

Thelma the coon hound, as always, thought it was a "treat" and is staring at it longingly. Anyway, we turned it loose in the vacant but verdant lot next door. Later I found this on the internet about this beautiful creature:

"The species goes by a variety of names, including Neotropical Vine Snake, Whipsnake, Bejuquilla Parda and, in local Maya, Xtachoy. Xtachoy refers to the drawstring on a well bucket. It's OXYBELIS AENEUS.
One reason people know this species is that the snake really looks like a vine stem, and Mexicans are always grabbing such stems intending to hack them with their machetes. Grab this, and you'll remember it for a long time. The snake is not particularly aggressive but if grabbed it will bite, and this species is "semi- venomous." My Maya-speaking friend Don ElĂ­as, who has a long history of machete-swinging, says that if an Xtachoy bites you you won't die or lose an arm, but you'll get a serious sore that'll take a very long time to heal.
The snake eats small lizards, especially anoles, and part of its lizard-fooling camouflage is to remain rigid for hours, often extending like a vine from one tree to another."

I probably wouldn't have been so cavalier about handling it had I read this beforehand.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Yucatan Christmas Tree

Hello everyone!
Our first Christmas in Mexico is fast approaching and reminds us that the two main things we miss about the U.S.A. are our friends and families.
As we were packing for this trip we had to be very careful in selecting what were essentials and what were necessities and Christmas ornaments were left behind. While beach combing it occurred to us that maybe we could incorporate some of the flotsam and jetsam scattered about into yuletide cheer and that's what we have done.

Behold the spiny sea urchin:
We find these occasionally and sometimes the spines are still on as in this fine specimen collected by Indra, or the spines are worn off leaving behind a beautiful pattern.
We decided these looked enough like ornaments and they are certainly fragile enough to qualify but needed a measure of "brightening up" to bring them up to code.

Enter the silver spray paint. Look closely and you'll also see a long, bean-like object getting the paint treatment as well. We don't know what these are so we call them beans and they wash-up on shore along with the other former sea life.

We tried some red paint just for contrast but it didn't work. It was just a matter of some thread, a needle and some glue to get them ready for hanging.

Click on this one to enlarge it and marvel at nature's handiwork. It rivals a Fabrege' egg for delicacy.

The "beans" as icicles and the urchins along with some store bought goodies and lights and there you go!

And the finished product.....

And with that we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a great 2008.

(YVC Tee Shirt courtesy D.W. Clark, KOMO TV)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Do the X'matkuil"

It was a brisk (86 degrees) Thanksgiving Day today and since the only turkey we've seen lately is the one wandering around the neighbor's yard across the street, we decided the best thing to do was go to the Yucatan State Fair to see what was what.
It was about a 45 minute drive to the city of X'matkuil (pronounced Ish-mat-koo-eel) and very easy to find the fairgrounds as it's the biggest deal in town. The cost: $2.00 to park and $1.00 each to get in. "Ah-ha", I thought, "more cash for scones!" (more on this later).
At the front entrance there was this very nice facsimile of El Castillo of which we are all REAL proud .

Our first stop was, of course, Reptile Planet. It was a very nicely executed live display of some of the planet's most deadly and not so deadly snakes, lizards and even a crocodile. The fellow on the right is a Black Mamba. I'll leave it to you to Google it, but he's a nasty one.

Like any state fair, agriculture plays a big part.
Besides exhibits like this, there were also the latest example of farm equipment.

Did someone say "livestock"? You bet! We saw horses, bulls, sheep, goats...all kinds of things.

These are the sheep.

These are Brahmas.

This guy seemed VERY glad to see us.

And, like all state fairs, the carney games of chance were everywhere. But we never expected to see "this......."

"This" being an exhibit featuring "devices of torture, pain and death" as used in the Spanish Inquisition.
Fun for the whole family!
The line was WAY too long for us so, with our appetites aflame we set off to find a suitable fair lunch.

Since scones weren't available, good old Yucatecan Tacos were just what we needed. After four of these fully loaded beef numbers with cabbage, onions, tomatoes and avocado and some hot sauce....well, suffice it to say there was a reason Taco Bell folded up their tent and moved on from Merida long ago.


Just so we don't seem so smug about ethnic food here, we also ran across this food court:

Burger King?! Domino's Pizza?! Not today, friends!

Next stop: housewares. Again, a little different from what we are used to.

Did I say that 96% of the population here is Catholic?

Indra shopping for a new bedspread.

The rodeo is a popular sport here and there were also exhibitors showing some fancy saddles.

All good things must come to an end.....I was remarking to Indra that it's too bad we can't add the sounds and smells to these pictures. We plan on returning next year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Teatro Merida

I thought I'd share some pictures of a theater I came across while taking a lunchtime stroll through the centro district of Merida.

This art deco number was built in the 1920's and like in so many other cities (notably Miami), slated for demolition until the locals convinced the government to save it. After restoration, it has been used as a performing arts center.

Check out this ticket booth.

...and these doors into the theater.

To the upper balcony.

Ceiling lights in the lobby.

We haven't seen the inside yet, but hope to someday when it's not so hectic around here.