Friday, March 08, 2013

Back Home

After two uneventful bus rides, and two short flights, we are now back home in Raleigh - trip over. Once again our house survived months without us (thanks Karen and Yates!), and our friends and neighbors have been most helpful getting us back in the swing of Carolina living.
-john and sun-ling

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Valladolid

Our last night in Mexico was spent in Valladolid strategically for us located about halfway between Merida and Cancun, and just a 3 hour bus ride to the Cancun airport. By having a beautiful colonial city center, and being less than an hour from the most famous Mayan ruin, Chichen-Itza, Valladolid gets many overnight and tour-grouping-day-tripping tourists - more than we expected to see.

And another tasty noon-time breakfast.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

One other attraction of Valladolid is the many cenotes (sinkholes).
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

The Cathedral.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

Late afternoon tour groups.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

Murals in a city government building.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

Iglesia de la Candelaria
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

Convent de San Bernardino de Siena.
Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Pyramids of Izamal

Izamal is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, about 45 kms east of Merida and uniquely has Mayan pyramids right in the town center, two of which are very large. Also, the Franciscan church and monastery are built on top of a the ruins of a pyramid. Izamal is definitely worth a day-trip from Merida, or an overnight stay (which we did), and it is being considered for UNESCO World Heritage status. The write up for that is here.

Nothing like a tasty breakfast at noon to get one going for the day.
Deseyuno - Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

The streets of Izamal.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Convento de San Antonio de Padua was built on top of the destroyed Mayan Acropolis called Ppap Hol Chak.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

The view from the top of Pyramid Itzamatul, looking northwest to Pyramid KinichKakMo, the largest of the pyramids.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

The view from the top of the great pyramid KinichKakMo. The grassy area below is part of the pyramid which extends to the yellow buildings in the distance. The building with the yellow tower and large courtyard is the Convento of San Antonio de Padua.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

And more views of and from KinichKakMo.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

The lower grassy area is part of the pyramid.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Our hotel was built on top of and in pyramid Hun Pik Tok.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Pyramid Chaltun Ha is a few blocks outside town.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Sunset view from the Monastery walls.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

And the rising moon.
Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico

Convento de San Antonio de Padua plus roosting birds.







Outing from Merida: Acanceh

In 2003 we went to a few of the Mayan sites near Merida (Uxmal, Kabah, Labnah, Sayil). Given the 100 degree heat, we decided to limit our outing to a nearby small town of Acanceh where a ruined pyramid stands on the same square as the church. The town turned out to be only mildly interesting, but we were fascinated with the local rickshaw taxis (see video below). We had thought we would have seen all possible permutations of the 3-wheeled rickshaw. Here it was, a new variation: rear wheel, drive train and steering from a motorcycle; front 2 wheels of a 3-wheeled, front-loading bicycle. And the popularity of it; it seems that one either owns one, or works one, or rides in one. They are as ubiquitous as the car in Raleigh.

The plaza in Acanceh with main church center and small chapel at left.
Acanceh, Yucatan, Mexico

The plaza with pyramid ruins at left, the market at near right with the church behind.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The plaza with the market to the right and the pyramid ruins to the center back. The main church is out-of-view right.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

View from ruins back to the plaza.
Acanceh - Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Inside the church.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Here's the video of the rickshaw taxis.


A couple more taxi photos.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida - Architecture

I had too many 20th-Century modern architecture photos from Merida to put in the previous post, so here they are.

Several Art Deco and Modernist buildings in Centro.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Cine Teatro Merida - Art Deco - 1949.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Edifico La Nacional - Carlos Castillo Montes de Oca - 1936.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Edifio Las Monjas - 1948.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The former Cine Alcázar is now a parking garage.
Ex-Cine Alcázar - Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Tropicalista!.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

And another cluster to the west near Parque de la Paz.

Facultad de Medicina.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The old 1880's train station has recently been renovated and houses the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The Mayan Revivalist Monumento a la Patria - Manuel Amábilis - 1950's
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The Bellas Artes Primary School in Barrio Santiago - circa 1909.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

And the Cine Rex across the square.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hot Merida

For some strange reason, I have virtually no recollection of our 2003 visit to Merida, John very little either. This time, our initial march into the city center looking for hotels left us rather unimpressed. After trampling around the city for a few days, we decided that we like it rather well, in spite of the 100 degree weather which even made the headline in the local paper. We can catch heatwaves well, if not festivals.

Merida has all the elements that we love about Mexican cities. Its squares are particularly spacious and graceful, and it has a good number of Art Deco buildings. While "Domingo(Sunday) en Merida" is over touted by guidebooks, we had fun watching people cycling on streets closed especially for the weekly occasion. Most important of all, the local people in Merida are very friendly, considering Merida seems to have the most number of international tourists per capita of all the cities we visited. One day John and I were in the middle of navigating with our map, a young woman stopped in her track and said to us "you are on 68th street and the city center is that way." I need to work on my geniality.

Getting things going in Merida with a fine meal at Savia Vegetariano.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

And more good eating at 2012 Mayan.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Not to mention that we ordered takeout pizza 4 night in a row. The guy with glasses is a pizza genius.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

"Transportable murals" by Fernando Pacheco in the governor's palace.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The zocalo.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Dancers on the zocalo.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Parque Santa Lucia.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The Cathedral completed in 1598 out of stones from Mayan temples has gigantic stone columns. Here are two views.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Downtown with Cathdral as seen from the rooftop of Las Monjas Convent.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The Contemporary Art Museum MAYAC had 11 artists in exhibition. We liked the works of Esmeralda Torres...
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

...and Fernando Pacheco.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Two views of Iglesia Santiago.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Cathedral with streetlights.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Domingo en Merida.
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

From Aguascalientes, there is a very convenient direct flight to Cancun.  Since the wedding is at a private beach south of Playa del Carmen,...