The Treasures of Oaxaca…

Day Six (08/14)

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Casa Benito Juarez

A visit to the Casa de Benito Juarez was on our list. The house is located just down the street from the Casa Catrina hotel. It had most of the original furnishings and a room full of printing presses where they printed flyers as part of the revolution.

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The Study

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The Dining Room

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Kitchen work area

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Printing Presses

We also visited the Textile Museum, which was excellent, but they didn’t allow any photographing. However, here is a sneak peek. They had just opened so we were almost alone. The displays were done beautifully.

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From the museum, we went shopping. It was time to make a purchase that would remind us of our visit to Oaxaca. I wanted a new shirt that was typical of some of the fine textile patterns and colors found in this region. We both ended up finding just the right choice for our personal taste.

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My Shirt

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John’s Choice

John was set on having a new look to our bedroom so we found an excellent shop located on one of the side streets. They had napkins, table coverings, placemats, bed spreads, and of course pillow shams. As you can see, placemats and pillow shams came back with us. Pastels and natural cotton colors were our selection.

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King Pillow Shams

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Placemats

Dinner on the 14th was at Gozobi Restaurant and bar…where else but the roof-top. By now I was getting the hang of climbing stairs. My concept (Take your time and you will eventually get there).

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This terrace filled up quickly with an early dinner crowd.

As we listened to live guitar music far above the street, the twilight crept slowly over the hills. Two margaritas for me, two beers for John and we shared a bowl of guacamole as the darkness of night slowly descended on Oaxaca.

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There was only one size guacamole – Big.

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John had Ravoles con Picadillo in a cream sauce

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I ordered the Suprema de Pollo con Quesos with local squash

All total, dinner came to $760 MX. The exchange rate was running about $20 pesos to the US dollar.

Day Seven (08-15)

In 1987 we stayed at the El Presidente Hotel at #300 -5 de Mayo.

It is now a member of the Quinta Real national hotel chain. However, before it was a hotel it was a convent. It hadn’t changed that much, except it is now very expensive to stay there compared to 1987 prices.

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Where the nuns did their laundry

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There was not a single person at the pool on a warm day…humm.

Our large room in those days was on the second level and had a window that looked into the main nave of the chapel. We also had a nice view of the swimming pool. Everyone on staff was efficient, friendly, and very helpful 30 years ago.

But the atmosphere was different this time around. There was an air of snobbishness and a feeling of class separation.

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Interior restaurant courtyard view

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John is waiting for his beet salad

We enjoyed a nice lunch by one of the garden courtyards. Although, the service was slow and the staff appeared very aloof, we still managed to enjoy ourselves and remember when.

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Sliced beet and cheese salad with peanuts and Balsamic dressing

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My Cheese Platter (Large enough for four) with roquefort, camembert, smoked gouda, goat cheese balls, Oaxacan string cheese, mozzarella,  olives, sundried tomatoes and triangles of wheat toast.

The Rufino Tamayo Museum

Museums have always fascinated us with their connections to the past and the way that people lived long before our time. To see how they represented their life through artistic design and décor offers a glimpse of past humanity. Their pottery, their clothing (or the lack there of), the tools they used and the accessories they wore, are all a part of these fantastic and educational collections.

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The magnificent Pre-Columbian art collection at the Rufino Tamayo Museum reminded us of the days when we used to live with Proctor Stafford, a collector of Pre-Columbian art, at his Tuscan villa in the Outpost Estates in Los Angeles. We used to dust off many of his rotating works of art scattered throughout the house. The LA County Museum of Art inherited most of his huge collection.

 

Stone bowls and carved stone figures

 

Carved heads and a collection of dogs

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The Colima Dog

However, one particular Colima Dog made its way to a gallery in Santa Fe. Here is a twin.

We spotted the dog in the window of the gallery on Canyon Road years ago and asked the proprietor if it was from the Stafford collection. She was surprised that we recognized the dog and knew Mr. Stafford. At $8,000, we refrained from purchasing the dog, but patted him on the head and wished him a happy home.

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A life-size anatomically correct figure amazingly preserved

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Mysterious and haunting eyes of the life-size face carved in stone

The museum collection was displayed in well lighted and colorful cases. We had formed a great appreciation for these pieces of history having been acquainted with pieces just like them on a daily bases for three years. (1973-1976)

The Museum of Contemporary Art de Oaxaca.

Hours: Open Mon. thru Sat. at 10 am                                                          Closed on Tuesdays – Open Sunday at 11 am to 3 pm.

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The Lion Fountain at Rufino Tamayo Museum

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Painted plywood cutout artistic sculptures

 

The charming entry garden with its fountain of lions and lush tropical plantings made an excellent place to relax and organize our self-guided tour. Our INAPAM senior cards came in handy for free entry at most all of the museums.

A sampling of creative contemporary art.

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A bicycle built for two

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A tribal jungle scene??  Your guess is as good as mine.

We returned on our final evening to the same restaurant where we had dined on the first evening. Once again, we were the only table in the charming courtyard by the fountain. Our waiter remembered we liked the L.A. Cetto Nebbiola  PV wine, and the guitarist was in good form that evening. We shared a Cesar salad for two, which the waiter prepared at our tableside. According to John (the chef) the “petit cinema” was perfectly executed with all the right ingredients (mashed anchovies included). We both had the Camerones Coco on the stalk of rosemary with a large slice of pineapple. ($1500 MX) total. No postre (dessert) was needed.

The hotel arranged for a taxi pick up the following morning and by 8:40 am we were winging our way back to Merida on Volaris Airlines; contented as two little mice with a wheel of good cheese.

That rounds out the last post on Oaxaca and the end of our visit to another area of enchantment in southern Mexico. We didn’t venture out of the city, but there are many places to go and things to see not far out of town.

The Monte Alban Ruins

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The textile rug weavers in Mitla:

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The women tend to the sheep, spin and dye the wool.

The men do most of the rug weaving

 

images (12)  A sample of textile patterns in stone.

And much, much more. The state of Oaxaca is located on the western coast of southern Mexico.

Our next trip…Valladolid for New Year’s Eve.

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D.G. Heath – Author and spouse John Johnson (1994)

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DSCN3058   ( 2019 )

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

A Person of Interest – Accent – Vortex

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

 

Coming this fall: 2019

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

The Viper’s Nest – Accidentally Complicit

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

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Oaxaca Dining Delights…

Day Three (08-11)

Sunday night we walked a short half block to El Escapulario, a small local eatery on the corner at 617 Garcia Vigil (upstairs of course), to try some real down-home local cooking. Mamasita was in in charge of everything. She seated us, took our orders, delivered them, and bussed the table as we were leaving. I have a feeling that her daughter or papa were in the kitchen following instructions. Quite a delightful señoria.

