Tag Archives: chichen itza

Chichen Itza – Random Imagery

A menagerie of tourists
wandering herds of pampered human flesh
bright white sneakers, tomato-red faces, tank tops with sunburnt arms dangling

scrawny brown vendors en masse
hogging shady trees,
waving shiny trinkets, “Juan Dolla!”

weary, burnt-out guides
in mirrored sunglasses, white guayaberas washed to the point of transparency
“now look over here, my friends” ad nauseum

wrinkled wizened face
the ancient tiny Mayan lady’s sad eyes
“hankie 10 pesos” her only English

sweaty lineups
crowded bathrooms and overpriced ice cream shops
tourists in heat-exhausted stupors, indifferent employees

“hat my friend, hat my friend”
brown woman ignored by the pale masses
climbing the stairs to their overheated destiny

flocks of silver buses
motors racing, air conditioners on high
parked, waiting for their victims to return, the driver snoring in his undershirt

Wonder of the World
Chichen Itza Disney-fied
and cash cow to the government

Tropical Haiku – The Heat

At this time of the year, the Yucatan scrub forest turns brown, smoke plumes erupt and Yuum Kin turns up the volume, scorching the earth and challenging all life forms to figure out a way to deal with the battering ram of heat that threatens to crush everything in its path.

Here’s some tropical haiku on the subject.

Brush fires

The withering leaves

on crispy branches await

fire is coming

Forest animals

crunching underfoot

the deer approaches the well

a hunter awaits

Uxmal

Squinting in the heat

the tourists sweat profusely

guide is mumbling

Chichen Itza

Herds of pasty flesh

burning red under the sun

give me the beach please

El Centro

The heat from above

absorbed by cement and brick

baking us humans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chichen Itza Sound and Light Show for Extranjeros

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Yep, there’s a pyramid under that projection!

Perhaps you have been reading about Uxmal on this blog, where the sugar coating comes off and the tourism rhetoric is saved for another day.

Perhaps not. If not, then you need to get with the program.:

http://www.lawsonsyucatan.com/2014/04/01/uxmal-what-if/

http://www.lawsonsyucatan.com/2014/05/14/6-reasons-why-uxmal-is-better-than-chichen-itza/

Now it’s time for an update on the situation for foreigners trying to see the new ‘sound and light’ show at Chichen Itza. Why anyone would want to see the further Disney-fication of the Mayan culture let alone pay for the privilege is beyond me, but apparently there are some that do like to see colored lights on the altars and temples there, so here you go.

This article is for people (foreigners) who are coming to Chichen Itza on their own, not from a hotel or a travel agency. Those situations require their own dexterities which are not covered today.

The good news is that the entry to the ‘show’ is free, monetarily speaking. Not free of effort however. Here are the steps to follow, designed by someone in an air conditioned office, unfamiliar with the idea of tourism promotion and how to treat our visiting guests once they arrive:

1) You must visit the office of Cultur (the Yucatan state agency in charge of Mayan ruins and administrator of the enormous cash flow that these sites provide) in person where you will be handed a ticket that contains a folio number. A website address is also provided for the next step. Be sure to take along ID in case you don’t look foreign enough.

2) You must then take the folio number and enter it on a web page on the aforementioned website. A confirmation screen comes up and you must print this page. Hopefully the website will be up and hopefully you will have access to the internet AND A PRINTER.

3) You then take the printed page (save our forests!) to the ticket counter at Chichen Itza where it is checked against a list for that day, to see if you are on it. If you are, hooray, you get a ticket and can go to the lineup where the ticketholders are waiting to get in to see the show. If not, well, all that previous work was for nothing.

4) Enjoy your walk to the area where you will witness this technological wonder, where you will be amazed by lighting effects splashed on the buildings. The show itself will last a whopping 25 minutes.

5) Enjoy the walk out, and back to your car. And the drive back to wherever you came from.

I hope this post has been helpful to you, dear reader. Personally I could think of easier ways to grant access to a free show, most of which involve lining up and then letting people in, but I am hardly an expert in such matters.

