Category Archives: Inspired

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The Glorious Hacienda Days

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Two publications lay side by side on a battered wooden table among vintage postcards, old election campaign buttons and various odds and ends; all covered by a layer of dust that hadn’t stirred since 1967.

“The haciendas,” proclaimed the gaudy tourism brochure breathlessly “are a living example of our glorious past!”

The history book; serious, dark and its pages turned far too infrequently, looked over, skeptical.

“You’re kidding, right?” it asked.

“The pseudo-French classic and baroque architecture; the grand arches!!” insisted the brochure. “The elegant soirees that the distinguished Yucatecan landowners had in gardens perfumed by citric  limonaria shrubs and gingerbread allspice trees.”

“You’re delusional,” muttered the history book, returning it’s gaze tiredly to the spiderweb-infested ceiling of the tienda de antiguedades in Merida’s overcooked and overcrowded centro.

“Ever hear of ’12 Years a Slave’ – the movie?” The history book seriously doubted that the tourism brochure had done much of anything that wasn’t of a superficial nature.

“The furniture was brought from Europe and was the epitome of refined culture and taste!” replied the tourism brochure, giddy with excitement. “You too can experience this marvellous lifestyle in many newly restored former henequen haciendas that have been turned into five-star hotels!!”

The history book declined to comment further as it would have been a fruitless undertaking to try and convince the tourism brochure that it’s spiel was not only ridiculous but also myopic as it completely glossed over all the human misery that hacienda life entailed. But, it couldn’t resist one last remark. “Glorious, indeed,” the history book snorted derisively, “unless you were brown.”

“Oh shush,” the tourism brochure whispered, “why are you always so negative?”

“Not sure,” answered the history book, “perhaps I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“The immaculately restored-to-its-former-magnificence machine room with its high ceilings is now a culinary destination worthy of Adriá!” the tourism brochure continued.

The history book sighed a tired sigh.

 

 

The Story of Gonzalo Guerrero

For those of you who enjoy a good yarn, and think like me that there is much in the history of the Yucatan that deserves a Coppola or better yet, Christopher Nolan treatment on the big screen, I would like to suggest a look at Gonzalo Guerrero.

Here’s a guy who is all old-school Spanish in the 1500’s and comes over to the so-called new world and, on a boat trip along the coast in a big old sailing ship and boom – the boat hits a reef and capsizes – leaving Guerrero and about 12 or 13 of his pals in a life boat, or perhaps clinging to a piece of timber, on which they reach the shore. Maybe they land photogenically on a sandy beach, or perhaps have to claw their way through twisted, mosquito and croc infested mangroves to land. I’ll leave that scene up to Christopher. Perhaps Emmanuel Lubezki can make it appropriately stunning, as this is the lead-up to the first interaction between the Mayans and the Europeans.

The Mayans meet them and, having somewhat of an appetite, promptly eat most of the survivors, keeping two of them alive for later. Dessert, perhaps? In any case, imagine the culture shock of these catholic Spaniards, meeting brown skinned natives painted in fearsome colors and speaking what surely to them must have seemed utter gibberish. A ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ moment, to be sure.

To summarize the rest of the tale, Gonzalo Guerrero goes native, adopting local hair styles and perforations and leading his new friends in battle against his former countrymen when they inevitably return with more ships in their thirst for golden treasures. His pal Aguilar, who is famous only thanks to his being a counterpart to Guerrero and who kept his Catholic faith and beliefs throughout and runs back to the arms of the Spanish crown at the first opportunity, is soon forgotten by the scribes of history. Gonzalo Guerrero, on the other hand is immortalized forever and is dubbed the ‘padre del mestizaje‘ or the father of all modern Mexicans, who have the blood of native Mexicans and Europeans coursing through their cholesterol-addled veins.

Is this a great idea for a movie or WHAT? Enough with scouring the archives and garbage bins at Marvel Comics. THIS could be a real blockbuster, folks!

 

I’ll Pray for You

Finally it happened. The most condescending phrase that self-righteous Christians can lob at an unbeliever when they have no real argument, has been leveled at me.

Under a cloud photo on Facebook that someone shared where the cloud bears a resemblance to a flying something, the post raved about the glory of God and the sign that was this angel in the heavens over Buttville, USA.

