Thursday, May 10, 2007

day eight: muna, motorcycle rickshaws, iced coffee

I was feeling the late night when I got up - we had an early morning, because we had to leave at 8 to catch the 9 bus to Muna. We took the equivalent of Acadian lines - semi-expensive long distance public buses - and the terminal was about ten blocks away, which is a hike when it´s that early in the morning. I slept sitting up most of the way to the town.
We arrived at the central market of Muna, which was mainly taken up with local vegetable merchants, but also some food kiosks and some craft kiosks, including a table of incredibly beautiful, utterly authentic embroidered huipils; the catches were that they weren´t entirely finished into garments, presumably so you could fit it properly, and also they were on the expensive side - but for a really handmade huipil, that´s to be expected. I had a couple of salbutes from a vendor, which were possibly the best yet; they were made with ground pork instead of shredded, and I had some piquante (fresh hot sauce made of chopped hot peppers and tomatos) with them. Very, very nice. On Heather´s advice I also got a little block of gummy tamarind candy, made from the pulp of a sweet bean type fruit that grows here, which was sticky but pretty good.
Our first stop was the house of a wood carver who carves symbols from Maya glyphs and pottery in oak. He had a beautiful carving of a vision serpent that I wish cost less than $80 - I´m pretty fond of the image of the vision serpent coming up from the bowl of paper strips. He also lived in a traditional thatch house, and talked to us (through our local guide, a Quebecois named Eduardo) about the technique of thatching, and the materials. He had a nice niche of images of Christ and Mary, as well as at least three creches - home shrines are pretty common, I gather.
As we were gathering outside to carry on, I sat in the shade on a curb, next to an elderly Maya woman, who proceeded to talk at me for five minutes straight in Spanish without really caring that I wasn´t understanding - all about la casa loca and expensive hospitals. I have no idea.

(the hut, our guide Eduardo, and the old woman)

We made a brief stop outside a small Fransican church that was unforunately closed, but Eduardo told us that the icon of the saint is generally prayed to by the neighbourhood. When the rains fail, however, they punish the icon and go out to the cornfields to do traditional sacrifices to Chaac - the attitude seems to be to do whatever works!
Our next stop was the house of Theresa, the hammock weaver. She was a bit overwhelmed by our numbers, which is unfortunate because we wanted to talk to her about her craft for our project, but we did take pictures of her loom and the work in progress.

We did have a piece of luck on the way back to the square, though - we passed a house where Eduardo had friends, and there was an old woman embroidering a huipil who was only too happy to let us photograph the work in progress (a lot of traditional people here are shy about pictures, so we are pretty limited that way).

She also called out her daughter, who handpaints huipils, and she showed us her work too.

To get to our final stop, we took tricycle and motorcycle rickshaws from the main square. On the way there, Anne and I took a tricycle one, which has two wheels in front supporting the seating area, and then the driver behind. A very fun way to travel.

Our last stop was a pottery workshop where they make very accurate reproductions of ancient Maya pottery for museums using the same ingrediants - for example, black seeds that are ground for the black colour in the slip. I took quite a few pictures.

We went to the back, where they have a surprisingly large restaurant on the same property, and had some limonada before heading back to the square.
I hopped in a motorcycle rickshaw on the way back, which was not as quiet but certainly faster than the tricycle, and as soon as we go to the square, a group of us ran to catch an express minibus back to Merida. Not everyone was back from the workshop yet, but we almost filled the bus; there was just enough room for two Mexican guys to squish in, which must have been unpleasant for them, because most of the group played a game called Mafia the whole way back, which has a tendancy to get loud.
I was starting to get tired of the limitations of having to go around in large groups, and kind of grumpy in general, so when we got back, Heather and I went to a not-very-Mexican restaurant for supper - the Italian Coffee Co, which is more or less a Starbucks. A caramel frappe and an enormous Mexican panini (spicy pork with avacado) put me back in a very good mood. It was interesting ordering - I hadn´t realized that almost every meal I´ve had here was with Spanish speakers like Anne and Mary, so it was far more awkward this time. We learned how to say "to go" from the waitress, who was pretty amused at our horrible Spanglish.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we met Will, Amanda, and a few others who were on their way out to supper; we went with them for something to do, and ended up on the same balcony Anne and I ate at the night before. I introduced everyone else to the sangria, and Will bought an order of guacamole to split between those of us not eating full meals (only two people were really hungry). It was a good time.
After we got back to the hotel, we did our Spanish homework, which took maybe five minutes, and then Will and I went back out with Mitch, Fraser and Kim to the Mayan Pub. Going to the Mayan with Kim is always an adventure, because she has managed to befriend all the regulars already, so we end up sitting with Mexican musicians every time. I chatted for a long time with a biology student who had excellent English and a really good knowledge of the interaction between ecology and archaeology, but the conversation sort of fell apart after I told him I have a boyfriend (isn´t that always the way) so Will and I headed back to the hotel to gossip for a bit before turning in.


Blogger dp said...

What an adventure. I love reading about all this stuff... and I am glad you have a safety net...Sean. keeps my kid safe.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Spindlethin said...

ah, ruining fun from afar... it's what I do :)

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Krista said...

This is great info to know.

6:30 PM  

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