We started with Chili Rellenos stuffed with picadillo, followed with a Molé Verde over baby pork riblets. Outstanding! Our corner window table afforded us a view of the approaching rain clouds, but we made it back to our hotel just before the first drops started to wet the sidewalk. The rain pitter pattered and a cool breeze made for an excellent nights rest.

Naturally, we had not taken my camera or an umbrella to dinner. It rained almost every day for an hour or so (usually during siesta time), bringing the temperatures down in the early evenings to the mid-60s. Sweater or long sleeve shirt weather for those of us from the Yucatan. Remember, it’s still August.

Day Four (08-12)

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On Monday, we stopped for lunch at La Cafeteria del Jardin, a sidewalk café on the main plaza, which is also the lower part of the Bistro Oyster Bar upstairs. Hamburger, French fries, and pasta with a beer and agua mineral were typical café orders. Here we were entertained first by two marimba players who carried around and set up their beautiful wood instrument right on the plaza in front of our table – Most enjoyable and talented musicians. There was a European flare about the whole scene.

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It was a leisure lunch and before long we had some flute and guitar players adding to our sidewalk concert. We could hear but not see them because of the crowd that gathered around them to listen.

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Heading back to the hotel, we discovered the Restaurante Catedral at 105 Garcia Vigil with a beautiful display of orchids in the entry and a charming fountain bubbling away in a small interior courtyard, part of the larger facility. We made reservations for dinner that evening. How could we possibly even think of dinner after our hamburger and pasta lunch, you ask? It’s our vacation ritual – Decide at breakfast where you want to have lunch – decide at lunch where you’re going to have dinner, etc., etc.. After all, when you’re sightseeing, food is necessary to keep you on the go.

 

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Soft guitar music greeted us on arrival for dinner. Several tables with families were already dining. Our reserved corner table, in the courtyard by the fountain, offered us a view of the entire room. We each ordered a Tamal Elote (a sweet corn tamale) appetizer with cream-fresh and a white Oaxaca cheese ($75 MX ea.). John’s entrée was a Chichilo in a negro mole sauce – a large portion of boneless pork ribs, served with tempura fried green beans, potato squares and steamed chayote ($260 MX).

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Johns entrée

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My Shrimp entrée (two are already missing). I was hungry.

I had the Cameron Salteado (sautéed butterflied shrimp in a delicious garlic butter) topped with nasturtiums flowers, served with local squash and baked tomatoes ($290 MX). Of course, we had a bottle of our favorite L.A. Nebbiolo – PR wine.

I used to think that higher altitudes made people hungry and sleepy. However, I’ve since learned that people tend to eat less when traveling at higher altitudes than they are used to. Also, that alcohol tends to go to the head much quicker. It’s true that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  LOL

Time for a good night’s rest.

Day five, Aug 13th

It was about time for dining alfresco even though the evenings were a bit cool, they were also very beautiful. The Restaurante La Olla was just what the tour guides ordered. Full of local young people and several Asian tourist (and of course, as predicted – upstairs… three narrow flights), but the sunset views made it worth it.

 

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Our table was next to the parapet overlooking a flowering orchid tree in a blaze of fuchsia color, visited by hummingbirds and butterflies.

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We had a distant view of the twin bell-tower domes at the Church of Santo Domingo.

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The perfect setting and time of day for a margarita as we shared a huge order of guacamole and chips.

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John had a Tlayuda Traditional and I had a Tamal Oaxaqueno. We enjoyed a bottle of Monte Xanic Mexican Chardonnay ($500 MX).

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After a cappuccino and a mamey panna cotta, it was time to call it a night.

An artistic twist with history and art will complete the story on Oaxaca. We are drawn to museums and art when on an adventure and I’m delighted to share these photos with you.

Ciao,

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

A Person of Interest – Accent – Vortex

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall: 2019

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

The Viper’s Nest – Accidentally Complicit

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

 

Get me to the church on time…

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The Church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Santo Domingo is a Baroque ecclesiastical complex including a magnificent sanctuary and an extensive design of courtyards, cloisters, stone arches, terraces and rooms that were formerly quarters for the Dominican Order. Construction began in 1551 and it opened in 1608 before it was even finished. In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited the church, which was then declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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The bells were ringing as the people of Oaxaca City began to stir. We roused ourselves from slumber and began our morning ritual before descending the 21 steps for breakfast in the hotel’s interior court. I counted the steps because I traversed them a minimum of six times a day. In my younger days, I could have done that without stopping, but at age 77, an altitude of 1,555 meters, and having had pneumonia twice, I stopped two or three times just to be sure I was still able to breathe. As Betty Davis once said, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

After our breakfast we returned (21 steps up) to our room to plan our day while sitting out on the terrace. It was still too early for shops, stalls, and museums to be open at 7:30 am. 10:00 and 11:00 am were the magic hours for tourist attractions. However, a quiet stroll around town was very pleasant and afforded the opportunity to see more at a leisure pace.

The sound of music drew our attention to an outside walkway on the second level of the monastery and a perfect view of the church plaza, where a band and dancers were performing in their colorful costumes.DSCN2925

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Large white balloons were tied to poles and could be twirled as the dancers performed. The tall cone shaped hats of the “old men” dancers wearing ugly mask and dressed in strips of colorful fabric and ribbons can be seen to the right. Several women wore elaborate head-pieces that shot off fireworks during their performance as they moved to the pedestrian street and headed to the Zocolo (main plaza).

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There were giant figures of a man and a bride that whirled and twirled to the music as everyone followed them into the street and down to the plaza.

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The monastery is now a museum with a beautiful central courtyard complete with a fountain and six columns. This is where the stone and gold artifacts discovered in Tomb #7 at Monte Albán are now on display.

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This turquoise encrusted skull, the gold feather head ornament, necklace, bracelets and earrings are only a small part of the collection.DSCN2929

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Everything was displayed beautifully.

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The museum library (three large rooms) was quite large and had the aroma of old books.

Our first night out in Oaxaca (Aug. 9th) we stumbled on to a restaurant that looked inviting. It was called the Hosteria de Acala at 307 Macedonio Acala in Centro

Our table was next to the fountain in the center of the interior courtyard. We were entertained with soothing guitar music and a male singer who had a great voice.  Strangely, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves and the service was excellent.