I commented simply that it was, in fact, a cloud. The rebuttal was that some people have no faith which seemed silly since it was a photo of a cloud and it didn’t require faith to imagine it was a pterodactyl or an angel or whatever. When I replied that indeed, I did not enjoy that kind of ‘faith’, the patronizing phrase was thrown in my direction.

“I’ll pray for you.”

I looked it up as I was at a loss as to what to counter with and came across this fantastic little article. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

http://atheistexperience.blogspot.mx/2008/09/ill-pray-for-you.html

Dispatches from the Gym

As of late, I have taken to using the swimming pool at the gym where I work out; a result of some strange twinges in my back that could or could not be a sign to take it easy with the weights or then again, just a sign of old age.

An x-ray and check up with an orthopedist surgeon revealed nothing out of the ordinary and he encouraged me to ‘strengthen’ my midsection, laughing when I told him that 3 sets of 12 sit-ups on the incline bench were already part of my weighty routine.

“Thirty sit-ups?” he laughed derisively, ” you need to be doing at least a hundred or more each day.”

I tolerate his disdain only because a) he is a friend of mine and b) he didn’t charge me anything for the doctor’s visit and c) he is one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the city.

In any case, I have taken up swimming which is a great way to exercise here, as there is no sweating involved, no jarring impact injury potential and it is generally a peaceful experience, when the pool staff isn’t playing the latest David Guetta rave concert at full volume.

Recently I witnessed a classic Merida scene while in the pool. The cutest little three or four year old girl, goggles on, clutching her swim instructor who was encouraging her to kick harder. Her head rested on his shoulder, her tiny hands grasping his neck. Think Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire but even more adorable.

Mom, meanwhile, was in the air conditioned lounging area, updating her Facebook page or some such equally significant activity on her smartphone while nearby, but by no means near the young mother, a rather stocky, sullen brown person ie. her maid, sat looking bored, large bags of clothes and other accoutrements related to keeping her charge (the little girl) at her side.

What a missed opportunity, I thought, in my naive Canadian way, for this Mom to connect with her daughter in the pool. The tenderness of the child hanging onto the instructor for dear life reminded me of the many small kids I taught to swim back when my little ones were, well, little. Memories to last a lifetime. And this woman, evidently, judging (yes I am judgemental) from her clothes, maid and bone structure, from Merida’s clase acomodada, was completely missing out on them.

Kind of sad, really.

Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

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Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

The photo (above) is typical of one you would find in a public or semi-public parking lot in Merida and to the Merida newbie it might be a bit confusing.

If you have studied any Spanish at all, you might recognize the word – sort of – and think “Oh, I remember paloma, which means pigeon, so this might mean male paloma. A palomo!” Alas, you’d be wrong and besides, you’d still be wondering about the ‘lic’ part. I mean it’s not ‘lic’ as in ‘lick’ which could mean don’t lick the palomos, but no.

‘Lic’ is short for ‘Licenciado’ which is a title usually handed out once you have completed some sort of lawyerly career option. Once you have achieved Licenciado status, you can place it in front of your last name and often people will call you simply ‘Licenciado’ instead of using your name. Short version? Lic. Pronounced Lick. With that explanation under our belt, we can therefore deduce that the sign is referring to a Licenciado Palomo; Palomo being his last name.

And there’s that crossed out letter ‘E’ as well, which everyone who has traveled means no E’ing. Seriously though, you have studied some Spanish (maybe you’ve been to España!) and so you recognize the sign indicating no parking. Parking is estacionar in Spanish. So that crossed out ‘E’ means no parking.

Now you must put them together.

It might mean that there is no parking if you are the Lic. Palomo. So should he happen to show up, he most definitely can not park in that space as the sign is personally directed at him. It might also mean that ‘Ey, no licking palomos‘ in that space because that’s how you pronounce the letter ‘E’ en español –Ey. Third option – and this one’s a keeper – is that the space is reserved for a certain Licenciado Palomo, so don’t you go parking your damn car there.

Got it? Good.

Where to watch the World Cup in Merida – Round Two

To continue the reviewing of possible options for your FIFA World Cup viewing, here is the latest contender for your beer drinking pesos.

