Kaori finally managed to pull ourselves out of Merida, with which we had quickly become enamored, and got on a bus to Campeche. But not before heading to the cemetery, though. Edwin, the proprietor of our hostel, was a bit shocked when I asked how to get to the cemetery–apparently, I was the first to ever do so. However, he was quick to boast that Merida’s beautiful cemetery was second only to one which he had visited in Rome.
Kaori was quite surprised when she first set her eyes on the brightly colored graves, many of which resembled small houses or churches, continuing far off into the distance. I had seen a similarly brilliant, though significantly smaller, cemetery from the bus window outside Valladolid, but was equally enamored.
The graves, some of which were independently standing units and some of which were connected at the base with those next to them, are all above ground. A good indication that cremation is the norm. A better indication was a peek into the back of a tomb which had lost it’s back door–human bones.
Visible in a vast majority of the graves were gray tin boxes (most likely holding remains) behind a locked gate and often candles and an image of Guadalupe. Resting in front or on top are the names of the deceased as if written on a book, perhaps a representation of “the book” of names at the gate to heaven?
The general construction of the graves in Merida mirrored what I had seen in Japan, with lanterns or stone vases for flowers on the left and right and the remains of entire families stored in individual containers in the center behind door of some kind. See an example of a typical Japanese grave below.
Needless to say, I found the cemetery quite interesting. I hope you did, too.
Today, we took off to a small village about 40 minutes outside of Merida to go swimming in a group of cenotes that Edwin recommended to us. The village Cuzama, is barely a blip on the map, but it sits among over 200 cenotes, which are small pools found all across the Yucatan. Some are very cave-like while some are completely open. All water on the Yucatan peninsula flows underground (really, take a look at a map sometime–no rivers), some of it ending up in these pools that the Mayan treated as holy sites.
After arriving in Cuzama, we hired a bicycle to take us to the head of a small horse drawn railroad that was originally built to service a plantation producing fiber for clothing, carrying the workers deep into the fields. Our horse, Marquez, at a young nine years old, gave us his all, taking us over an hour into the brush to three different pools. Take a look.
Make it happen, Marquez!(will get video working soon)
Kaori and I made our way from Chichen Itza to the city of Merida, the largest city on the Yucatan Peninsula. We soon fell in love with the warmth of the people and the music, free in some city park nearly every night of the week. The town itself is a beautiful Spanish colonial town, and the local government has taken to restoration with great fervor, and now all buildings must be painted in one of seven “colonial colors” and the facade may not be altered without a permit. Obviously, some people find the restrictions to be just that–quite restricting, however, the owner of our hostel, Edwin, expressed how important the appearance of the city is to the tourist trade. He feels that most people are behind the restoration movement.
The market in Merida, like most markets in southern Mexico, are full of Mayans marketing all manner of goods. In colonial times, the town was previously gated to allow the Mayans and their goods to come in during the day, but also to keep them out during the night. We stayed right near one of the three remaining gates, which also had a building that was formerly a military outpost. All natives would be checked before they were allowed into the city.
One of three remaining gates to the city↓
Fruits and vegetables at the local market
Kaori and I are staying at a house turned hostel, run by two lovely men, Edwin (right) and Carlos (left). If you’re ever in Merida, you definitely want to look them up!!
Today we traveled from Tulum to Chichen Itza passing through Valladolid, one of the more beautiful colonial sites on the peninsula. On our way, were dozens of signs for Mayan cites developed for tourism. One can only imagine how many unsigned sites there must be in the vicinity of what was a major center of the Mayan culture in the region for half a millennium. The importance of water to the Mayan culture is evidenced by the omnipresence of the rain god (see below) and the location of the springs (cenotes) around the complex, which remain a holy place for the Mayan peoples.
Also, for those interested, Elton John will be performing at Chichen Itza in April this year.
