Sunday, April 29, 2012


Late Saturday afternoon, just before the rain, the setting sun turned an otherwise brilliant white church this
soft color -a nice contrast to the gray storm clouds.
Parque Santiago


Once a grand hacienda, Yaxcopoil is now operated as a museum of sorts by descendants of the original owners. The grounds are dry and dusty and very little has been done to restore the buildings. For an admission price of 50 pesos, you can tour the main casa, filled with old furniture and artifacts from its heyday. The property is of a grand scale and at least one of the buildings, possibly a huge work building, was closed for viewing. Wandering through the casa can be fun, if nothing more than to take a peek at the collection of furniture and other household items. I was primarily interested in photographing architectural detail and found Hacienda Ochil and Yaxcopoil equally photogenic.

First building


View from behind a gate

Colorful and inviting

Peeking over a wall

Post and pulley
Moorish-inspired window arch

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hacienda Ochil

A short drive south of Mérida, past Uman, is a lovely faded gem of a hacienda with walls of arches in the Moorish style. You enter the grounds through a grand arch  followed by a walk through a stand of tall Royal Palms on either side. The old rail tracks that were used to carry hennequen from field to work area are still intact, running through the beautifully maintained grounds. This hacienda is primarily operated as a restaurant, but there were few customers during our visit.

The faded colors blend together in shades of ochre, coral, umber and terra-cotta.

The area around this window has decayed to reveal the indestructible mamposteria wall

This arch is truly stunning
Moorish arches are seen throughout Yucatan in many of the haciendas and in colonial style homes in
el Centro. When we first visited Mérida, we were surprised to see the extent of Moorish-inspired architecture.


A tree at the opening of this small cenote
at the rear of the hacienda
If you are hoping to see sweeping vistas in my photography, you might be disappointed. I tend to look for texture, color and detail that leaves the viewer wondering what's behind the image. Hacienda Ochil is well worth the 177.00MX admission price, if just to stroll through the beautiful, shaded, multi-terraced landscape.

Friday, April 27, 2012

An Afternoon in Uxmal

Templo del Adivino
We spent Thursday afternoon visiting Uxmal, Ochil, and Yaxcopoil. Trekking through Uxmal in the early afternoon can drain your energy very quickly. Next time I will go in the early morning for better light. The site closes at 5PM, which is when the best light begins. None the less, we got some good shots. Alan has my older camera and has really taken some great photos. I'm still working on learning the ropes with my new camera. With the newer digital cameras, if you have a poor exposure, blame the photographer not the camera.

Stay tuned for a few shots from Hacienda Ochil and Hacienda Yaxcopoil.

Templo del Adivino -side view

Detail of wall


Detail II

Lone out-building

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arriving in Mérida

It is really nice to touch down in Mérida only two hours after our departure from Houston. Our checked bags arrived moments after we reached baggage claim and we both got the green light through customs, so it couldn't have been more than 15 minutes before we were in a taxi headed for Calle 47-A.

As we approached the house, we could see lights and the front door open and there was Ruben standing on the sidewalk. He seems to have this uncanny sense of when we come and go. It is not unusual for us to go out for a few hours and when we return, within a few minutes, Ruben is at the door to see if we need anything. It is wonderful having him, literally, just around the corner.

We always perk up, no matter how tired, when we walk into the house. Everything is just as we left it the last time, with only a few things slightly moved around. It had been 5 days since the house was cleaned, so there was a bit of dust -nothing bad. We could manage until Tuesday, our regular cleaning day.
Ruben did inform us that Jazmin now has another (better) job and her cousin Mari Carmen is the new housekeeper. We hate to lose Jazmin, but Mari Carmen is very nice and seems to understand my poor attempt at communicating. We need immersion -badly.

Here's looking at you...
We did discover that a framed print that had been hanging in the master bath was missing. We thought that perhaps it had been taken down to clean and was resting someplace against a wall. We looked high and low and could not find it. It was a very inexpensive print I had purchased from and had framed here. Oh well, no great loss. On Monday morning, Alan discovered the print, face against the wall in the laundry room. I liked that the print was hanging on the wall opposite a large mirror, so that when you pass by the bathroom you see, reflected, two vividly colored impressionist faces. Alan discovered that when occupying el trono, it appears that the two faces are staring at you. We can only conclude that a guest did not like the intrusion and simply removed the print, or maybe it was the housekeeper?

I didn't mention that the weather here is superb for April. The days are warm with very low humidity and pleasant breezes and the evenings are cool and refreshing. It couldn't be more perfect.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leaving for Merida

Greg, Dave, Jason, David, John, & Alan

We began the day Sunday at 4:00 AM, where we quickly dressed and headed for the airport to begin the first leg of our trip. We walked off the plane in Houston at a little after 8:00 AM and minutes later were greeted by Alan's brother Dave and whisked away to Tomball, TX. We spent a very lovely day visiting Dave and Chris and two of our three nephews, David and Greg. We enjoyed a wonderful brunch and then took a stroll through the woods behind their home, accompanied by their two horses and two dogs. Along the trail, we encountered two snakes ( thankfully not poisonous) and a turtle.

After more great conversation we headed back to the airport for the 7:15 flight to MID. We had just enough time to visit the United Air Club and enjoyed a snack of fruit, cheese and crackers and coffee before boarding. We thoroughly enjoyed our brief time with Alan's family and will make a point to do this more with the long layovers in Houston.

Chris and the horses

Alan attempted to teach me to how to play chess on the flight to Merida. Needless to say, my brain was way too exhausted to grasp the intricacies of the game. Perhaps another time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Five days and counting...

This Sunday we will begin our long overdue trip to Mérida and it will be a long day as well. We leave Norfolk International Airport ( why do regional airports call themselves 'international', when you can't fly direct to any international locations without first connecting and changing planes in a 'real' international airport?) at 0600. We arrive in Houston at 0730 and have an almost 12 hour layover before the evening flight to MID. The upside to this almost unendurable layover is that we will spend the day with Alan's brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews. It has been quite a while since we last visited, so this will be a great way to spend those 12 hours. Spending a lot of time in a busy airport seems to drain every ounce of energy from my body. Even if I read, which I find difficult to do in that environment with the constant intercom chatter and loud cellphone conversations from every direction, I can't seem to relax. I finally gave in and got the Continental Presidential Plus card, that costs an arm and a leg in annual fees, but which gains us access to the United Air Club room. There are some benefits that I hope will negate the annual fee.

First, there are complimentary beverages, breakfast and afternoon snacks, comfortable chairs, free wireless access, and newspapers and magazines, not to mention thousands fewer people. We also each get first and second checked bags free, which means we can carry an extra bag loaded with towels, sheets, and other necessities that we can find much cheaper at home. Then there is this: no exchange fees on purchases made abroad. Our last trip I was astounded when I got the Capital One statement after we had purchased a few pieces of furniture. That alone would have mostly covered the fee on the new card. The clincher is this: the first year is substantially discounted and once we are in Mérida permanently, we can simply cancel the card.

So, can you agree that I have thoroughly justified this bit of extravagance?

We are really excited about this trip. The pool should be spic and span after it is drained and scrubbed clean of mineral deposits this week. The roof will have been checked and drains cleaned. There is a painter set to paint the fachada and fountain. Jazmin will have the house spotlessly clean and the floors shining and there is a photographic excursion planned for Uxmal, Yaxcopoil, and Ochil.  We plan to see the Gulf of Mexico from the shores of Yucatán. We will enjoy some great food, relax with afternoon siestas, and hopefully see some of our new friends.