Merida Restaurants and Bars and other Venues

Stars are awarded in each category as follows:

* Horrible, stay away
** Not quite as bad as horrible, but not worth the drive. If you’re in the neighborhood…
*** Average – hit or miss, meh
**** Pretty darn good, make an effort.
***** Worth driving to and find parking for

HENNESSY’S

The game on the menu today was USA vs Germany, and, since the gringos were playing I thought it best to watch this at the popular expat hangout everyone knows and loves: Hennesseys.

1. Screen quality and location: ****
Hennessy’s screens are behind the bar so you will need to sit at the bar or thereabouts in order to get a view of the screen. There is one on each side and while these are great at night, the 11 AM game time was not an optimum moment as there was some glare from the sun outside and so one of the screens had a big white glare spot in the middle of it and I had to watch the one further away. A nice touch was a temporary third screen showing the simultaneous Portugal vs Ghana game, which, had things gone differently, would have affected the outcome of the main event today. Unfortunately the Portugal game was an internet feed that cut out every 2 seconds or so, making it impossible to watch. Thank you TelMex, for that excellent internet service.
2. Air conditioning: ****
Could have been a little cooler in my never humble opinion but perhaps there were enough older folks there with thin blood that need a little more heat than I. Boston’s wins this round as well.
3. Service: ****
With the friendly guys that Sean and Colm are, I am always surprised the wait staff is so serious. But you will get your drinks (or coffee) and Hennessy’s has prizes for every single match. So each time Portugal scored a goal, free shots of whisky all around. Can’t beat that!
4. Food: *****
We all know and love the Hennessy’s menu. Great pub food and the mussels are worth licking the bowl, Emily Post be damned.
5. Prices: *****
Hennessy’s is not cheap but you don’t feel like you are getting ripped off by any stretch of the imagination. You are paying for the food, the drinks and the place is gorgeous.
6. Ambience: Maybe it was the fact that the Germans (yawn) were playing the USA team coached by a German (snore). No yelling, no fist pumps, no hooting and hollering. Just a reflective kind of fandom that is probably not used to watching football. Real football I mean. I expect there would be more excitement if it was college American football or basketball or something. Or maybe a book reading. It was pretty quiet. I suspect things get more lively when Mexico is playing and the more enthusiastic Mexicans come to cheer on their team.

http://www.hennessysirishpub.com/

Where to watch the World Cup in Merida – Round One

Unless you live in a Yucatan cave (sacred or otherwise) – or the United States of America – you will probably have noticed that the World Cup is on and the world is watching.

There are many options to watch the matches (also called games) both at home and in the city of Merida itself. Here are some of those options, along with the pros and cons.

Home Viewing

If you have Sky or Dish you are all set to watch the World Cup at home. But if you are like me, you don’t have the fantastic television offerings (sarcasm) of the aforementioned satellite networks and have to resort to watching games on the computer via some live streaming feed on the ‘net with sleep-inducing British announcers that give you the play-by-play from their sofa where they are lying in some sort of tea-and-scone-induced coma. It’s akin to watching a Golf Channel transmission; it’s that exciting. The video quality of these streaming feeds is so low that the players look like Lego pieces chip-chopping along a green background, like an old Nintendo game from the Pleistocene era. Then, when your team is about to score a goal, the screen freezes altogether and the sound cuts out as well.

If you are watching on the afore-mentioned television networks, you are going to have to make sure to avoid the pre and post game commentary which runs the gamut from childishly clownlike to Beavis and Butthead teen toilet humor to Dumb and Dumber a la mexicana. Soap opera commercials will leave you breathless with anticipation as you wonder how close the camera will get on that teardrop crawling down the poor (but pretty) servant girl’s only slightly brown face (she can’t be all that pretty if she is too obviously of indigenous descent – Mexican television rule number 18)

Merida Restaurants and Bars and other Venues

Stars are awarded in each category as follows:

* Horrible, stay away
** Not quite as bad as horrible, but not worth the drive. If you’re in the neighborhood…
*** Average – hit or miss, meh
**** Pretty darn good, make an effort.
***** Worth driving to and find parking for

BOSTON’S PIZZA

The first match I watched in a restaurant/bar was USA vs Portugal, at Boston’s Pizza’s Gran Plaza location, with Better Half. Boston’s Pizza so far leads in the unofficial survey of Great Places to Watch a Sports Event like the World Cup (GPTWASELTWC por sus siglas en inglés, as the Diario would say). 

