Campeche…Day Three (short day)

Another beautiful morning and our last day in Campeche. Today we decided to have breakfast at Luan’s restaurant on Calle 59 (the restaurant street). John had read about their waffles and pancakes (just what the doctor ordered before ending our visit).

They didn’t open until later in the morning so we had plenty of time to pack our luggage. Christian, at the front desk, agreed to store it for us until departure time (check-out is at 11:00 am). We had scheduled a 3 pm departure with ADO.

Luan’s tables were set in the street under umbrellas, offering some coverage from the sun. We both ordered the waffles with fruit. They came with blueberries, strawberries, dollop of sour cream and a pot of honey. We were both surprised by the large serving. It was a leisure breakfast with good, rich coffee.

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The waffles were great, but in a humid climate, if you don’t eat them quickly, they tend to become less crispy.

Two American women sat at a table near us and a third lady from Germany joined at another near-by table. We aren’t shy, so the conversations flowed easily between tables. They were all headed to Merida, so we offered advice on what to see and where to dine during their visit.

Bidding them farewell, we stopped at another church full of artist and folk-art. Walking around town, viewing more of the architecture, we located a bench in the shade where we could people watch and allow the waffles to digest, then headed back to the hotel to check-out and deliver our luggage to Christian for storage until after a late lunch.

Christian had suggested a local restaurant called La Parroquia. It was only a block and a half from the hotel, so we wandered over. This place is open 24 hours and has a large menu to select from. We always enjoy experiencing restaurants where the locals like to eat, and this place was no exception – we were the only Anglos in the place.

John had a breaded chicken breast and I ordered the Tomal Colado (masa stuffed with shredded pork and red onions wrapped in a banana leaf, steamed, and served with a smoky tomato sauce)…I would not be hungry on the ride home. Both were accompanied with guacamole, chips and a basket of hot tortillas. Three bottles of mineral water and a 15% tip brought the total to a little more than $300 pesos. Sorry no photos – my  camera was packed in the luggage.

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We noticed this charming home on our walk to lunch. Note the architectural detailing.

We waddled back to the hotel and they called a taxi to take us to the bus station. Our timing was perfect. We were sitting in the two front seats with an unobstructed view of the highway and surrounding countryside. There was a short rain storm between Campeche and Merida, but it was not raining at home.

Checking our emails after unpacking, we noticed a note from the German lady. “We are here at Oliva’s. Come join us for dinner if you can. – Stephanie (the German one).” Actually, the American women were named Stephanie and Gloria…from Portland, OR and San Antonio, TX – long-time friends.

We quickly changed clothes and walked the two blocks to Oliva Kitchen. They were not there. Then we realized that they must be at Oliva Enoteca, and walked another three blocks, where we found them seated at a table for six. It was an enjoyable evening and the conversation flowed like a good vintage wine.

Stephanie from Germany has already left the Yucatan, but we are having one last dinner with Gloria and the other Stephanie on Sunday before they depart and head off in different directions.

Back in Merida, the new Christmas lights had been installed. The city went all out this year with amazing light displays all along Paseo de Montejo avenue for miles, and down calle 60 to the main plaza.

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The Remate was transformed into a dazzling explosion of lights in Santa’s Village.

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The large golden ornament of lights is also a walk-through tunnel, and round balls of light hang from the trees and rest on the ground like snowflakes.

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The stands are busy with shoppers looking for that special Christmas gift, and there is a lot to select from.

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The stage is set and ready for the entertainment to begin at 9:00 pm.

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The people are arriving early to get a good seat in front of the stage with the huge Christmas tree behind them.

The final season’s performance of the Yucatan Symphony was Friday, and we have a “fiesta party” to attend this Saturday, so it looks like a busy weekend. Hope you have enjoyed following us on this little trip and if you get the chance, you should visit Campeche.

Happy Holidays!

From The Merida Boys

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Campeche…Day Two

Rise and shine! It’s day two in our Campeche holiday. Wouldn’t you like to wake up to a five foot, colorful Piñata filled with delicious candies hanging just outside your balcony doors?

