----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mexico: A Belated Merry Christmas from Merida!

So, Christmas in Merida! I went to Burger King, and treated myself to a half pint of Neopolitan ice cream.

Some of the people in the hostel were talking about what is different about Christmas here. A woman from Australia was really impressed with all the lights, especially the ones which hang over the streets in the center of town. She thought they were uniquely Mexican. I let her go on thinking that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mexio: Hanging in Isla

I've discovered that blog entries are much easier to do when you are doing nothing. My days in Isla Mujeres were filled. Filled with things like chatting to Moses the Texan, who owns the book exchange in the purple house, enjoying the '50 pesos for 2' margaritas at the beach (13 pesos to the dollar mind you), turning brown, eating hummus and pita bread at Manana (owned, as I was often told, by an Italian Jew - I don't think anyone knew there was such a thing). I also put in a considerable amount of time at hostel, talking to people, reading, eating, and taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

Another really important activity was getting lost. The tourist area in Isla is tiny, yet I managed to get confused nearly every day. I think I tend to orient myself to the water. So, if I am facing the water, that restaurant is on the left, and the hostel is behind me. On Isla Mujeres, I was staying at the top end, and there was water on three sides, which was disorienting.

Add the fact that most of the shops are souvenir shops and pretty much look alike, and I get to demonstrate repeatedly that I am truly directionally challenged.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mexico: Isla Mujeres At Last

When I got to Isla Mujeres, all I wanted to do was sleep, and all I did was sleep. I didn't even want to eat. I'd had a bad getaway from the US, and had been awake for close to forty hours when I stumbled out of the shower and into my dorm bed.

Of course I didn't get packed when I thought I would, so it was well after dark when I stopped at the gas station just a few doors down from the place where I store my car. I went inside to ask if I could put a small bag of trash in their dumpster, and to look up the number of a taxi company. I mentioned where I was leaving my car, and that I thought I'd walk back and call a taxi from their place.

The husband and wife who staff the place were horrified. They pointed out the two cop cars sitting at one of their exits, noses pointed out to 34th street. I had assumed they were looking for speeders and people jumping red lights. Uh, uh. The couple had called the police because they had seen a man holding a gun, running down the street chasing another man.

I made an instant revision to my plan and called the taxi to pick me up from my car, right there in the lot.

Between that and my 3 am wake up call for my 3:45 am shuttle for my 6 am flight, I got no sleep at all. I didn't nap on the flight to Atlanta. I got about fifteen minutes on the flight to Cancun, which had been delayed an hour. Then there was the long shuttle bus ride, and the wait for the ferry.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to walk with my pack, so I hired a guy with a bicycle cart to haul the bag. I followed him for a while. He had to walk the bike, because I was so slow he couldn't get up enough momentum to keep going. Finally, I was so tired I climbed in the cart and rode with my bags.

Then at last, cleanliness and sleep. I arrived on Thursday. I didn't get to the beach until Saturday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

USA: Plantation Houses

I have a thing for old houses. I love to tour them, even though I must admit that they sometimes get repetitious. Most are either from the Revolutionary War period or Civil War era plantations, so styles tend to be similar.

I'm always struck by how small most of the places are. Many plantation houses bear no resemblance whatsoever to Tara or the other homes depicted in Gone With the Wind. They have more in common with farmhouses than grand estates.

Preserved plantation houses tend to occur in clusters, like the string that runs along the James River in Virginia. Shirley Plantation is one of those, surprisingly small, but unusual in that it is still occupied and is still operated as a working farm. The farm is the oldest continuously operating business in the United States. Maybe that is why it didn't seem particularly old, even though it predates some of the other mansions that seem like a true step into the past.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

USA: Other Stops Along the Way

Another sign along the interstate in Connecticutt pointed me to Nathan Hale's homestead. Nathan Hale acted as a spy for the Americans during the Revolutionary War, was caught by the British, and hanged. He said, we are taught, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." At this stop I learned two things. He said 'lose'. And it wasn't original. It was a quote from the classics, Cicero, I think.

Apparently a lot of what has been passed down as wisdom from our founding fathers was really wisdom from the Greeks and Romans. Because the leaders of the revolution had all had good classical educations, they were accustomed to quoting freely, without attribution, because everyone they conversed or corresponded with would recognize the quotes. Of course, they were read and heard by a lot of people without the same education, and attibuted as original to them. And then education veered from the standard that everyone read the Greeks and Romans.

It was kind of disappointing.