1. Screen quality and location: *****
Boston’s has a lot of screens and you can be sitting anywhere and see the game. And hear it. They pipe the audio in to the restaurant’s sound system and so you won’t miss a thing. Video quality is clear and sharp and the screens are large. 
2. Air conditioning: *****
Excellent and you will be able to fist pump the air without the potential embarrassment of underarm sweat stains grossing out your date or fellow game watchers who might care about such things
3. Service: ****
Fast and more or less attentive. They will keep you plied with drinks and enough food if you are willing. Could have a sense of humor, but then again, these are all just kids barely out of high school.
4. Food: ****
Good, fatty bar food and pizza that is really excellent. Try the Mama Meata (lots of carne) and notice the wait person say Mama Miata as in the car.
5. Prices: *****
Excellent prices, for them. Boston’s is not cheap but it is probably worth it if an important game is on.
6. Ambience: Chill. No one is going nuts, unless a goal by the favorite team is scored, then there is a lot of yelling and shouting. But the mood is somewhat on the civilized side as the game progresses. The usual oohs and aaaahs as goalposts are struck by errant balls projected from unbelievable angles by various body parts.

http://www.bostons.com.mx/

ELADIOS

The second match was Mexico vs Croacia, at Eladio’s in Altabrisa again with Better Half but with an additional 13 people as well. We all sat at one long table in their small-ish salon con aire acondicionado. That’s right, Eladio’s doesn’t enjoy A/C in the main room, preferring to keep it more on the al fresco end of the temperature spectrum, an interesting choice since they are only open mid-day, the hottest time of the year. The World Cup is on in June this year and it is only somewhat warm (more sarcasm)

1. Screen quality and location: **
The screens at Eladio’s seem improvised and were installed specifically for this, it would seem. They are smallish and the color is off on a few of them, rendering them fluorescent and difficult to watch if you are epileptic. Sounds is muddled and piped in through a KBR sound system. You’ve seen the KBR speakers: they are the cheap, Asian version of JBL speakers complete with the same style of red letter logo on the front. It’s the audio equivalent of trying to get a throaty 427 V8 hemi sound out of your six-cylinder 1974 Dodge Dart. Uh uh; ain’t gonna happen.
2. Air conditioning: **
No fist-pumping the air hear – your underarms will show that the A/C in this room is not keeping up with the amount of warm bodies inside. Plus the giant sliding glass doors that open and close constantly as waiters and busboys enter and leave, more or less negate what those poor compressors are trying to do. Think sticky.
3. Service: *****
Fast and furious. As in right on it. They are super fast with both drinks and botana and if the game sucks, the highlight of the visit might be seeing those waiters and busboys carry in a tray-load of botana plates for a large table of 15, stacked impossibly on top of one another. Waiters are fun and have a great sense of humor
4. Food: ****
It’s all Yucatecan and for the most part pretty good. To me, it’s a little on the bland side, but it is rich and heavy the way Yucatecan food should be and you will leave with a solid distension of abdomen that will go away in about 24 hours. Added bonus: no pickled pig ears. No worries.
5. Prices: ****
Stick to beer and botana and you won’t be spending that much. You will get to sample most of the menu without even looking at it. Just keep drinking.
6. Ambience: *****
It’s raucous. Here you will enjoy live renditions of the Mexican “PUTOOO” chant, in all it’s expletive glory. Don’t even think about complaining; you’ll be the object of that chant faster than you can grind some pepita seeds on your dzotobichay. When there is a goal from the favorite team, the place will go batshit. Chairs will fall over, drinks will be spilled and much fist pumping, clapping, yelling and back slapping will ensue. Go batshit with everyone else and enjoy a true Mexican moment. Also, when Mexico plays and the pre-game national anthem comes on and people in the restaurant stand, go ahead and stand with them. Don’t be sitting there like a puu… You get the idea.

 http://www.eladios.com.mx/18-1-La+ciudad+de+Merida.html

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more reviews as the World Cup continues!

