Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

May Day

June 24, 2008

Mayday! Mayday! May Day here in Mexico, and in most of the world, is Labor day. There is a pariah nation north of the border which presumes to know better, and so remains out of step, out of touch and out of time with the rest of us. We’re happy to leave them be, to drift off beyond the divide.

Now take a deeeep breeeaath……..and…..(We) Begin actual construction on the remodel project on the auspicous first of May, 2008. We had Alfredo the albanil and his son Marcos, digging out the back tab, where the pool will go. And, over the past century, where every bit of trash–organic and inorganic has been tossed. We’re surmising that the build-up of a soil-like substance mixed 1-3 with non-biodegradable debris was formed together in situ. We know that there were pigs back there at one time too, and so their refuse and remains would also be a part of the mix. A month or so ago, when we were doggedly picking out the glass piece by piece, we discovered a tile floor at the bottom way in the back corner. We harvested some of it, and will ask Alfredo to watch out for it next week.

We’ve hired an engineer/designer team, he being Yucatecan and she being an American retiree who was an art teacher in her former life, and continues to be an artist. She (Evalynne) is in the process of finishing up her second remodel, personally, and has a third under her belt for someone else, all of them with Raul. They will work for a 15% commission, allowing plenty of room for changes and re-considerations. Our first project with Raul and Evalynne will likely be the addition of the back patio roof, this giving us a largish outdoor living area, and significantly cooling the current back room of the house with it’s shade. Meantime, Alfredo will continue with his digging and screening, and when he’s finished with that, I’ll join in and learn how to build a stone wall. In two weeks or so, Felipe Ek and his crew will come and repair and reseal the roof, before the start of the rainy season, sometime in June.

The crew working next door has nearly completed their wall building. We share all but one short piece with them, and they have graciously built the whole thing, without asking us to pay our share. Of course they haven’t asked us for any other input either, though we gave it to them nonetheless. They have left us 10 cm on our side, to build up with stone or block, or simply to stucco and paint. They have an electric jackhammer, which has run continuously for 2 weeks now. They’re digging very slowly into the bedrock, which is about 45 cm below the surface, in an effort to go deep enough for a pool.. We plan to build ours up from wherever the bedrock falls, and backfill around it.

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the drive

May 5, 2008

Connie and i just got back from a trip to Soriana to buy a kiddie pool. We stopped at a panaderia on the way home. When I went in, there was still some daylight; when we got going again it was dark, but we were only a few blocks from home by then. The entire trip was probably 6 miles, and we went in the trike. I’ve begun to absently call it the car, since that’s how it gets used. We had to buy a small plastic chair, as well, so both Connie and the pool could fit. We put the pool in sideways, then crammed the chair in next to it. She had to crouch down and pull the top of the pool down over her head, so I could see enough to drive. We took a very long detour on the way, coming out a considerable distance away from where we thought we would, stumbling across another Soriana enroute. We made a strong effort to not repeat that mistake on the way home, as darkness was threatening and I, for one, was getting tired. This was by far the longest trip we’ve taken to date, in said vehicle.

edit

May 3, 2008

I noticed, while re-reading “The Warmest Day”, that i mis-labeled the golden rain tree.  It should be Cassia fistula, and I also failed to mention that the Pseudobombax down the street is blooming again.

Another cold day

March 24, 2008

Another cold and rainy day. We’re to have a high of 73 today. Frigid. After lunch, I’m going to take the clunker out for a ride. It’s great weather for that. The Lysiloma trees are blooming, and at the same time dropping seeds from the last time. The dry pods clatter loudly in the wind. Avocadoes are blooming, not yet blooming and setting fruit all over town. I saw my first carambola tree this morning. Mangoes are setting fruit, ripening fruit and dropping overripe fruit. Golden rain trees (Cassia fistula, and while we’re on the subject of Cassia, I also saw some C. alata and C. grandis blooming in the past few days) are ripening seeds by the bundle.  I saw one branch of one tree with blooms on it.  Those Cassia grandis (bukut in Belize) are dwarfed both in stature and in the size of the flower.  Guanacaste trees around town are loaded up with green pods. Tamarind trees appear to be constantly full of ripe fruit. I heard red lored parrots calling a couple days ago, as I was out riding to or from the Merida Mens Club breakfast. Everywhere I go, I find myself to be the youngest one, by a good many years. I guess most folks don’t retire at 49. Fewer still at 23.

