Happy day after Thanksgiving to all our friends and we hope you are as stuffed as we are! Last year we spent Thanksgiving at the Yucatan state fair scarfing tacos. This was because our rental house had no oven in which to roast the bird. This year we were determined to put together an American Thanksgiving which proved to be a shade difficult. Here there is no cruising to Safeway or Albertson's for one-stop shopping. One has to search-out the detailed products such as cranberry sauce or stuffing mix...things that are not part of the Mexican diet. We found most of it.
The table was set, the turkey roasted, and our friends arrived.
This is Cari, who is from England. She actually has a farm in Spain, but has rented it out so she could spend some time at the beach. Sadly for us, she will be returning to Spain next February.
This is Cari's boyfriend Vidal. Vidal is a local and makes his living creating jewelry he fashions from natural materials which he
sells in Merida at the public market. And, he is a huge fan
of blues music! He taught himself to play blues harmonica and after
dinner, entertained us much to our delight.
Our third dinner guest was Mario. Mario was our neighbor when we lived at the rental house and works for CFE which is the electric company. He came straight from work in Motul, and grabbed the maracas to get in on the music.
I realized the other day that there were a few areas of the house I hadn't shared. For those who are interested, here are some shots of our living room:
And here is why it helps to have a logical, analytical type when working with an architect. Of course I'm talking about Indra. We were struggling with the logistics of where to put the computer, printer, scanner, computer desk (which we didn't even have), etc. when Indra noticed a closet in the plan right behind the front door. We needed computer space more than a closet so....
Pretty clever of her,eh?
Outside, we have begun the landscaping which is going to take some time. We planted a couple of Bougainvillas, a fan palm (they grow wild all over our property), and for her birthday I got Indra what is called a Ponytail Palm. Just the beginning.
Again, we hope your Thanksgiving was fun and tasty.
I have known Ned Neltner for 40 years. I worked for Ned in two bands in the late 60's: The Gas Company, and The Northwest Rock and Roll Band. We spent our time at some of the legendary rock palaces of the day such as the Burlington Roller Frolics, the Evergreen Ballroom, Parkers, the Oak Harbor Roller Barn, and a memorable New Year`s Eve at a hotel in Trail, B.C. entertaining the local lumberjacks. Then, in 1970, Ned formed Jr. Cadillac and this band has been rockin' the Pacific Northwest ever since. They play a variety of venues such as community celebrations, casinos, corporate events, private parties, and the like.
Nice looking group of lads, aren't they?
Here is the Jr. Cadillac website should you wish to book them or check out their performance schedule for next summer when it is released:
In the winter months, Ned heads south...way south...to his home in Barra de Navidad (Christmas Bay), on the Pacific coast of Mexico where he has lived part-time for many, many years. And it is here that he morphs into his alter-ego Lalo.
This is the cover the latest of 7 CD's Lalo has released. Produced by his son Richard and recorded in Mexico, the music almost defies categorization. It's a little bit of reggae, a little good-time rock and roll, a little blues, and the songs are a combination of Lalo's original compositions along with re workings of songs by the likes of Willie Nelson and Ron Holden. Now, I've listened to a lot of music in my day and I can vouch that Lalo's CD's merit many repeat playings. Let's call it Mexican Beach Music for now.
Not only that, but Lalo holds forth at live, solo performances at clubs such as Piper's Blues Bar and Grill' in Barra de Navidad entertaining the locals as well as tourists who arrive on cruise ships from around the world.
I would urge you to visit this site for some samples of Lalo and to order CD's. You'll be pleased, trust me:
Uxmal, meaning "Thrice built" is my favorite archeological site in the Yucatan. Indra and I visited this place before we moved here and recently I had a chance to revisit it during a corporate weekend with my company.
I thought I'd share a few photos with you.
The first thing one sees when entering is the Magician's Pyramid and it is unusual in several ways. The layers of the step pyramid are oval, rather than the usual rectangular or square shape. It was a common practice in Mesoamerica to build new temple pyramids atop older ones (three times here), but here a newer pyramid was built centered slightly to the east of the older pyramid, so that on the west side the temple atop the old pyramid is preserved, with the newer temple above it. That little doorway near the top was made by explorers entering the pyramid.
Here's another view from the west side showing the older temple steps and doorway and the newer alter on the top...
Of course, Chichen Itza is the place where most tourists go and it is impressive. But one of the things that makes Uxmal so nice that once inside there are no people trying to sell you souvenirs and it's way less crowded. Even peaceful.
This is the Nun's quadrangle, so named by the Spaniards when they showed up in the 1500's.
While much work has been done consolidate and restore buildings, little in the way of serious archeological excavation and research has been done here, therefore the city's dates of occupation are unknown and the estimated population (about 25,000 people) is at present only a very rough guess subject to change upon better data. Most of the architecture visible today was built between about 700 and 1100.
You can't climb the Wizard's pyramid at Uxmal, but you can climb a second called the Grand Pyramid which is where I took this shot...
This also gives an idea of how absolutely flat this area is.
If you are ever here, put Uxmal on your list of places to visit.
Near the Yucalpeten Marina, about which I blogged a few months ago, sits a solemn reminder of the dangers faced by these brave fishermen each time they set out into the Gulf to earn their living.
The monument greets visitors to a large plaza and is flanked by symmetrical walls on each side.
On the walls, arranged by years, are the names of los pescadores lost at sea. Some years, the toll is greater than others.
Hurricanes and the Nortes, or winds from the north which hit us here in the winter months are the usual causes of the losses as the boats used by the locals are small; powered by low horse powered motors that can be no match for the wind.
And a look beyond the walls that are inhabited by the lists and years and names reveals more walls. Blank walls. Walls waiting for the new names that are, sadly, sure to come.