FIFA WEBSITE

 

The Coliseo Experience – Marc Anthony Comes to Merida

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From the poster, we should all have known that the temperature inside the Coliseo was going to be heat-stroke inducing.

I drive by the new (as of this writing) Coliseo every day. I marvel at it’s size and the potential of having world-class entertainment come to Merida at last, and not have to play on a baseball field or a sports stadium. Until last night, however, I had not been inside the building. Marc Anthony came to town and of course the Better Half wanted to go so we got some decent tickets in the tiered section, three rows up right in the middle. Fantastic seats with a perfect view of the stage.

But let’s step back for a moment and start at the beginning of the experience, from when you approach the Coliseo on the highway. If you are coming from Progreso, you must take the Dzibilchaltun exit on your right, but of course that is not marked so you will unwittingly reach the Maseca exit only to find it blocked off – at which point you will have to continue on to the Xcanatun exit and come back and find yourself in the same predicament as the people coming from Merida! From Merida, you need to be in your left lane practically from Liverpool on as the process of getting to the Coliseo is not exactly a streamlined process, to say the least. On the highway to Progreso, in your left lane with your emergency flashers a-flashing like a good Mexican driver, you advance slowly but hopefully patiently.

Bring an audiobook for this part of your trip as it may take a while. I suggest something calming as your nerves are about to be tested. You notice that many people pass on the lane to your right but pay them little heed until you come to a point where you notice that all these people, who had far less patience than you and were NOT going to wait in line, are now trying to force their way into your lane. You will notice cars behind you and in front of you closing in on their neighbors, moving to literal bumper-to-bumper status so as not to let ANYONE in.

When you come to the Dzibilchaltun roundabout, you will notice that there are other cars, probably from the Ceiba or Country golf residential areas, trying to merge into the roundabout which is now a solid line of vehicles with only a henequen fiber’s space between the front of one car and the back of the other. Then suddenly someone from the the golf lineup will just drive into the line of cars and force someone in your line to apply the brakes, causing much horn-honking and high beam flashing, but nothing more serious. (Yes, that was me) If this were Los Angeles…

Now you have come around the roundabout and are going again in a Progreso to Merida direction. You will notice that there are two lanes to choose from, so you pick the right lane, which is moving slower than the left, but it is the one that will take you into the Coliseo, you figure. A third lane appears as impatient drivers move to take over any available asphalt in their quest to reach the Coliseo.

The show starts at 9 and it is 8:30 when you finally reach the entrance to the Coliseo and that one lane that became two and then three? They are all turning into the Coliseo parking lot. You are merging almost bumper car style from three to two lanes and then are met with – surprise – a guy that tells you you need to pay $30 pesos for parking. Never mind that you already forked over $100 – $400 USD or more for your ticket, this is extra*. And it’s not like you have a choice either, the highway across the street and any available parking in the area has been blocked off by the state police.

So you pay and get a very official looking little ticket (insert chuckle or snort here) and proceed along the 3 yards of pavement to what is now a Xmatkuil parking lot, complete with a few rocks lining the route and plenty of dusty dirt. In fact, the Xmatkuil parking lot may be better, as they at least left some trees in the parking lot as a nod to Mother Nature; but in the modern Coliseo world, Mother Nature probably didn’t pay her 30 pesos ticket and so was kicked to the curb by a bulldozer. Note to self – don’t wash car to impress anyone if coming to the Coliseo. It will be covered in dust (as will you) at the end of the night.

After parking almost in Sisal, you then embark on a leisurely 15 minute stroll to the building, breathing in the gritty dust of the hot night air and enjoying the blinding bright white glaring in your face as you stumble behind the people in front of you.

At the door your ticket is checked and you are relieved of your cigarettes. Not your lighter, but your cigarettes. What the hell? I save two for later in a shirt pocket and hand over my pack and this seems satisfactory to the person doing the cigarette collecting.

At last, we are inside.

