Thursday, 22 September 2016

Pools, pouring rain and pyramids

This was the hottest house on earth. The aircon unit was ancient and the noise it produced echoed off the tiled floors and spartan walls which meant the only way we could sleep was to be both drunk and wear earplugs. A busy main road ran just feet from the metal doors (that heated in the sun) at the front of the house and these had to remain closed in order to avoid deafness and carbon monoxide poisoning. The one fan in the kitchen, dining, living area roared like a prop engine on a spitfire and whilst it did move the humid air it meant we could not think or have coherent conversations. To top it off the storms which rolled in each afternoon caused the road to flood to about 200mm. This meant getting wet feet if you went out side, or wet everything if the doors were open when a lorry passed. Ironically with all this water about the place ran dry on two occasions meaning there was often a smell of unflushed poo loitering on the air. Thats the negatives. The positives were the things we did whilst staying in this town.

The street outside our house
We hired some bikes and toodled off to another Cenote. This one very different from the previous two in that it was underground. The pool is reached by descending about 15 metres down some slippery steps until you reach the cavern with some flat areas for standing and further steps leading into the water. The cenote is about 25m across and was filled with cool clear water with elaborately finned black fish swimming in it. Large stalatites dripped their slow way down to the water and vines dangled from crevices overhead. A hole of about 1 metre set overhead let a shaft of brilliant midday sun down to the pool which then reflected tortoise shell shapes onto the rock walls and ceiling. Bats squeaked and flapped in and out of the hole above whilst we stripped off to our cosies and swam beneath them. All very different from a plunge in the local swimming pool.

Rachel swimming in underground pool
We had to forgo going to a bee farm owned by the guy we rented the house from due to the rain. The same rain that waterlogged the video equipment used for video mapping a lightshow on an impressive church. That's life...As Esta would say.

In Valledolid there is a portly American who has converted a huge townhouse into a magnificent home that he opens daily for charity donations. His home is filled, no, stuffed full of Mexican folk art which he has avidly collected for 50 years and is quite extraordinary. Many pieces featuring skeletons (Katrinas), and fantastic dream creatures. Some whimisical and commissioned directly by him but all richly coloured and taking up nearly every available bit of wall and floor space. Thank you Casa de los Venados for a interesting and informative few hours.

Mexican folk at at Casa de los Venados
Next (and this is the last of these for a while) is Chichen Itza. How many hours did we deliberate about going to these, the biggest Mayan ruins in Mexico?? We had seen amazing ruins all through our travels here. Ones you could touch, climb upon, discover in jungle and stare at in awe. The common denominator with those being that they were largely deserted due to their locations. We decided to take everyones advice....thinking it would make little difference....and got a collectivo heading that way so we could be there when it opened at 8.00am. WE WERE FIRST IN THE QUEUE!!! Queue is overstating it though. Whilst we bustled through the gates with the wide eyes of kids being the first in Disneyland there were for the first 30 minutes no more than 20 others there. We could look and immese ourselves in fantasies of what went on here without the distraction of people - who 2 hours later were arriving in their hoards. The scale of the place is impressive. The main ziggarat stands 30 metres tall and dominates the main plaza. And its not hard to picture the place crowded with natives cheering as sacrificial heads are lopped off and cast from the dias above.

Chichen Itza
There are various buildings in various states of decay or renovation and it certainly deserves its tourist strapline of being one of the 7 wonders. But...... In truth, it's all a bit sanitised and hyped up. Because of its size and openess it does not connect with you in a way that you want. Whilst smaller sites make your skin prickle. It maybe because we have seen several that we feel like this but i could argue that experience gives me a yardstick to measure against. Who knows... If you are over this way. Do it. It will blow you away but if you want something more from your ruins check out the blog on other ones we saw.

I am now sitting on the roof terrace of our latest little pied de terre in Merida. The winds are blowing in huge thunder clouds and its only seconds from raining so time to go in and spend time planning our next few days or wonder whether my daughter (who is pregnant and 11 days overdue) will ever deliver my first grandchild.

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