We began with two margaritas, and ended with two more. John ordered a Molé Almendrado – beef tongue in a mole sauce ($270 MX) and I had six large Coconut Camarones secured on a sprig of rosemary and stacked on a one inch thick slice of sweet pineapple surrounded by a drizzle of spicy chili sauce ($285 MX). There was no room for desserts after eating the huge portions.  Sorry, I forgot to carry my camera.

Day Two:

The following evening was my birthday and we had reservations upstairs at the Bistro Oyster Bar with a floor to ceiling view of the Zocolo and all the activities in the plaza below.

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We began with a bottle of Nebbiolo – Private Reserve, a wine we drink at home (creatures of habit I guess).

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We shared an order of small crispy fried calamari served with a spicy pico de gallo and fresh limes ($157 MX), followed by a platter of six good size Baja oysters on the half-shell with four spicy dipping sauces ($175 MX). John ordered the Cuban style baby pork au gratin ($345 MX) and I had the chicken supreme breaded with a parmesan crust ($187 MX). We were entertained by music in the park and a fire dancer in the street below.

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Suddenly the restaurant began playing Happy Birthday (in several languages) over the PA system.  Our waitress arrived with two complimentary glasses of Champagne and a delicious cake with thin layers of whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, and fresh strawberries, topped with a single candle and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. – There was nowhere to hide.

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I almost forgot to get a photo. John put the candle back on the cake, but the ice cream was gone. Everyone applauded as I downed the Champagne in a single toast. What was I thinking? This was not a shot of tequila.

After getting a big hug from the hostess, we took the slow elevator to the street level and hailed a taxi back to the hotel, where I promptly crashed.

Dat Three:

Breakfast was a bit late the next morning. We were settling into a routine of rising latter. Day three was Sunday, so we skipped church and opted for a grand tour through the two local markets. Although many vendors were closed (because they were still in church), the more we browsed, more shops began to open. There were hundreds of stalls with clothing, leather belts, shoes, sandals, folk art, and lots of tchotchkes to be found at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

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John discovered the food at the Mercado Benito Juárez Maza and the meat counters were amazing.

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We purchased some additional fruit (mangos and bananas) to have prepared with our fruit plate for breakfast. We had to give up eating the wonderful pastries with breakfast and instead elected to have wheat bread toast with butter and jam. Occasionally I would order scrambled eggs. The orange juice was freshly squeezed each morning.

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The market cut flower arrangements designed for church alters were beautiful. Many of the flowers must come from Costa Rica. I don’t believe they cultivate them in Oaxaca.

We skipped Sunday lunch, but stopped on the plaza for some delicious ice cream – vanilla for me and chocolate for John. Mmmmmm good!

It was a people watching day, and there was no shortage of humanity in all shapes, sizes, and dress. We noticed that most of the languages we heard were European and Asian. Although most of the locals in the tourist industry (museums, restaurants, and shops), understood English and English menus were available if requested. We preferred the Spanish menus.

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Before I totally drive you food crazy we’ll take a break and save a few mouthwatering meals for the next post on “Dining out in Oaxaca.” Two museums are still to follow on the “Day of Culture.”

Bon Appetit!  Or as we say in Mexico – Provecho!

Stay tuned….

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

A Person of Interest – Accent – Vortex

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall: 2019

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

The Viper’s Nest – Accidentally Complicit

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

 

OAXACA !!

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Charming lady dressed for a fiesta on her way to the festivities at the church plaza. Please note that there are no electrical wires. Electrical wiring for the city centro is all under the sidewalks.

It was 1987 when we made our first trip to Oaxaca City. Thirty-two years later, in 2019, it was time to revisit this beautiful, ancient, enchanting, mountain city, tucked away in a green valley at 1,555 meters altitude in the southern state of Oaxaca, MX.

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Churches seem to be everywhere. Oaxaca is a city of bells when it comes to mass. The sound is most inviting and cheerful in the early morning around 6:30 am. when the quiet of the evening is broken with the tone of the bells.

Our visit was not only an escape from the high 90s heat of Merida but a combination of celebrations. Two birthdays and a wedding anniversary, make August a month to be recognized and a time to enjoy the extra pleasures in life.

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Beautiful architectural accents with etched glass ornate cornices at the Facultad de Arquitectura on the street 5 de Mayo.

The facade entrance of the symphony hall, with a side view. A amazing structure combining the green and pink stones of the region – plus a charming corner coffee shop on Garcia Vigil featuring one of the oldest lamp post in the city.

The adventure begins…

At 4:45 am on Friday morning, August 9th, we were waiting on the sidewalk in front of our house on Calle 58, for the arrival of our pre-ordered taxi pick-up. A taxi approached slowly with lights flashing. We loaded the luggage in the trunk and were ready to get in the car, when another taxi approached with flashing lights. He pulled in front of the first taxi and stopped.

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August 12th was Taxi Day in Oaxaca City. Taxis were decorated with flowers and ribbons in honor of their patron saint. Certain streets were blocked off to park the vehicles while the drivers attended a special mass recognizing their service to the city.

 

I realized the second taxi was the company we had reserved and not the first. The drivers were laughing about the confusion as we loaded the luggage into the second taxi with much apologies, and off we went to the airport. Which was busy as usual even at that hour of the morning.

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Fountain plazas appeared here and there all over Oaxaca, where people take advantage of the giant shade trees during the day. Cast-iron benches and raised planters offered ample seating.

We flew Volaris Airlines non-stop from Merida to Oaxaca City in approximately two hours. A comfortable flight with excellent friendly service. We had not checked any luggage so were able to make a quick exit to the taxi queue line and a short dive into the center of the city. We had notified our hotel, La Catrina de Acala, of our early arrival, knowing we would not be able to check into the room until the afternoon. The stored our luggage while we roamed the city for a few hours to get reacquainted with the grid and find the central plaza or Zocalo.

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We captured a bride on her way to the church for her wedding as she stopped to speak with some friends.

On our return to the hotel, the room still was not ready. However, on inspecting the accommodations (a junior suite), we were disappointed. Although quite large and very clean, it was dark as a cave. One window opening on to a dark passageway offered little light and much foot traffic. Fine for a night, but totally unacceptable for a week’s visit.

They called their “sister hotel” – Hotel Casa Catrina, located on Manuel Garcia Vigil, only a few blocks away, secured the largest room with plenty of light and fresh air, and provided taxi service. They didn’t want to lose a week’s lodging during the off season.