The place looks like it is not yet finished, but the spaces for concessions and so on are full; it appears many companies have paid big pesos to be there and have even brought their sound systems and skimpily clad edecanes (models whose purpose it is to draw your attention to whatever the company that hired them is trying to promote, which they do by flaunting skin tight lycra clothing, as much cleavage as they can push up and exposed navels) The sound systems create the kind of cacophony that would rival Xmatkuil on opening day, which seems to be what the Coliseo is all about.

There is a lineup for the elevator (yes, elevator) to take us to the seats and section where we are supposed to be, but I don’t want to stand in line and also want to see the place, so I suggest we take the stairs. The semi-open building is still pretty hot as we hike up several flights of concrete stairs in a never-ending spiral.

Somewhat out of breath, we arrive at our level and a random young lady takes the tickets out of my hands and starts walking so we follow. If she had had a uniform it would have been a little less adrenaline-producing to have those tickets snatched out of my hand like that. But, it turns out she is one of many ushers, none of whom are wearing anything remotely resembling a uniform and we are shown to our seat, such as it is. The seats are the plastic kind you would find at a sports arena and quite close together both on the sides and in front and back. Walking out from your seat to the stairs to say, go to the bathroom, would require some care and in the high heels some of these ladies were wearing, it would be downright dangerous and the chance of falling into the seats and onto the heads of those seated directly in front would be pretty high.

Immediately we notice the heat. It is unbearably hot and everyone of the female persuasion and the occasional male is fanning themselves. We all acquire a healthy “glow” as we wait for the show to begin.

As I mentioned the seats were great. I felt sorry for the folks in the front row, where there is a balcony looking down on the sorry-ass VIP’s below, because this front row is also where the vendors are passing by selling everything from beer, pop and water to snacks to junk food to whatever else they can, out of elegant 5 gallon paint buckets. There are at least 1,000 of them in the entire place and they DO NOT STOP the entire evening and so, those people who thought they had an unobstructed view of the stage, spend much of their evening peering around the sweaty bodies of vendors looking forlornly and expectantly into the bleachers.

Did I mention the heat? As I said before, if you are a woman, don’t bother putting on makeup or dressing in any light colors as the dust outside will dirty your clothing and the heat inside will smudge the Sephora garage sale on your face. It is really hot. Reading up on the Coliseo’s Facebook page, someone complained about the fact that the air conditioners weren’t turned on until half way through the concert, and the Coliseo answer was that yes they were, but there were so many people that “affected the air flow”. Um, OK. That makes perfect sense.

Oh yes, the sorry-ass VIP comment. The people on the floor had paid top peso to be there in their little seats and all. As soon as the lights dimmed and the music started, however, the seats were abandoned as was all sense of decorum and it became a large mosh pit filled with an over-dressed mob that jostled to get as close to the stage as possible. Aisles? Forget about it; those filled up as well.

An MC announced a welcome to the disinterested crowd, and informed us all where the emergency exits were, should an emergency arise. The immediate concern to me was suffocation and heat stroke as my shirt stuck to my back in spite of Better Half’s vigorous fanning.

Marc started his show more or less on time and people continued drifting in until about 10 AM and by then, the show was 1/3 over and the Coliseo was finally full. The powers that be at this point started thinking about turning on the air conditioning.

Perhaps in another post I will write about the concert itself, but for now, this report has gone on for far too long.

Ahh, what the hell; a few lines about the concert. Short show, awful, muddled acoustics due to all that concrete, and he stops singing during almost all the songs and asks the audience if “they know this one” and then holds the microphone out to the audience and they all scream along in their charming tone-deaf but enthusiastic way like autistic children at a birthday party. I know this is how concerts at Xmatkuil and other palenque events work, but I was hoping for a more enlightened experience at this new and supposedly more sophisticated venue. Alas, it was not to be. Marc by the way was also sporting a healthy glow that quickly metamorphosed into a full blown flow of sweat and he laughingly mentioned on more than one occasion that it sure was cold here tonight which got a laugh out of the audience every time.

So what about after the show you ask. Well, I could write for another 12 minutes about the absolute MESS that is all those people leaving the Coliseo parking lot at the same time with no direction, no courtesy and driving like a herd of horny hippos that have been let loose from the zoo to find a mate after 2 years in captivity. I could, but I won’t. Have you been to Costco and seen how the charming mothers from the catholic Merida school across the street, who use it as their personal parking lot, will commit vehicular homicide against anyone who is in their way? It’s like that, but on a larger, unmarked, chaotic and of course dustier scale.