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We headed off to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant – pasted the Piñata. The hotel has numerous courtyards offering secluded spots to relax, read a book or write a story. The main courtyard has an old well in the center. It was once open to the sky.

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The pasta tile floors change patterns from space to space, appearing like brightly designed rugs.

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The pool area was inviting, but the water was far too cold for both us and the single woman having her hot cappuccino as she soaked up the warmth of the morning sun.

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Several  newer rooms were added around one courtyard that we passed through on our way to the restaurant.

I ordered the Chaya and cheese omelet. Chaya is a native plant that taste like spinach, but is poisonous if not properly blanched before using it. This was accompanied by hot tortillas and a serving of black, refried beans. Café Americana and a glass of Agua de Chaya, sweetened with honey from stingless-bees, charged my energy for the morning round of sightseeing.

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As you can see – John had the fruit plate with papaya, banana, apple and pineapple and a bowl of granola with orange juice and coffee.

First stop: Casa Number Six – the red house located on the main plaza.

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This is a stately old casona (built in the 1500s) has been restored with original furnishings, high ceilings and decorative stenciling. The kitchen stove used wood for heating.

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This was also a day for going to church. We don’t attend church, but we enjoy visiting them when traveling and marveling at the architecture. Don’t get me wrong – we are believers…we just don’t believe in “organized religion.” However, our first stop was the main cathedral with its twin bell towers – rather stark, but still quite impressive.

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There are numerous churches around town, so one could spend the entire day touring if so desired. Here are some photo clips from the other four that we visited.

One church we stopped into was no longer a church. but was used to house numerous artist, who had booths setup to show and sell their wares – hats, shirts, belts, scarves, blouses, sandals and much much more.

Fort San Miguel, located at one end of the malacon facing the Gulf of Mexico, was one of the main forts built to protect Campeche residents from the raiding pirates. The walls were lined with over twenty canons. It now serves as a museum.

After our self-guided tour of the fort, we were ready for lunch. Seafood was on our brains, so we headed to La Palapa del Tio Fito, located right on the water with a great view. Go here with an appetite since the servings are large and also well prepared.

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As you can tell, we arrived just as the restaurant opened to be sure we would have a table close to the water and a view of the Gulf.

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We started with the pescado ceviche a large bowl of fresh fish, perfectly marinated with cilantro and lime – excellent! This should have been our complete meal – but did we stop? No, no, no.

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John ordered the shrimp salad, again quite large and sufficient to share. There were large cubes of avocado, shaved red onions, cilantro and at least 20 or more very fresh medium sized shrimp served on a small platter.

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I ordered the red snapper filet with Veracruz sauce. In most restaurants this would have served two persons. It was served with yellow rice and assorted fresh vegetables. (Sorry, no photo). Go here for excellent seafood , atmosphere and very good value – (11am to 6pm only – not open for dinner.) From our table on the veranda, we watched the fishing boats come in with their catch-of-the-day, and could see the restaurant refrigerated-trucks lined up to load their supply of seafood for the evening meals.

After a three hour leisure lunch, we needed to take a walk along the malacon. We had the taxi drop us off a few blocks from the hotel.

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The city was well fortified as you can see. I got a shot of the colorful and artisticaly designed Campeche sign,with John standing at the far end – if you can see him.

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It was three o’clock and time for our siesta – remember our motto…eat/sleep. eat/sleep.

Nighttime is magical in Campeche, so what better way to start the evening alfresco than to enjoy a glass of vino tinto and a bit of guacamole while overlooking the main plaza and cathedral? Casa Vieja del Rio is just the place – in spite of their cover charge.

It’s nothing to brag about – but the atmosphere makes up for the added cost.

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It was early evening and we were about the only table on the veranda, but they didn’t rush us. John was enjoying one of our several glasses of wine, before heading off for Calle 59 – the pedestrian street where several blocks are dedicated to dining (day and night). We never have trouble getting a table because we dine early (7 pm). This place is jumping about the time we are ready to turn in for the evening. Please note the wide sidewalks. This is street dining – Not sidewalk cafes.