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Our room at the Hotel Casa Catrina was the largest and brightest of their six rooms. The door by the bed leads out to the huge covered terrace. The bathroom was 16′ x 8′, with a 4′ x 8′ tiled shower.

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Our room (the Green Room) at the Hotel Casa Catrina was perfect. Two large wood and glass doors opened to small balconies overlooking the interior courtyard, and a third wood and glass door on the opposite wall opened to a large covered roof terrace (16 x 30 feet). Pots filled with plants and comfortable furniture, made it an inviting place to relax and read or have morning coffee before the continental breakfast (included).

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The large covered terrace had views of the city and mountains. There was plenty of seating with glass top tables and numerous pots with cacti, ferns and colorful flowers.

The hotel had six rooms total (Red, Rose, &Yellow downstairs and White, Blue and Green. Upstairs. Their small restaurant is also open to the public for breakfast and lunch only, and the menu is workable for those wanting more than just molé.

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A view of the hotel interior court with dining tables and glass covered well in the center. The colorful paper stars are lights suspended from the ceiling. They move and turn with the slightest breeze.

Oaxaca is a magical city with churches, museums, galleries, restaurants and shops out the Ying-yang, and last but not least, hawkers, sidewalk-venders, and street entertainers abound. There are several pedestrian streets closed to traffic, which makes it easy to stroll, and the parks are filled with people from 10 am to 10 pm. People tend to dine between 8:00 and 11:00 pm.

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More details of the symphony hall entrance. I couldn’t resist.

The bars in town are quite subdued. The music is not so loud that people can’t enjoy a civil conversation without having to shout at each other. Even the live entertainment in restaurants and on the streets is kept to a civilized level and turned off before midnight. We were reminded of Campeche, but not Merida.

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This is the main entrance to the large botanical gardens attached to the Santa Domingo Monastery.

Next week I’ll take you through the magnificent Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, a large former monastery in the heart of Oaxaca City. We’ll explore their beautiful gardens and catch a glimpse of the street dancers on the church plaza. I’ll share my limited knowledge of some outstanding restaurants where we wined and dined for our celebrations. Pre-Columbian art and a contemporary exhibit will round out the third post on Oaxaca.

Stay tuned….

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

A Person of Interest – Accent – Vortex

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall: 2019

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

The Viper’s Nest – Accidentally Complicit

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

Solve the Riddle…

Murder is often mistaken for suicide. Once all the facts are investigated and the puzzle is put together, it can change the whole picture. But, finding the evidence is not always easy and people’s memories come and go. Homicide detectives often must rely on their gut instincts during an investigation.

Accidentally Complicit was just such a case that tested the logic and skills of the members at a forensic convention in 1994. I have taken the liberty of creating a story involving the questions that surrounded this hypothetical murder/suicide. The characters are uniquely individual and often amusing. I hope you will enjoy reading this chapter and continue to follow the story when the book is released this fall. – Mystery Collection – Vol.III

Sincerely,

D.G. Heath

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 The Setting

 

Chapter One

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A Gruesome Discovery

The body was found early that morning when the painters arrived to finish their work. Painting the façade of a fifteen story building can be an extremely dangerous job, however, the corporation that owned the building required the property management company to install a safety-net for the painters in case of any accidents.

“Don’t look now, but there’s some nut sleeping in the safety-net,” skinny Jake pointed down from the rooftop of the building.

Gus, his short, stocky co-worker, followed his finger aimed at the nylon netting secured to the twelfth floor of the building’s exterior.

Gus was livid. “Hey! Hey you down there. Get the hell outta that net, this ain’t no kiddy’s playground.” He looked at Jake. “What the hell! How did he get there?” He shook his fist as he huffed and puffed, leaning over the parapet.

Jake calmly adjusted the glasses on his nose and squinted his eyes to get a closer look at the unmoving body in the net. He shook his head, scratched his chin and with reserved hesitation announced, “I don’t know bud, but I’ve got a strange feelin’ that guy ain’t alive.”

Gus stared over the parapet once again with sudden concern, “Don’t even say that. We can’t afford to have a dead body lying around. We’re due to finish this job today. That’ll just put a monkey-wrench in the wheels of progress.”

“Well, hotshot, maybe you should go down there and tell him that.” Jake offered smoothly as he smiled and folded his arms across his chest.

“Damn right! I’ll get the building super to open that apartment on thirteen. I noticed it was empty the other day when we worked on that level. Meanwhile, you keep an eye on sleeping beauty down there.” He stalked off.

Jake hollered after him. “Don’t worry, man. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”

Suddenly they heard the sirens as police and the fire department converged on the scene, and people began to scramble into the building. Gus stalked back to the roof’s edge. “What the hell is going on down there?” he hollered above the noise and commotion.

Jake considered the question carefully as he observed all the commotion below. He was not one to make rash decisions. “Well, if you asked me, I’d say someone’s made a 911 emergency call. It’s pretty hard to hide a dead body floating in a safety-net thirteen stories above the building’s corner on East End Avenue and E. 89th Street.”

“Shit! They’ll probably haul us in for questioning,” Gus groaned, “What if they think we pushed him off the roof. I knew I shouldn’t have left the cat out all night.”

Jake gave him a confused look. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

“The cat was pissed when I let him in this morning. And when the cat’s pissed, it means there’s going to be trouble to pay. It’s an old wife’s tale, but believe me those old women knew what they were talking about more often as not.” Gus paced, fearing the worst.

The door to the roof top burst open as the police and detectives swarmed through the opening. Badges flashed and the questions began. Gus glanced over the parapet to see the firemen lifting the body out of the net. The man’s face looked familiar, but he couldn’t be sure from this distance. The building superintendent, Terry Walker, arrived behind the police along with detectives Peterson and Katz, to vouch for the two painters. He had let them in early this morning.

Walker was not in the best of moods. He had been up late last night taking care of a domestic squabble between an elderly-couple on the fourteenth floor. Their neighbor across the hall claimed they were arguing again and she heard a gunshot. On closer inspection, he discovered the husband had knocked over a large metal sculpture during the encounter and shattered the sliding glass door onto their deck. His wife was still in shock and couldn’t stop crying as she shook like a leaf, so she was not much help. However, they seemed to have kissed and made up, and the argument was over. It was after two o’clock before he finally got to sleep.

