Monthly Archives: February 2014

Some Thoughts on Progreso

A recent post on TripAdvisor from someone who visited Progreso and didn’t like it, prompted me to write an answer, but the answer became longer and longer so I am posting it here instead, as a little article that should fit nicely into the neurotic rant category that my website/blog has become famous for.

The original post:

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4. Re: Day trip from a cruise, need advice on what to do

Feb 13, 2014, 11:05 PM
 

Just got back from there today. Was not impressed with progreso as a port in general. Not really a “tourist” port in my opinion.

First thing u see is military people with guns and dogs. Very few shops. No beaches or any typical fun stuff.

I did go see the ruins and really enjoyed that. But if your not interested in ruins there’s not much else to do.

Drove thru Progreso and it didn’t look very nice. Didn’t look like a place u would want to be after dark. Lol

I got to see some of the ruins, took lots of pics and learned some history but will not go back to that port again.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g668864-i12892-k7128551-Day_trip_from_a_cruise_need_advice_on_what_to_do-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#postreply

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While I am no lover of Progreso and agree it needs help, I should point out a few things:

1. It is not a postcard beach resort for tourists but it is a beach and thousands of Yucatecos and others from around Mexico enjoy it every weekend and holiday, and especially in the summer. Physically it is similar to the beach in Galveston; both are on the Gulf of Mexico with sand that is off white, waters that range from turquoise to green-gray and the potential for seaweed in certain areas. To say that there is no beach is ridiculous and might mislead some readers to think that Progreso is somehow inland and not where the water meets the land, which is the definition of a shoreline which in this case is sandy, which is the definition of the term “beach”.

2. Military and guns are on the federally controlled pier, yes. Unfortunately, due to demand from the societies to Mexico’s north that for some reason are so unhappy and miserable that they need to get stoned just to get by, there is a drug war going on, as suppliers rush to fill a demand; real capitalism at work. Ideally, this should make certain more strident elements of US politics happy, as unfettered capitalism is the goal, but no, not in this case. So, soldiers are needed to make sure that drugs are not moving in and out of these entry points. I understand that it is unusual for citizens of the land of the free to see soldiers and guns, but other places around the world see them all the time, and in this case you can blame your crack smoking neighbors back home.

3. Typical fun stuff. What does that even mean? If it is typical fun stuff you are looking for, don’t leave the ship (or the all inclusive), where things are predictable, experiences are typical and will not challenge your sense of how the world should be.

4. Visiting the ruins is exactly why Carnival stops at Progreso. The idea is to get people to see something truly magnificent, like Uxmal or Chichen; or Dzibilchaltun even. There are however, more things to do in the area, from exploring cenotes to exploring markets, sampling food, visiting the colonial center of Merida, over 450 years old and so much more.

5. Progreso definitely needs a facelift and a major one at that. The town is dusty and dilapidated and very rough around the edges, which might give one impression that you would not want to be there after dark. I can personally vouch for the safety of anyone in Progreso after dark, where your biggest danger – unlike getting shot or mugged in a port city north of the border – might be getting hit on by a drunken old man who wants to both flirt and practice his limited English, or twisting an ankle on the uneven sidewalks. Progreso is very safe, in spite of its run-down look.

Friar Diego de Landa’s Poem a la Dr. Seuss

Diego_de_Landa

I am Xiu

Xiu I am

That Xiu I am,
that Xiu I am!
I do not like that Xiu I am

Do you like our Chilam Balam?

I do not like it, Xiu I am
I do not like your Chilam Balam

Would you like it here or there?

I would not like it here or there
I would not like it anywhere
I do not like your Chilam Balam
I do not like it, Xiu I am

Would you read it in a choza?
Or have it read you by a moza?

I would not read it in a choza
nor have it read me by a moza
I would not like it here or there
I would not like it anywhere
I do not like your Chilam Balam
I do not like it, Xiu I am

Would you read it in a cave?
In a cenote? With my slave?

I would not read it in a cave,
in a cenote or with your slave!

Would you read it, in Mani?
It’s all about us, don’t you see?

I would not read it, in Mani
it isn’t Catholic,
so it’s not for me!
I would not like it here or there
I don’t want to hear about it, anywhere.
I don’t want to read it in a cave
or a damp cenote and not with your slave!
I do not like the Chilam Balam
Be very careful, Xiu I am

Would you, could you,
take a chance?
It makes us happy; watch us dance!
Try to read it,
you’ll get quite far;
our culture, traditions,
it’s who we are!

I would not, could not
take a chance,
it’s sinful, pagan,
that you all dance.
Your scripts are evil;
you’ll go to hell!
But I can save you,
and make you well.
Just tell me where
is this Chilam Balam,
and I will save you,
Xiu I am!

Mani! Mani!
Mani! Mani!
Come read it,
read it,
and you will see!

I’ll come to see you,
Xiu I am
I’ll come to read
your Chilam Balam.
If you’ll come forward
and show your face
I’ll come to see you
and save your race

I see it now,
the Chilam Balam
I’m reading it, amazed
oh Xiu I am
But I really must tell you
that from what I can tell,
that you really are
going to burn in hell!
So to speed up the process
and to save all your souls,
I’m burning your books,
your idols, your bowls
and you must burn too,
Xiu, by the way
and for history’s sake
it’ll be an auto de fé.

(silence)

PostScript:

1) The Chilam Balam, is one of several books of Mayan writings and does not necessarily coincide with the event in Mani. It is meant as a general reference to the Mayan culture

2) In 1561-62, Friar Diego de Landa, incensed that the Mayans were secretly worshiping their Mayan gods and idols all the while professing to be catholics, ordered all their writings, idols and anything he could find, to be burned in a huge bonfire in Mani.

“Among the many ‘bad guys’ in the history of sacred texts, the Friar Diego de Landa has to occupy a special circle in hell. In 1562, de Landa conducted an ‘Auto de fé’ in Maní where in addition to 5000 ‘idols,’ he burned 27 books in Maya writing. This one act deprived future generations of a huge body of Mayan literature. He culturally impoverished the descendants of the Mayas, and left only four codices for scholars to puzzle over.”

from http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/maya/ybac/

3) The Xiu were one of the areas Mayan families, the descendants of which are/were the genesis for the restaurant El Principe Tutul Xiu, in Mani.