今朝トゥルム を出発してチチェンイツァ遺跡に向った。想像していた以上に広く、１１時ちかくに入場して見終わったのは確か４時ぐらいだったと思う。事前に少し勉強して いた分「あーこれがその浴場か」とか部分部分にその当時のマヤ人の生活の雰囲気を感じることができた。一体どうやって作ったんだろう。。。そればかり考え てた。ただチチェンイツァはかなり観光地化されてるだけに敷地内でのお土産攻撃もすごかった。私の前を歩いてた日本人に物売りのおじさんが「コレ買ッテ、 安イ。アナタ金モチ、ワタシビンボー」 って笑ったね。ハハハ。
今日カ ンクン最後の日。朝にTulumまでのバスチケットを買って、11時50分発でカンクンByeBye!! 宿で会ったたつやさんとまりこさんにはMeridaで合流する予定。他の宿泊者は釣りに行くって行ってたけど、雨で中止らしい。ここカンクンにいる間ずっ と朝は曇りor雨のち晴れって日が続いてる。しかも今日一日はずっと雨みたいでちょうど移動するにはタイミング良かった。2時間でTulumに到着予定 だったのがちょうど半分地点にあたるプラヤデルカルメンに着いたのが出発してちょうど1時間半ぐらいやった・・・しかもバスの中にトイレがなくてプラヤデ ルカルメンのバス停に着いた時には漏れる寸前でダッシュでトイレまで走る。トイレを使用するのに5ペソかかるらしく、コインを持ち合わせていなかった私は 緊急用ポケットから200ペソを出してようやく入れた。BENも後でトイレに行きたくなり、バスの中で解消しました。（※写真参照）Tulumの写真も アップしておきます！！
Today we left Cancun for the ruins at Tulum, which are right on the beach. The overcast/rainy weather that has plagued us for our entire stay here was no different today. With our rain gear on our packs and umbrellas in our pockets, we were off to the bus station. Our first experience with a second-class bus was not so bad, as we were used to the “dash for seats” that they require. As we rode along, we could see the hotel zone off in the distance, separated by mangrove and a small bay. We made several stops along the way, sometimes picking up people, sometimes picking up products to be sent on to the next town.
We had packed a wonderful lunch involving lots of horchatta, which is a rice drink that I’d fallen in love with early on in my childhood. The horchatta was good, however, by the time we stopped in Playa del Carmen, an hour outside Tulum, I already really had to visit the little boys room. So did Kaori. I figured I’d let her go first. But by the time she got back, the bus, like me, was ready to go. With no real options, we guzzled the last of the horchatta, leaving just a bit in the bottom, and under the cover of Kaori’s jacket, I nearly filled our Nalgene. Boy did I feel better!
The ruins were wonderful, though the weather did not allow for swimming on the beach. The multitude of Europeans there did not seem to feel that way, however, and I saw more bikinis at the Mayan ruins than in my three days in Cancun. There could be worse things, I guess.
We were planning to take a day trip to Isla Mujeres for the beautiful snorkeling there, but when we woke up, it was raining so…we decided to go find things to eat as we wandered through the town. We came across a food called tlacoyo, which is a flat bread with meat or beans inside and guacamole, cheese, salsa, and cactus on top. Quite delicious. Kaori can’t stand corriander, so she was not as pleased, but we had to wait for five minutes to get ours, so it’s obviously popular with the locals.
In the green bucket is a mixture of cactus and spices has a sticky consistency…mmm
今朝はとりあえず寝たい分だけ寝た。起きたのは11時半ぐらい。シャワーを浴びてからブランチに昨日食べれなかったフィレのソテーと豆＋玉ねぎを炒めてト ルティーヤと一緒に食べた。なかなか美味♪午後3時ぐらいからはRuta1のバスに乗りビーチへ行った。結局風が強く少し寒かったのもあり水泳はパスし た・・・残念。
We slept in till around noon, sleeping off the long flight and the sleepless trip the night before. After a shower we made up our fish purchased the night before and were on our way to the hotel zone. Cancun has developed to support these resorts, which claim the best beaches around. We pretended to be staying in one of the hotels (the Walmart bag from last night came in handy here) and walked right through the lobby on to their perfect piece of beach. The wind was rather strong, so Kaori stayed up, but I got my body salty in the Caribbean for the first time in many, many years. On the way out, there was a person passing out pina coladas. Of course, we didn’t turn them down. Mmm.