 

6 Reasons Why Uxmal is Better Than Chichen Itza

Uxmal is better than Chichen Itzá.

Yeah, I said it.

While all the tour companies and agencies and re-sellers and operators are out to make a buck on delivering hordes of bleary-eyed and sunburnt beachgoers from Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, those in the know are in Uxmal enjoying what is most assuredly a superior Mayan ruin experience.

Here are the top six reasons Uxmal beats Chichen Itzá, hands down:

1. It’s location. Uxmal is located 90 minutes from Merida and about 5 hours from Cancun which is fantastic. Fantastic because the hordes from the Quintana Roo (Google it) side  of the Yucatan peninsula are not going to show up here, ever. To get to Uxmal from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun and that all-inclusive hotel, you would have to sacrifice a night of accommodation you already paid for and stay in the area around Uxmal or at least Mérida OR spend the entire day driving. And of course then you would be exposed to all that crime in this country. And all this leads to the second reason Uxmal beats Chichen Itzá:

2. No Crowds. Mostly because of the location, Uxmal never feels crowded. Whereas at Chichen Itzá you will line up for a ticket, line up for a bathroom, line up for a second ticket, line up to get your ticket punched and can not get a photo of a structure without seven hundred other human beings photobombing you, at Uxmal you can play Annie Leibovitz all day and get some truly award-winning photos that will keep you in the money via iStock for years to come. Maybe. There is enough room that whenever a tour bus does show up (and they do, but they are full of Russians, Italians, Belgians, Germans or Poles rather than Americanos) the site is large enough to absorb them and it never feels crowded. Also, if you are going to make a wish (inside joke) there are no lines at the bathrooms, ladies!

3. No vendors. Woo-hoo! If you have been to Chichen Itzá lately you know all about the vendors and how their presence INSIDE the site is an eyesore and takes away from your experience. Nothing like feeling the energy of the the ancient stones with your fellow “crystal people” when suddenly your meditative reverie is interrupted by  a nasal shout from under the trees “CHEAPER THAN WALMART!” Um, OK, good to know since I always shop for my Mayan souvenirs at Walmart. The vendors have their agenda and I am not going to get into whether or not it’s a valid one; we are talking about the experience here, and they are not helping by occupying every shady spot on the site and hassling you every two steps with yet another article of dubious origin that all miraculously cost the same and are made by the same person – the ubiquitous and elusive Juan Dolla. You may get the impression that YOU are Juan Dolla: “blanket, Juan Dolla”; “jade mask, Juan Dolla”; Along with the wood carver next to the table carving his (same) piece of wood for the duration of his day thereby convincing you that those masks and jaguars and calendars are hand carved, there are also the Mayan grannies who have learned some English: “hankie, Juan Dolla”. Uxmal has no vendors inside the site. Period.

4. The structure themselves. While Chichen Itzá is impressive in its size and many buildings are indeed breathtaking, the stonework on each and every façade at Uxmal is so much more intricate and will literally blow your mind, if you are of the artistic bent and are prepared to allow your mind to be blown. Chichen Itzá’s structures feature some carved stone but there was also a lot of stucco, painted and sculpted, which, over the centuries has melted away under the sun, rain and the chisels and pockets of the curious. The stones on the other hand at Uxmal, are still there, probably because the un-enlightened Spaniards did not find it necessary to build anything resembling a city, town or hacienda there.

5. No ropes! OK: just a few. The buildings and structures at Uxmal have far less restrictions and nasty ropes draped around their entirety with the sign “no pasar” or “prohibido el paso” which means you are able to walk around in the jungle, behind giant partially restored pyramids, play Indiana Jones (watch out for snakes and wasps) and/or generally feel like Dora the Explorer in your own way. You can climb the giant pyramid at the back for a spectacular and vertigo-inducing view. At Chichen Itzá, EVERYTHING is roped off, all the cool little pathways into the jungle have the aforementioned rope or chain and forget about climbing up anything to get a look around.

6. The best espresso in the Yucatan. It’s true, in spite of what Starbucks and some of those newly arrived Italianos in Merida might tell you: the espresso at the little cart up against the wall in Uxmal, is probably the best espresso you will find for hundreds of miles around.  Chichen Itzá does not have one of these carts. Boo for them.