The whole city is virtually shut down, for the two weeks around Easter. Everybody goes to the beach where, I hear, things are really hopping.

sanding and painting

March 12, 2008

I put the first coat of primer on the fork, on Saturday. I have to say I was disappointed to find the paint was grey, even though the cap was distinctly black. I wanted to see how it looked in flat black, because that’s the way I’d like to paint the whole bike. A couple years ago, Giant Bicycles had a comfort bike, a Cypress, I believe with a matte black finish which was wildly popular, so much so that I had to settle for a grey/black combo on mine. Black, in the past few years, has made a significant move to replace green as my favorite color for a vehicle. I’ve been considering adding a highlight or two in a dark sage green, in an effort to avoid going overboard in the black department. Also because I think it would look nice.

It’s odd

February 23, 2008

It’s odd how there was always something to write about down in the rainforest. What’s blooming; what’s the river doing, etc. Here that doesn’t seem to be so, and so far it’s a struggle to keep the writing going. But I want to keep it going, so I guess I’ll just write what comes out. Many trees are blooming and getting new leaves, but I know very few of them. The unknown tree in the back yard is now fully re-leafed and is providing very nice shade as we move into the hot season. Erythrina sp. are blooming, as are the ceibas (both species). Actually they’re not blooming, but producing their cotton and seeds. Tropical cedar is ripening it’s seeds as well, and guanacastes are full of green seeds. Guanacaste trees are allowed to grow large and right out in the street, in many cases. For some reason they are not cut, it seems. Cochlospermum vitifolium is blooming too, one of my favorite early dry season trees. Ziricotes are blooming profusely, with their pleasant orange flowers. There is a Bombax elipticum tree down the street, with blooms similar to provision tree. It’s a new one for me. And just this morning, while walking China, I say a bay cedar with fruit. And many others, mostly shrubs, which I don’t know yet. Last Sunday at Dzibilchaltun, I saw a beautiful, striking purple flower, in clumps, growing on a vine. I’m guessing it might be a Thunbergia of some sort. On the way back, I pulled into the puebla of Xanacatan, to get out of the wind. The village sticks in my mind for it’s radish fields.

Pages 303 to 308 from volume 2 of Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John L. Stephens:
Aké  (I should mention here, that J.P. Stephens ‘discovered’ Ake’ in the nineteenth century)

The next morning we started for Merida, with the intention of diverging for a last time to visit the ruins of Aké. The road was one of the best in the country, made for carriages, but rough, stony, and uninteresting. At Cacalchen, five leagues distant, we stopped to dine and procure a guide to Aké. In the afternoon we proceeded, taking with us only our hammocks, and leaving Dimas to go on direct with our luggage to Merida. Turning off immediately from the main road, we entered the woods, and following a narrow path, a little before dark we reached the hacienda of Aké, and for the last time were among the towering and colossal memorials of an aboriginal city. The hacienda was the property of the Conde Peon, and contrary to our expectancies, it was small, neglected, in a ruinous condition, and extremely destitute of all kinds of supplies. We could not procure even eggs, literally nothing but tortillas. The major domo was away, the principal building locked up, and the only shelter we could obtain was a miserable little hut, full of fleas, which no sweeping could clear out. We had considered all our rough work over, but again, and within day’s journey of Merida, we were in bad straights. By great ingenuity, and giving them the shortest possible tie, Albino contrived to swing our hammocks and having no other resource, early in the evening we fell into them. At about ten o’clock we heard the tramp of a horse, and the major domo arrived. Surprised to find such unexpected visitors, but glad to see them, he unlocked the hacienda, and we walking out in our winding sheets, we took possession; our hammocks followed, and we were hung up anew. In the morning he provided us with breakfast, after which, accompanied by him and all the Indians of the hacienda, being only six, we went around the ruins. Plate LII represents a great mound towering in full sight from the door of the hacienda, and called El Palacio, or the Palace. The ascent is on the south side, by an immense staircase, one hundred and thirty seven feet wide, forming an approach of rude grandeur, perhaps equal to any that ever existed in the country. Each step is four feet five inches long, and one foot five inches in height. The platform on the top is two hundred and twenty-five feet in length, and fifty in breath. On the great platform stand thirty-six shafts of columns, in three parallel rows of twelve, about ten feet apart from north to south, and fifteen feet from east to west. They are from fourteen to sixteen feet in height, four feet on each side, and are composed of separate stones, from one to two feet in thickness. But few have fallen, though some have lost their upper layer of stones. There are no remains of any structure or of a roof. If there ever was one, it must have been wood, which would seem most incongruous and inappropriate for such a solid structure of stones. The whole mound was so overgrown that we could not ascertain the juxtaposition of the pillars till the growth was cleared away, when we made our whole, but with little or no enlargement of our knowledge as to its uses and purposes. It was a new and extraordinary feature, entirely different from any we had ever seen, and at the very end of our journey, when we supposed ourselves familiar with the character of American ruins, threw over them a new air of mystery.Plate LII
In the same vicinity are other mounds of colossal dimensions, one of which is also called the Palace, but of different construction and without pillars. On another, at the end of the ruined staircase, is an opening under the top of a doorway, nearly filled up, crawling through which, by means of the crotch of a tree I descended into a dark chamber fifteen feet long and ten wide, of rude construction, and of which some of the stones in the wall measured seven feet in length. This is called Akabna, casa obscura or dark house. Near this is a senote, with the remains of steps leading down to water, which supplied the ancient city. The ruins cover a great extent, but all were overgrown, and in a condition too ruinous to be presented in a dawning. They were ruder and more massive than all the others we had seen, bore the stamp of an older era, and more than any others, in fact, for the first time in the country, suggested the idea of Cyclopean remains; but ever here we have a gleam of historic light, faint, it is true, but, in my mind, sufficient to dispel all unsettled and wavering notions. In the account of the march of Don Francisco Montejo from the coast, presented in the early part of these pages, it is mentioned that the Spanish reached a town called Aké, at which they found themselves confronted by a great multitude of armed Indians. A desperate battle ensued, which lasted two days, and in which the Spanish were victorious, but gained no easy triumph. There is no other mention of Aké, and in this there is no allusion whatever to the buildings, but from its geographical position, and the direction of the line of march of the Spanish army from the coast, I have little doubt that their Aké was the place now known by the same name, and occupied by the ruins last presented. It is, indeed, strange that no mention is made of the buildings, but regard must be had to the circumstances of danger and death which surrounded the Spaniards, and which were doubtless always uppermost in the minds of the soldiers who formed that disastrous expedition. At all events, it is not more strange than want of any description of great buildings of Chichen, and we have the strongest possible proof that no current inference is to be drawn from the silence of the Spaniards, for in the comparatively minute account of the conquest of Mexico, we find that the Spanish army marched under the very shadow of great pyramids of Otumba, and yet not the slightest mention whatever is made of their existence.