The Coliseo has potential, but I don’t see anyone working on it these days so perhaps the half-finished look and feel is what they were going for. One day perhaps, the plastic-looking facade will be redone with something more striking and the parking lot will be landscaped (insert another snort here) or at least paved and there will be some adequate lighting outside and the air conditioners will be turned on (or they will let less people in to enable more “air flow”) but for now, I will avoid it and retain my sanity thank you very much.

 

* The parking fee, from what I have learned extra-officially is the Coliseo’s payment to the state police for “helping” them “organize” the parking situation. Apparently the money goes to some sort of fund for policeman’s families.   

 

Superman on Montejo

On the Prolongación Paseo de Montejo recently, I was able to observe this super-man who, while transporting a giant king-size mattress from A to B, felt that him assisting in holding the mattress down by the plastic covering on it, would basically prevent it from flying away with a gust of wind.

I can’t remember if it was George Lopez or Jerry Seinfeld that first pointed out this (always male) phenomenon and the (always male) belief that simply grabbing whatever is on your car roof can be held down by you with one hand as you drive along the road.

Please note that this is a male thing and not related to the license plate on the car; I will not approve posts that make fun of our neighbours from Campeche thank you very much.

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Uxmal. What if?

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Rising is dangerous. Really? Physically rising? Socially aspirational rising?

If you visit Uxmal on a regular basis, showing off this wonderful site to visitors and friends, you may perhaps have a few questions as I do. Criticizing is of course, bad and we wouldn’t want to affect anyone’s self-esteem or God forbid offend anyone, so let’s just ask some hypothetical “what if” questions:

  1. What if: When you arrived at Uxmal there was a welcoming smile at the ticket booth and not the burned out, Mr. Grumpy that currently received visitors who wait patiently in line?
  2. What if: The federal and state authorities were to make a leap of faith, move into the 21st century and trust modern computer and accounting software to divide the entry fee so that visitors could pay one ticket and not lineup for two separate tickets, sold side by side by two employees at two separate desks with two separate cash floats and to be punched by two separate employees at two separate ticket-punching stations? This archaic system works well for the government agencies involved, but is the purpose of Uxmal to benefit the government agencies and their accounting or is it to delight the visitor?
  3. What if: You could buy the ticket to enter Uxmal in less than 2 minutes? If there more than 4 people waiting, you can easily spend 10 minutes in the two lineups to get your two tickets from the two employees in the two windows.
  4. What if: If you did have to wait, you could do so in the shade? If larger groups are in line to buy their tickets, you will stand in the baking April sun thinking “is it really worth it?” while you feel trickles of sweat running down the small of your back. The employees are in the shade and so good for them. What about the visitors? Could they not at least have a canopy of some sort to stop them from literally burning? Would this not make their experience better?
  5. What if: You could choose the best guide and not the one whose turn it is? Some guides are better than others, some speak English better than others and some are better with children. But you can’t choose because there is a system in place that makes you take the next guide in line. Great for the guides – and I love them all – but is the visit to Uxmal about the guides having a fair distribution of clients, or is it about the visitor’s experience?
  6. What if: They actually hired someone who spoke English to translate the signs warning people of the dangers in climbing the ruins and respecting the structures? Signs like “not sit” and “rising is dangerous” are toe-curling embarrassments to those of us who live here and take away from the magnificence of Uxmal. Hiring someone’s cousin who speaks no English to translate the signs obviously benefited someone – wink, wink – but how does this impact the visitor’s experience?

What if the powers that be considered the visitors experience when they arrive in the Yucatan instead of spending millions of pesos on snazzy brochures and costly junkets to tourism fairs to promote the states attractions? Doesn’t magnificent Uxmal and all its grandeur deserve more than just to act as a cash cow for inefficient bureaucracies interested only in self-preservation? Ask yourself these “what if” questions on your next visit to Uxmal and think about how much better it could be. Is this the hospitality we want to show our guests when they arrive in the Yucatan? Yucatecans are famous for their hospitality. Is this really as good as we can be?