 

Jennifer Lopez Visits Chichen Itza

J-Lo at Chichen Itza

So, if you have read the local papers, you know that J-Lo was in Chichen Itza filming a video. It’s unclear whether the video is to help promote the site, as Chichen Itza needs promoting – no one has heard of it I’m sure – or is a music video for J-Lo herself.

In any case, and according to the Diario de Yucatan article, she did her thing there which included staying overnight in the Pavarotti suite at the Mayaland hotel, which runs $1100 plus tax (dollars, per night) which I am sure she didn’t really have to pay for seeing as we love to host celebrities here in the Yucatan. The article also points out that 30 people from nearby Piste were hired to carry stuff and were paid the daily minimum wage which is currently set at a generous 5 dollars a day.

Now you are up to speed on the latest celebrity sightings in the Yucatan. Didn’t this make your day more complete?

I thought so.

Pasta with Baked Salmon Cream Sauce

Since the Diario de Yucatan reports that Jorge Esma from Cultur is not saying a word about how the financial situation is after the Elton John concert, I thought I would post something completely unrelated and different. Even unexpected. It’s my recipe for the lunch I made at home today – spaghetti topped with salmon and cream.

Cook as much pasta as you want (this recipe is idea for 2-3 people) al dente or however soft or hard you like. There was this lady who used to keep leftover pasta in a Tupperware container in her fridge, soaking in water. Really. Whenever she felt like pasta, there it was! Just reheat and serve. If you do this also, take it out of the fridge and throw it away, for gods sake and make some up fresh!!

As the pasta is cooking, finely chop half an onion and two garlic cloves. If you are lazy like me you can now buy chopped garlic at an upscale supermarket like Superama where only the salchichoneria staff are as unfriendly and overly familiar as they are in any other supermarket. The rest of the staff is more or less friendly and helpful.

Throw the chopped onions and garlic into some olive oil in a pan and simmer over low heat. In the Yucatan, you are using a gas stove instead of one of those horrendous electric jobs they sell you in Canada or the USA; gas is the way to go if you want better control over your heat. Unless of course the brand is Mabe, which in my house is synonymous with absolute crap; if you turn the flame down to simmer those onions and garlic, you will be driven mad by the ‘tick tick tick’ sound it will continually make until the heat is back up to full power. That’s the spark/igniter doing it’s thing and, well these aren’t Viking stoves, people.

While the pasta and the onions are doing their thing, get some of those great Kalamata olives you can now find at Costco, already pitted and full of real flavor. Use about a handful, and chop ’em up and throw those in with the garlic and onions. Check the pasta while you’re at it.

Two tomatoes, also chopped, can then be added to the sauteing goodness in that pan. Stir it up a little to mix everything and ensure nothing is burning.

Remember that salmon you made yesterday? The one from Costco, a whole half fresh salmon. You roasted it in the oven at 180 degrees (C) with Montreal Steak Seasoning on it and didn’t finish it, remember? Well take a chunk of that from your fridge; about the size of a large hand, and with a fork or whatever’s handy, break off bite size pieces and throw them and all those little pieces that break off, in the onion/garlic/olive/tomato mixture and continue over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Don’t over cook that pasta. Strain ‘n’ Drain when ready and cover while you finish the sauce.

To the simmering salmon, add a half container of fresh cream. By fresh I mean not the canned variety. Alpura makes the best dairy products, from yogurt (also spelled here as yoghurt, yoghur, yoghurth, yogurth, among others) to milk to butter to cream. Speaking of dairy products, one of my favorite awful names for cheese is a brand called Gonela. What does THAT name conjure up in your mind? Anyway, stir it up until it mixes nicely and acquires some consistency. Add salt if you wish.

Serve pasta in bowls and spoon over the salmon cream mixture. Enjoy!

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

Ahh yes. Sir Elton John is at Chichen Itzá tonight.