I decided it might be a good idea for the folks back home to have a look at our little town and also to introduce newcomers and newcomers-to-be to some of the more important places they will eventually need to know about.
This is by no means all-inclusive, but I tried to hit the highlights and counted on Indra's assistance to remind me of things I was forgetting.
We'll start downtown.
This is the town square on Calle 80, one of the main north/south drags. It was recently refurbished along with a general downtown sprucing up. They added new park benches, trash cans and lighting. This was a big deal for a community that has very little financial resources.
Several building just off the square include:
The municipal building or city hall. If you become a property owner, this is where you will pay your property taxes.
Banorte, probably the best and most friendly bank we've found. Dante Corona is one of the bankers there and he speaks English and is extremely friendly and helpful. Corner of Calles 80 and 31.
This is the post office and it's easy to miss. It's on Calle 31 just west of the park.
Here we have one of the clinics in case you get an ailment. Located across the street south from the municipal building, it's called Centro Medico Americano, which has nothing to do with any North American affiliations. They are open for emergencies 24 hours and the emergency entrance is on Calle 82 on the east side of the building. During normal hours, just go inside and register tell them you need to see a doctor. There is no clipboard with endless insurance forms or waivers of liability to read and sign and they do have doctors who speak English. Our one trip there last year cost us 250 pesos and a follow-up visit a week later was no charge. Enough said, no?
If you need a cab, they are located on the north side of the park.
This is S.M.A.P.A.P. or as we call it the water company and is where you go to transfer service into your name and you can pay your bill here as well. The water bill is standard for residences and runs 50 pesos a month. We think (but are not sure) the locals have a betting pool to guess when this water tower will collapse. Located on Calle 80 heading south out of town.
Place your bets....
This is the Telmex office where you will be going if you want a land line phone in your house. They also offer highspeed LAN internet through Prodigy and it is very good and reliable. I think this is a problem for the outlying beach areas, correct me if I'm wrong. Telmex is located at the corner of Calle 29 and Calle 74.
And while were on the subject of utilities you will eventually also visit CFE, or the power company. It's located on Calle 31 going east from downtown. Limited English is spoken there but they are cordial and so far visits there have proved successful.
Now, let's talk grocery shopping. When we first started visiting Progreso there was only one supermarket. The Super San Francisco De Asis. It's located downtown on Calle 80 near the town square. It was the only game in town other than the little tiendas that cater to the quick purchase. So when we moved here, that is where we shopped. Then we found out about.....
The Bodega Aurrera. The day we watched as 6 checkers at the San Francisco stood around chatting while we waited in a long line at the only register open to spend our hard earned pesos was the day we switched to the "bodega" as it's known here. What a joy! Bigger selection! Lower prices! Why, it was just like shopping at...shopping at...a....WALMART! Now. I don't know where you stand on the Walmart question, but we see them as one of the largest corporate greed pigs on the planet and detest everything they stand for. If you disagree, fine, start your own blog. But the bodega is indeed a Walmart company so we were torn between our principles and our need to be fed. That is a powerful need. We compromised by shopping at Costco and Chedraui and Mega when in Merida but I'm afraid we're stuck on this one.
Back to town:
This is Pemex and if you drive this is where you buy your gas. Period. There is no self serve and the attendants are supposed to get tipped if you feel you should. My rule is if they just pump the gas and take the money, "gracias, hasta luego." If they add a window wash, 5 pesos is theirs. There are two Pemex stations, this one on Calle 78 as you enter town from the south and another on Calle 80 as you head south out of town.
This is the local fire and rescue station. I read in the paper that lately they have been battling a blaze at the Chixilub dump. They also do water rescues.
I've suggested to people who are looking for used furniture to try Ruben's place on Calle 31 east of downtown (north side of the street). His inventory changes frequently, he speaks some English and is usually willing to bargain. Here is picture so you know what to look for.
This is our mall with plenty of free off-street parking. Really, there is not much in it of note other than an ADO bus office where you can buy tickets to ride their luxury (not fooling here) buses to Cancun and save a bundle on gas and tolls, and a movie theater. We went there last year to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and although it was in Espanol with no subtitles for us gringos, it only cost 25 pesos and the AC was cranked up so it was a nice break from the heat.
If you have bicycles that need to be tuned up, tightened up, oiled or serviced, this place on Calle 27 between 78 and 80 will fill the bill for very little money and they do quick and good work.
Now some places of note on Calle 29 bewteen Calles 78 and 80:
This is the El Paso which has food that tends to lean more to the exotic-imported variety. They are also expensive, but I cave in whenever I want some REAL butter as opposed to what is generally available out there. It comes in a can from New Zealand but trust me, it is the real deal.
Farmacias Similares are in a few locations and as the name implies they deal in generic drugs. They may not always have what the doctor prescribed but they are worth checking out. They even advertise they will give you a consultation for 25 pesos. So far I have resisted that urge.
You're going to want to visit this place if you haven't already. It's commonly called "The Plastic Store" by us gringos (Indra calls it "Plastics R Us") but it is much more than Tupperware-style stuff. You know those big oval plates they use at diners to deliver a chicken fried steak the size of Nebraska? They have 'em. Heck, they even have egg slicers now! We bought our Christmas tree lights there last year. Check it out.
Calle 80 looking north.
Calle 80 looking south towards the town square.
We're still trying to figure out what they do here.
And lastly, my favorite hamburger place in the Yucatan:
Benny's Burger located on Calle 31 heading east out of town. They don't open until 8 PM but I think it's worth the wait. All burgers come with fries, too.
Indra and I hope this has been informative and entertaining. It you're reading this from Yolisto, please add any information that will help our new and soon to be new neighbors get adjusted to this wonderful place.