“I had a bad night, officer,” he told Detective Donald Peterson. “The Morgans on fourteen were having another row and broke their glass slider. Now this on top of that. The corporation isn’t going to be too happy. It’s bad publicity for the building.”

Gus and Jake were told to accompany Detective Joe Katz to the police station and give their account of the morning’s events. The man in the net had lived on the fifteenth floor. Terry had identified the man as a new tenant. He had rented the apartment only three months ago. The police, searching his apartment below had found an apparent suicide note on his computer. It would now be up to pathology to determine the cause of death and if drugs were involved. The safety–net on the thirteenth floor had prevented his falling the full fifteen floors, but he was definitely dead.

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Gracie Park on the East River upper Eastside

The crime scene.

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Author – D.G. Heath

D.G. Heath, born August 10, 1942, is an author at 77, now living in the Yucatan with John, his life-partner of 50 years. In his former life, he was an interior designer, private secretary, real estate broker, fashion model, innkeeper and CEO of his own company.

David and John owned and operated the Relais et Chateaux – Rancho de San Juan Country Inn, 38 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico for 22 years, receiving numerous awards in the hospitality industry.

Current Published Works

Adelaide Literary Magazine

The Cappuccino and No Time for Tears

Six Books

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Volume I

Double Martini / Web of Intrigue / Codes and Confessions

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Volume II

A Person of Interest / Accent / Vortex

The Art of Imagination

The Teaser…

Movie studios are always releasing teasers on their latest movies, due for release soon. Writers, who are not published by mega publishers, need to advertise on their own. Here is the first chapter of The Viper’s Nest, soon to be released this fall in the D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol III.

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1980180 Black Clip Art - Free

 The Viper’s Nest

Chapter  One

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Víbora

The multiple discolored bruises and blood-soaked injuries covering the corpse were evidence enough to explain what had happened, as it lay in the ditch beneath the coca plants surrounding the small village. Matt Evans had finally located his missing informant. He stood for a moment, staring down at Carlos’s mutilated body, and noticed the “V” markings of “Víbora” carved in his forehead. Matt knelt beside the corpse and let out the breath he had been holding. “Fuck!”

Young Pedro jumped back at the sudden anger in his voice. “Is this the man that was missing, señor?”

He waited on the gravel road, not wanting to be near the gruesome dead body. Matt couldn’t blame him. There were too many dead bodies in his part of the world, and this probably wouldn’t be the last.

“Yeah,” he nodded, “It’s him.” Matt twisted to look into the boy’s eyes. Do you know Father Manuel?”

Pedro nodded. His eyes glistened with fear. “Si, Señor.”

Matt searched through his pockets and pulled out a hand full of cash. He peeled off a couple of twenty peso bills and held them out to Pedro. “Go find him and bring him here.”

Pedro paused, shifting the weight of his small frame from side to side. “But señor…” He hesitated reaching for the money. “It’s too late for the priest.”

Matt could hardly blame the kid for being afraid to get involved. Everyone in the entire village lived in constant fear of Víbora and his cartel of viper.

“Carlos was a good man, Pedro. A faithful husband and a loving father,” he mumbled to himself in a broken voice. “He deserves the last rites. Take the money and send me the fucking priest.”

The boy grabbed the pesos and disappeared up the dirt road in the direction of the village. Matt figured the chances of his returning with Father Manuel were fifty to none, but he would wait.

Pedro was one of the street kids who lived on the fringe of the village with his brothers and sisters. His parents had been killed by the cartel years ago. His family was familiar with death. Word had spread about the disappearance of a man and Pedro had been starving and hungry enough to come to Matt with information about his missing informant. Beyond that, he wanted to vanish. Matt would be lucky to see him again.

Whatever the drug gang had done to Pedro and his family was still etched into his young face and burned into his memory. His eyes showed sorrow, anguish and fear. It was doubtful he would ever have a chance to experience his childhood. He was ancient before his time, a product of the cartel.

Matt glanced at the corpus with the “V” carved in his forehead. The mark of Víbora. “Some people die in their sleep,” he thought, but tonight it wasn’t in the cards for Carlos. He shook his head. “I’m sorry, amigo.”

Carlos had been Matt’s informant ever since he arrived in Honduras, on assignment with MIA to investigate and infiltrate the local drug and gun cartel, run by Guido Sanchez Calderon. Carlos had lost two of his brothers at the hands of the cartel, but unlike most of the native Hondurans, that had made him all the more eager to help. It also had made him careless. And now, he had paid with his own life.

Matt was standing guard over Carlos’s body, lost in thought, when he heard footsteps behind him and turned to see Father Manuel, glancing suspiciously from side to side. He moved silently in the dark, not wanting to attract attention. “Buenas noches, señor. I understand there is someone who needs the last rites?”

“I’m sorry, Father. I’m afraid it’s too late.”

“Then why send for me?” he asked, scanning the area nervously.

“Because it’s safer if we’re not overheard.” He stepped aside, letting the priest see the body in the irrigation ditch.

Father Manuel made the sign of the cross, “I warned him not to get involved,” he said, shaking his head.

“Warned him? Warned him of what? The cartel?”

“I told Carlos not to trust gringos, that it was dangerous, and now look what’s happened.”

“But he wanted to help because of what happened to his brothers.” Matt stressed.

“Maybe so,” he noticed the ‘V’ etched in the forehead of the corpus, “And now the cartel has taken his life as well.”

Matt was at a loss for words. Father Manuel was right. He had needed to infiltrate the local drug ring. Carlos had volunteered, but someone had blown his cover and now Carlos was dead. A severe warning to anyone else who might be foolish enough to turn against Víbora.

“Just take care of Carlos. I can’t be involved.” Matt’s voice choked in exasperation. He held out a handful of pesos to the priest.

“Money isn’t the answer to everything, Señor. Juan,” Matt waited, daring the priest to walk away, as anger in his eyes burned through the holy man. Father Manuel lived in fear of the cartel. He was weighing his religious obligations against certain death. The sound of cicadas filled the night air as his eyes searched their surroundings once again. Eventually he nodded and took the money. “Who will take care of his siblings?”

Matt winced as he rubbed his left shoulder and arm. “I’ll do what I can,” he hissed.

Father Manuel noticed his movements. “Are you hurt, señor?”

He looked down his arm at the bloody scratches. “I caught it on the fence over there.”

Father Manuel knelt beside the body of Carlos. Matt waited in silence with head bowed as he said a prayer. He had left his church long ago, but he still honored the rituals. It was now in Father Manuel’s hands. Matt disappeared in the darkness.