I didn’t go – and I am thinking that I should have gone, to get a first hand account of what goes on at one of these fund-raising events – to what will undoubtedly be a very interesting night, for various reasons:

1. I have had the fortune to see Elton John in concert up close and personal in Vegas, where he was filling in for Celine Dion when she went on a month-long break from her stint at Caesar’s Palace. He is a great performer and with all those hits, you can’t go wrong. So I didn’t need to actually see him again.

2. The prices were through the roof, IMHO.

3. The whole Chichen Itzá as a Sala de Fiestas concept, which I am not a fan of. Besides the possible damage (or not) caused to the site by all those trampling feet and the vibrations or whatever some people are saying, the fact that the site is being used for commercial purposes like this one when there is no benefit to the Yucatecan taxpayer or average citizen.

4. The idea that Elton can come and play and the story about the Mayan elders who can not perform their ceremonies there, probably because no one can make a buck off of them. Seems a little strange to this neurotic foreigner.

5. An abhorrence for crowds and dubious organizational skills as relayed to me by a friend who was at the Sarah Brightman concert. I guess all those volunteers who were recruited a week before the concert didn’t really have the training to handle crowds of this size.

So I am not going. But I look forward to the comments that will surely appear in tomorrow’s papers!

Volunteers needed for Elton John

As I mentioned earlier, Elton is on his way to Chichen Itzá, where he will perform April 3 under the auspices of the state government, Jorge Esma etc.

It seems that they are now ready to contract volunteers to help in the organization/running of the concert itself; I suspect these people will help direct people and cars and that sort of thing, in exchange for a view of the concert or Elton up close or even to shake Jorge Esmá’s hand which would be the best thing of all.

Tickets are still for sale, from $70 USD to $700 USD (seven HUNDRED dollars, yes) and there now young people, presumably volunteers also since there is no budget to pay these earnest youngsters, handing out leaflets at intersections in Merida’s fashionable north, where one supposes that those who could afford these ticket prices habitually circulate in their late model vehicles.

But, let’s not criticize; it’s all for the promotion of the state (people have probably forgotten about Chichen since the Seven Wonders thing) and tourism. Or is it?

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In a related-but-not-really note, there was a tiny ad in the Diario de Yucatan offering an excursion to see Elthon Jhon. I wonder if this is the same guy as Elton John or an imposter? It is normal for Yucatecans to add an H where there really isn’t a need for one, ie JanetH, WilbertH, YanetH, HumbertHo,  etc. but one would think that if you are going to promote this excursion you would probably have seen Eltons’ name SOMEwhere, no?

Elton John is Coming! (coming to the Yucatan)

Sorry about the headline if it threw you off there for a minute.

Since I wrote about Sarah Brightman and her concert at Chichen Itzá, I should probably do the same about Elton John. I only wish that I could announce that Sir Elton’s visit will result in a great increase in tourism which in turn will benefit someone other than a few officials.

In a few weeks – April 3 to be exact – Elton John will present a concert at the Mayan site of Chichen Itzá, supposedly to ‘promote Yucatan’ in some vague touristy sort of way. I am pretty sure that Yucatan is already on most people’s tourist maps and that the money paid to bring Eltom (as he is know locally) could be better used elsewhere.

But whatever. Who am I – a neurotic foreigner – to question the infinite wisdom of the sage decisions made by the higher-ups?

All that exposure will mean more people coming to the Yucatan and then wondering how the hell you can have such a huge tourist attraction as Chichen Itzá next to the dirt covered poverty of the nearby hamlet of Pisté, whose residents evidently receive little to no benefit of having this cash cow next to their village.

Welcome to LawsonsYucatan!

If you have found this then you are on the new William Lawson Yucatan site!

This will be the new repository for all things related to William Lawson and my take on life in the Yucatan, which dates from the NotTheNews days to the elmaloso blog to the Casual Restaurant Critic blog. This is over 10 years of writing about life here. Eventually, it will all be here.

The immediate priority is to get the theme (the look of this WordPress blog) working, and then transfer content from the other online areas and sites to ‘populate’ this one. Sort of a one-stop for all things related to the topic of life in Merida or Yucatan, from a neurotic foreigners point of view.

Comment at will and spread the word!