The above italicized passage, I took from my favorite blog, Bicycle Yucatan, which is the impetus for my wishing to go to Ake’. My bike doesn’t fold, as theirs do, so I have to confine myself, for the moment anyway, to what I can do in one day, there and back again. This trip is well within that range.

eclipse

February 23, 2008

The lunar eclipse is in process and so it seems like a good time to finally start this thing. I’ve been having trouble getting to my journal since we’ve been in Merida, and I don’t want to lose touch with it. I thought this might be a good way to keep my writing moving along. We’ll see.

I’ve taken up birding and biking tours on Sundays. Two Sundays ago I rode the 3o miles to Sisal, ate lunch and rode back into a stiff westerly headwind. I stopped to rest in Ucu puebla, and watched a couple innings of a baseball game. The birding was very good around Sisal, as there is a large wetland buffering the coast. I didn’t have time to do much birding though, as the ride was so long. This past Sunday I intended going to the little known ruin of Ake’, but didn’t want to go so far without a spare tube, so I returned to the Dzibilchaltun ruins instead, just 10 kilometers out of the city. I’d been there a couple weeks earlier, on an overcast, relatively cool day and the birding was excellent. This time though, it was quite hot and quite windy and there were no birds to be seen. This time I rode back to town into a gale force southerly wind. I’m not complaining though, as both times it was a great workout, though not terribly pleasant riding. But if great workouts were always pleasant, the world would be free of obesity. This week I plan to go to Ake’, having picked up an extra tube yesterday. That will take me West, and maybe the wind will be coming stiffly from the East on my return.

Connie’s sister, Kathy, was here for a few hours today, seeing the house she bought for the first time. She’s back on the cruise ship now, heading for Cozumel.

Hopefully I will get up on the roof tomorrow, for my second stint at cleaning the mold off of it with the pressure washer, in preparation for repairing and sealing it.

The water coming in through the water meter is very low volume and pressure, so all the houses have tanks on the roof. The water trickles into these tanks and then gravity feeds into the house. In order for the pressure washer to work, it has to receive water at some pressure, so it can then pressurize it further. With a gravity feed system, there is no way to accomplish this on the roof. So I got out my trusty solar panel and 12 volt pump, and draw the water directly from the tanks. The system works very well while the sun is shining (between clouds).

Hello world!

February 17, 2008

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