Then and Now…

In the beginning…

I’m sure a lot of stories have had those same words in the first sentence. But, for my purpose, it was the beginning of a new adventure in life. The following is the first emailed “Letters from Merida” that I sent in August of 2014.

Let’s compare then with now…

August 30th, 2014

Hola from the Merida Boys!!

This is the beginning chapter of our new life in the Yucatan. We arrived on Saturday evening last week.

2019 – (It has been almost six years since we arrived in Merida. We’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, but the adventure alluded to in this first sentence still exist. In our hearts we know we made the right choice and the spirit still beats within.)

We departed from the Rancho de San Juan at 5:00 am with friends who drove us to Denver for our 2:40 pm flight to Mexico City. The flight was delayed getting into Mexico due to a thunderstorm, and getting our luggage through customs took a bit longer than expected. Fortunately we made the connecting flight to Merida. Unfortunately our luggage did not. However, the airlines was able to deliver it the next morning.

2019 – (The Merida airport has made great improvements over the past six years. The remodel took a while, but has helped the flow of international and local travelers immensely. The facility was enlarged and functions better than most international airports today. No more lost or delayed luggage – so far.)

We are still acclimating to the heat and humidity, but can already tell the change in our dry skin soaking up the moisture. We are currently renting the same house we rented on our past trips to Merida.

Although we arrived at 11:00 pm and unpacked our four carry-on bags, we sat outside in the pool garden and downed a bottle of chilled white wine that our gracious landlady always has in the refrigerator for us.

2019 – (The warm (hot) summers have not changed, except perhaps to get a little hotter. However, the evenings tend to cool down once the sun has set. The summer months are of course the ‘monsoon season’ and afternoon rains bring in the moisture that mixes with the heat, creating the humidity. This took some getting used to, but we seem to have acclimated. We really feel like the natives.

When we travel now, it’s great to return to our own home. As for the chilled bottle of wine…we keep it handy, but are drinking less than we did six years ago. A wise move after the age of 70.

I recall that first week, after two bottles of wine with dinner at Apoala in Santa Lucia Park, we were feeling no pain as we walked five blocks back to our rental house. We were laughing and holding each other up as we staggered down the broken sidewalks. A policeman pulled up and asked if we needed a ride home. We said we were fine and could make it the next three blocks.  He slowly followed us just to be sure we made it. To serve and protect – he was there if needed.)

John was up early on Sunday morning and we headed out to the local produce market to stock up on some fruit and veggies. It was just a short walk to Chaya Maya restaurant for a real Mayan breakfast of panuchos and agua de Chaya (a very healthy, green, drink).

2019 – (We still enjoy a Yucatan breakfast at least every other week. Chaya Maya and Monjar Blanco are both just a short walk from our house. Fresh fruit, Mexican coffee with a touch of cinnamon, sausage from Valladolid, and possibly pancakes with honey from stingless bees, or panuchos and agua de Chaya, will see us through until dinner.

We cross the street to the produce market at Santa Ana Park where Luis fills our shopping bags with fresh papaya, mangos, bananas, and a pineapple. The stall next to him has carrots, potatoes, chayote, etc. etc.)

Ah yes…we could not escape the call to visit Walmart and complete our shopping list for the house.

2019 – (This is a once a week trip – that has not changed in six years.)

It is about a forty-five minute walk down Ave. Paseo Montejo, one of the most beautiful avenues in Merida, and a great way to get in some exercise. Of course there are park benches along the way should you need to catch your breath, or just sit and listen to the birds and watch the world go by.

2019 – (In the summertime, we take a taxi or Uber to the market now. It gets too hot to do the walk, starting in May through September. At our age it isn’t wise to push the envelope with a heat stroke. In the fall and winter months it is a nice leisure stroll.)

Paseo Montejo is a very European tree lined avenue with expensive homes, sidewalk restaurants, and businesses on either side of the four-lane divided street. The flame trees and golden rain trees are still in bloom and there are flowers everywhere.

Shopping at Walmart here is an experience in learning Spanish and a treasure hunt in finding what you want. Until we get use to where things are and what they are called, we just go up and down all the aisles. We also run in to a lot of expats here. Some looking lost, like us, and others more experienced willing to help you find what you’re searching for. It’s a fun way to meet people. The staff is also very helpful provided you can make yourself understood. Sign language is always good.

2019 – (We’ve gotten better at speaking Spanish, but will never be fluent at a second language. We’re past the stage of taking Spanish lessons. However, English is the second language here and a good deal of the people we interact with can speak some English. Elementary sign language also works.

We still meet people who look lost, but the shoe is on the other foot so to speak. Now we can tell them where things are located and on what isle they will find what the need.

Plastic bags will no longer be used in the markets due to new regulations. We usually manage with four bags of our own. The checkers and baggers all know us now. The seniors who do the bagging are not paid a wage, so tipping is expected – it’s how they earn a living.)

We have had several meetings with the architect/contractor and the people who will hopefully be installing the equipment we are going to need for the pool and – hot water on demand. We know we may not start off with everything we want, but they seem to be willing to work with us, project by project, as we can afford to do the work. It seems we all understand each other when it comes to mañana here in Mexico.

2019 – (Maintaining a 200 year old house is a constant job. We keep in touch with our contractor and manage to make repairs as needed. Nothing major or expensive at this stage. Last summer we had the ceiling re-done in the master bedroom and the pasta tile floors refinished to a high gloss shine.

This year we are hoping to re-do the ceiling in the living and dining room, paint the front wall outside on the street, reseal the roof, and see about getting a larger Teñaco (roof water tank) and a larger propane tank. Labor is not that expensive and the tanks are reasonably price. It’s all a matter of coordinating timing (Mexico timing – mañana does not always mean tomorrow.)  That’s life in Mexico.

We celebrated John’s 67th birthday on Thursday this week!

2019 – (We will celebrate John’s 73rd birthday in August and my 77th.)

Picture 020   D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

A Person of Interest – Accent – Vortex

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall: 2019

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

The Viper’s Nest – Accidentally Complicit

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

The “Dog Days of Summer”…

It’s that time of the year when no one goes outside in the middle of the day except “mad dogs and Englishmen.” I’ve always thought that phrase most appropriate. Having grown up in the heat and humidity of the sizzling summers in Texas, I came to understand that living in a tropical climate takes some getting used to…even for the dogs.

