Tuesday, May 08, 2007

day six: domingo market, uxmal, hacienda

I managed to sleep until 9 in the morning, probably because the traffic is a lot less on Sundays. We had coffee, orange juice and toast at the hotel, and I put more aloe on my Dzibilchultun sunburns (my poor shoulders!).
Anne, Heather and myself headed out to the Sunday morning fairs. There were a lot of vendors selling Merida huipils (blouses) and I got my first taste of haggling - I argued an old Maya woman down to 200 pesos from 380 for a flowy indigo blouse (very touristy, not really traditional, but I like the style and it´s the first one I saw in non-popsicle colours).
We found Laura eventually and arranged to go to her house to see her studio where she designs huipil embroidery. She has two sweet daughters; the younger one hid under the table from me.
Lunch was a piece of Hawaiian pizza from a vendor for me and Heather, and a tamale for Anne, and we ate on the run trying to get back to the hotel to meet everyone and hop the bus to Uxmal.
We had a new tour guide for this trip, Serjio, who turned out to be equal parts tour guide and comedian:

"Do you speak Spanish? Ah, si, no problem, I speak only the best broken English, the best Spanglish in Mexico... You are very lucky. Eddie, your driver, he is the best driver in the country. He even has a driver´s license! A real one!"

Uxmal was about an hour´s drive away. It´s famous as a city that was abandoned many times because of the water supply issues in the area. The name means ¨built three times", but it probably had more occupation periods than that.
The architecture is beautiful, probably the most intricate I´ve seen, with amazingly well preserved facades. My favourite buildings were the Magician´s Pyramid and the Nunnery Quadrangle; the former even has a kitschy little tour guide story to go with it:

A white magic witch lived in the city of Uxmal, and as witches are wont to do, laid an egg instead of having a normal baby. The egg hatched into a deformed dwarf, who was very clever and became popular amongst the people of the city. The king, growing jealous of the dwarf´s popularity, challenged him to a series of contests; in the end, the dwarf won through cleverness, and the people killed the king and set the dwarf up as king instead.

(Will and the Magician´s Pyramid; also shown, left to right, Christiane, Mary and Mitch)

I also climbed halfway up the Great Pyramid before getting vertigo, and walked around the Governor´s Palace, and a fertility temple with stone turtles on it (water creatures were often symbols of fertility).

(Hiding in the shade of the turtle temple - they´re the round things around the top)

(the Nunnery Quandrangle, with the Magician´s Pyramid behind it)

(a facade in the Nunnery Quandrangle, with Mitch trying to take a closeup)

I got lots of pictures of the Chaac masks in the facades; he´s the major decorative element, being the deity of rain in an area where rain is almost the only water they get (they had no cenote).

(a Chaac mask; you can see his eyes and mouth, but his characteristic elephant trunk nose has been broken off)

(a sacrifice to Chaac; you can see his tied hands)

After Uxmal, we bussed to a nearby hacienda (a sort of luxury hotel) for swimming and sunning poolside, and then a buffet supper, at which I stuffed myself with sopa de lima and frijoles and vegetables prepared the same way we had them all the time in the jungle.

(Heather and Anne sunning at the hacienda)

(the hacienda and the pool)

After supper, we went back to Uxmal for the sound and light show they put on at night. We sat on the high point of the Nunnery Quadrangle and watched the coloured lights; the lighting from underneath reveals a lot about the facades that is hard to make out during the day, and the site is creepily impressive at night. The sound portion of the presentation was a sort of radio play in Spanish about a princess of Uxmal - it was the usual sort of tour guide tripe, bu it didn´t really detract for us because we couldn´t understand more than five words. Mary was pretty annoyed with it, though.
When we got back, I almost crashed immediately, but felt better after a shower and went out with Dave, Oranges, Katelyn and Kim to the Mayan Pub for nachos (the best ever, possibly even better than the Fox) and drinks. I ordered a drink off the mixed drinks menu called a Sacraficio Maya, which I assumed would be something like a daiquiri; what arrived, however, was a flaming shot of anise liquor. You live, you learn, I guess.


Blogger dp said...

The pics are awesome. What...no mention of the AWARD.... of course not. You just wouldn't...but a mom has to brag... Stephanie won the Dr. Leonard Campbell Smith Memorial Prize for Ancient History from UNB and was just informed today via email. How fun is that. Who knows what the award is and who the Dr. guy is, but she does get to go to the Dean's Dinner in the fall to receive her award. Way to go Stephanie....
Sorry Stephanie, but a mom has to brag....

8:08 PM  
Blogger mickermoodles said...

Haha nachos better than the fox?? never! Sounds liek you are having a blast, keep up with the pictures they are awesome! Can't wait to hear all about it when you are home! Oh yeah, and yesterday it was a scorching 28 degrees in Greenwood!

9:31 AM  
Blogger S said...

I wasn´t going to mention the prize yet because I´m not to that day yet. I´ve just found out that it´s just short of $300 (it´s the interest from a fund of some sort, so it varies according to interest rates). Mostly I´m excited for the dinner and the addition to my CV though.

10:13 AM  

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