On our recent trip to Campeche, the dogs had taken to the shady side of the streets and sprawled lazily on the sidewalks. One could hardly blame them for abandoning the confines of interior rooms for the soothing breeze blowing in from the Gulf coast. Tourist and other visitors managed to walk around or step over the lazy creatures without disturbing them.

I’m taking a sabbatical from writing this summer. No, no…that doesn’t mean my monthly blog. Since 2017, I’ve published four books and currently have two more at the publisher’s for this year. For someone who never thought they would write more than a few emails a week, I developed a passion for telling stories. Perhaps I got that from my grandfather.

I write for my own pleasure and at 77, it keeps me out of trouble and allows my mind to stay in tune. It oils the gears of my imagination. That’s not to say that all of my stories are fiction. I’ve had a pretty interesting life and often my tales are true events and happenings from what I call the “years of cultivation.”

Someone once said, “You write your books. You scatter your seeds. Rats might eat them, or they might rot.  Some seeds lie dormant for decades because they only germinate after a fire, and sometimes the burned landscape blooms most lavishly.” Life is a mystery and I love a good mystery.

The monsoons have arrived in the tropics of the Yucatan. The rains are a welcome relief and the plants dazzle with their refreshment. I was reminded of the movie Elephant Walk, with Elizabeth Taylor and the elephants waiting for the rains to break the heat.

Summer is the season of new green growth; floral trees are in full bloom, the pool water sparkles in the sunlight, the nights take on a sultry, seductive, and romantic atmosphere for dining alfresco as we share a bottle of vino, and listen to music floating on the tropical breeze. Got the picture?

Well…after all…I did say I write fiction.  LOL

That’s a wrap for this week. I’ll see what I can conger up for next week, perhaps with a photo or two.

Hasta luego,

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall:

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

Return to Campeche…

Tic-Toc goes the clock, as time moves on. However, lately it appears to be ticking lot faster than usual. My publisher is anxious to publish my two latest books and I’m still working on the rewrites. Hopefully they will be released this fall.

Meanwhile, it’s best to let the words rest awhile. It clears the cobwebs and settles the dust. You’d be surprised how many spiders are still lurking among the pages even after eight to ten rewrites.

Sitting at the computer six to eight hours a day tends to make the body muscles week. It’s was time for some serious walking and exercise, so we hopped on an ADO – GL bus to Campeche, a beautiful seaside city on the Gulf coast, approximately a two hour drive from Merida.

Our last visit to this charming city was over a year ago. Pictured below are the twin bell towers of the main cathedral on the central plaza and the trolleys that offer a tour of the city.

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We arrive at our favorite lodgings in the Hotel Socaire, just a block and a half from the main plaza around 2:30 pm – just in time to grab a bite of lunch. We had requested a room on the ground floor so we wouldn’t have to haul luggage up stairs.

Room #10

Gated entrance / courtyard portal/ one half of the room / doors to outside tub\

Outdoor tub / pasta tiled wall in the bathroom / hanging hammock on the portal

Room number 10 is a Junior Suite and quite roomy (16’ x 30’) with a large private patio, covered portal and an open air whirlpool tub. The decorative pasta tile bathroom also has a glassed-in, rain-head shower. Plenty of hot water was available in the (8’ x 12’) bathroom with double washbasins and a large skylight, which made it easy to see on a moonlight evening.

Dining Out on Calle 59

After a late lunch in a cool restaurant, we took our siesta and a refreshing shower, then around 8:00 pm, we walked down to Calle 59 (the street of restaurants). There must be four or five blocks of restaurants that spread out into the street. No traffic is allowed. Tables, chairs, and umbrellas cover the street from sidewalk to sidewalk. It appears to be the place to go, for great people watching, good food and of course, a party-like atmosphere.

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Restaurant Bavit was our pick for dinner. Seafood was the order-of-the-day. We both ordered shrimp sautéed in garlic butter, served with grilled, mixed vegetables and accompanied by a bottle of chilled chardonnay wine, which was also our dessert for the evening.

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The charming young lady pictured here was our “server-with-a-smile.” Her attentive service was friendly and professional. The food was succulent and delicious.

The following morning, after a breakfast of hot cakes and bacon (for me) and a monstrous cinnamon roll and fruit plate (for John) we trotted down to the main plaza and caught the tourist trolley for a sight-seeing ride around town. Campeche is a small town with lots of churches. It is also a registered UNESCO Heritage Site. I took several photos of the important monuments shown below.

 

Bronze statues are popular in Campeche. You’ll see them on the sidewalks, in the parks and sitting on benches

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Guess which one is the statue…

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The trolley guide asked if we wanted him to translate the tour in English, but we said we understood enough Spanish to be comfortable and we could tell he was happy to hear that answer. The trolley stopped for a tourist bathroom break near the church of the Black Christ de Senor de San Roman.  Well, you just never know, do you?

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There’s always interesting architecture of mixed periods, so I took a shot of one while we waited for the rest of the tourist to gather again.

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After the tour, we hoofed it over to Calle 59 and each had a huge plate of delicious chicken enchiladas, smothered in a dark chocolate mole sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Although it was hot outside (95 degrees), sitting under an umbrella with a breeze wafting in from the Gulf coast was pleasant and relaxing. I do apologize, but I’m not into taking photos of my food. It’s a habit I broke myself of – that and selfies at the dinner table are a no-no.  LOL

At 77, I try to remember the days, the restaurants, the foods, the sites, and most of all, where I am. However, memories tend to flow like a river with many tributaries branching off in numerous directions. Eventually it will all end up going over the falls into the pool of a blissful and exciting life.

However, I’m not there yet…

After a couple of margaritas each and a complimentary guacamole in the courtyard of the Don Gaspar Hotel, we wandered down the street to La Maria, a small but extremely popular restaurant near the main cathedral. We began our meal with the Degustacion Campeche (a sampling taste of Campeche) which we shared. John ordered the grilled popo (octopus) and I chose the pesca del dia (fish of the day) – both were excellent selections, well prepared, and perfect with a bottle of XA Mexican blanc de blanc wine from Baja, MX.

I crashed when we final made it back to our room. Two margaritas, half a bottle of wine, and an over indulgence of food put me out. John helped me out of my clothes and brought me an Advil. I never even got under the sheet until around 4 a.m.

Ah, the days of my youth…I remember them well. But trying to recapture those days at my age is rediculous.

The following morning came earlier than expected for me. John opened the doors and windows and turned the A/C off. The birds were singing. It was time to get the body in motion once again.

We toured the cathedral as we usually do and I was captured by this saint with all the ribbons.

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The courtyard attached to the cathedral is also a mausoleum.

Several of the old bronze bells are on display in the courtyard.

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Above is the entrance to the Botanical Gardens in downtown Campeche. The walls were part of a small fort at one corner of the pentagram wall that framed the old city. I believe I read somewhere that Campeche is the oldest walled city in the Americas – the residence were forced to build the walls because of the pirate raids.

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Of course it is still the dry season and there wasn’t much in bloom. Birds were bathing in the fountain and we spotted a few bushes with flowers and an orchid in bloom.

 

 

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Pictures of local birds help kids identify their feathered friends.

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We walked down the street past several buildings we had passed on the trolley tour the day before and ended up in one of the old forts, now a nautical museum with models of sailing ships and other maritime collections. Quite interesting! But be prepared to climb a few stairs.

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This contempoary city government building had a beautiful mosaic tile mural.

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Next to it is the futuristic general assembly building.

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The fort had amazing thich rubble walls and was surrounded by a moat.

 

We stopped for lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in town called Paroquia. It is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Its clientele are 95% locals and 5% tourist. John enjoyed free range chicken and I had tamales. We shared a delicious flan, our only dessert on the whole trip.

We had dinner that night with Cleopatra. You remember her don’t you? Well, she hasn’t aged all that well. As a matter of fact, she turned out to be a live female iguana. They say, “What goes around, comes around.” If one takes on the characteristics of a reptile in life, one will return as a reptile in another life. No disrespect intended for either.

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Our waiter and his pet, Cleopatra, entertained us while we devoured some wonderful grilled fajitas and a couple of margaritas…I just never learn do I?

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Cleo likes to be mystified (bathed) even in public. Shocking, I know. She too had her dinner of fresh lettuce, hand fed by our waiter (now that’s what I call service).

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Then she got a little massage (talk about pampered). She can be as still as a statue and people jump when she moves her head. Cute!

We met a nice couple from Australia who were staying at our hotel and they joined us the next morning for breakfast. The next stop on their tour was Merida, so we gave them a list of things to see and do before heading off to Cancun and back to San Francisco then on to Australia.

All-in-all, it was a fun relaxing escape. No computer, no emails, and no US news – just one too many margaritas. But who’s counting?

Cheers!

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Coming this fall:

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Three

Plus

Bedtime Stories and Other Tales

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com

A Sense of Ambiance…

Who’s that knocking at my door? Must be some pilgrim who has strayed from the flock on they’re way to the Sanctuary at Chimayo for Good Friday prayers. Perhaps it’s someone being forced to evacuate from the flaming forest fires in Los Alamos. Whoever it was, our inn was a sanctuary for all of our guests.

Beyond the ten foot high, custom designed wooden door with angels (crosses) surrounded by amazing three dimensional faux art, luxury awaited.

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The Virgin of San Juan de Los Lagos, surrounded with the hot chocolate aroma of wild chocolate flowers greeted guest near the entry. Solari bronze bells hung above a wooden antique milk cart filled with pink geraniums. On the right, red chili ristras added a sense of local flavor to the main hacienda. The ladder on top gave the building an authetic pueblo appearance.

The Rancho de San Juan was number one in Southwest hospitality, where guests found a sense of comfort, friendship, good food and a full bar. You have to remember, this was rural New Mexico. What would a country inn and restaurant be without a place to have margaritas in the heat of the day or on the terrace at sunset?

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A Fall Breakfast at Ranch de San Juan

The fountain terrace with the sound of soothing water flowing over a sandstone ledge and tumbling into the pool below, while birds twittered in the crabapple trees and butterflies floated from flower to flower was the perfect way to start the day. Geckos would scamper here and there hiding from the guests enjoying their hot tea or coffee with fresh fruit, rolls, jam, gingerbread pancakes, eggs “your way” or John’s famous huevos rancheros topped with spicy chili and cheese.

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We had two napkin folds at the rancho. For breakfast, we did what I called the “bird of paradise” fold, which was placed in the coffee cup when setting the table before guest arrived.

For afternoon wine and cheese and for dinner, we used my version of the “bishop’s miter” with an extra twist of the wrist and called it the “Sydney Opera House” fold.

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Fall at The Rancho de San Juan

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In 1994, John started out with a small compact kitchen. It worked fine when we only had four tables in the small dining room. Breakfast and dinner were both prepared on a six burner Garland range with a grill and two ovens. There was a small Hobart, hand-loaded dishwasher and a triple sink that spread along one wall opposite the stainless center island table and a large window that looked out on the raised kitchen herb gardens near the fountain patio.

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Kitchen Number One

Then came Kitchen Number Two as we added more tables and staff for the restaurant.

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The warming station where servers picked up their food orders

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The prep sink and eight burner Jade Range with two large ovens, and a deep fryer and grill at one end covered by a 12 foot hood. Tile floors and Mexican marble walls gave a warm glow to the sork space.

In less than a year we moved the dining room into the large living room (30 x 36 feet) and doubled the number of tables. The first look of the dining room was rather traditional, with upholstered, wood dining chairs and tables draped in white linen cloths. It gave the room a rich club-like atmosphere. Giant vigas and herringbone patterned wood formed the ceiling 16 feet above. Selected pieces of art by local artist graced the taupe colored plaster walls with doorways and windows trimmed in white. Housekeeping made sure the salltio tiled floors were cleaned to a sparkling shine every day.

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Fall at The Rancho de San Juan Dining Room – 1996

We gave up our living quarters at the inn for the sake of expansion and by 1999, we had developed a 13 acre condominium with ten free-standing vacation condo units. These gave us additional rentals needed for inn guests when the owners were not using them.

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By that time we had changed the looks of the dining room considerable. Obviously we didn’t sit around wondering what to do next. The new look was on the contemporary side, based on our choice of comfortable chrome and leather Bruno chairs. Of course they weren’t originals, but it was hard to tell the difference.

Guests made many return visits to our country inn just to stay in a different room each time. Spacious rooms and suites were geared for comfort and detailed with an artistic eye.

Black Mesa

Santa Clara

It was a fascinating second career for both of us and the longest period that we ever worked at one profession. I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing with me.

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D.G. Heath – Author

Amazon Publications

Tales from a Country Inn

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. One

The Art of Imagination

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection – Vol. Two

Adelaide Literary Magazine – Nov. 2016

Cappuccino – No Time for Tears

Email: meridaboys@gmail.com