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La Parrilla Colonial was our restaurant choice for the evening. They have restaurants in Merida as well as Campeche, but this one has a menu that acknowledges its Campeche roots. John had the brochette, consisting of shrimp and deliciously tender pieces of beef, bell peppers and onions all cooked to perfection and excellently flavored.

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This dish is flambéed at the table before serving. The show, however, did little for the flavor as well as the sauce that was poured over it setting it on fire.  I had the chicken fettuccini with an Alfredo cream sauce. The chicken and sauce were good, but the pasta tough and rubbery. John thinks it was cooked earlier and possibly dipped in boiling water to reheat. Whatever was done they really need to improve the pasta quality.

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There was never enough room for dessert but we both ordered a cappuccino to linger and people watch.

Our next day would be a short one. Our bus departure was at 3:00 pm. However it was a most interesting morning, so I will save it for the next post.

Before you head out the door for dinner I feel it my duty to remind you that these dinners and lunches with beverages and tips, were under $40 and $50 usd for the two of us, and our junior suite at the hotel was $75 usd per night. Vacationing on a budget is easy and enjoyable when you do the research.

Day Three is next! It’s time for lunch and I don’t want to miss a meal.

 

 

Campeche…a small wonder!

There is no way to write a short post about Campeche. Small though it may be – not as large a Merida – it is big, in what it has to offer. This post will need to be split into three parts. I hope you will continue to enjoy the story.

Campeche by the sea…

It’s Monday morning and the bags are packed. I always try to take more than I will need but this time we are traveling light – after all, it’s only a three day trip. We will be returning on Thursday afternoon. We don’t need to call a taxi. Our street is a main thoroughfare for taxis and buses. All we need do is step out the front door and flag one down. However, John will most likely phone our regular taxi driver, Manuel. He takes us everywhere and even waits for us to shop, then brings us home again. The bus station, for the ADO bus we are taking, is several blocks distance, so with our luggage, it is easier to have transportation. Dragging a suitcase around behind me for ten or twelve blocks is not the way to start a leisure escape to adventure.

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You may not see it, but Manuel is smiling – he is always smiling! He has driven a taxi in Merida for over 30 years (not this one) – he is proud of his new taxi., and so are we…it has air conditioning that works!

The ADO bus station is always clean and comfortable. Even though we purchased our tickets several weeks ago at the ticket office near the Hotel Fiesta Americana, we arrive early to be on the safe side. A great number of people travel by bus in Mexico – just like they used to do in the US on Greyhound buses. However, it’s wise to purchase tickets well in advance – buses can fill up quickly. As we are both over 70, we qualify for the INAPAM discount for senior citizens. That makes our tickets $113 pesos each way (per person) – or approximately $12 USD round trip. It takes around two hours, riding in air conditioned comfort to travel from Merida to Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico.

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We arrived in Campeche around 4:30 pm and checked into the Hotel Socaire.

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Our junior suite was ready and inviting. We unpack our huge amount of clothes, stored them away and stretched out for a short siesta on a most comfortable bed before showering and dressing for our first night on the town.

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It was a short walk to the main plaza all decked out for the holidays. We visited the main cathedral and headed for   Marganzo’s, one of the most highly recommended restaurants in town. Our table had a great view of the original old wall around the city to protect it from invading pirates, and the restaurant was open to the street.

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I ordered a crab cocktail and John had a plate of thinly sliced octopus. Both were delicious.

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Cocktail filled with crab meat with chips and white wine /  octopus with a sauce I can’t remember and a little Bohemia oscura (dark beer).

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My main course was the coconut shrimp served with an apple chutney – great taste!

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Eight large shrimp is no small serving.

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John ordered a large serving of butterflied shrimp with rice and veggies.

Now you know why this post is going to be cut into thirds. You are probably already grabbing you sweater and heading out to the nearest restaurant. I will give it a rest – without mentioning dessert and start the next one with breakfast at the hotel. I mention to a friend the other day that we would eat and sleep, eat and sleep  and eat and sleep. In between, we roamed the streets and did some sightseeing…then slept some more. I love retirement.

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I said goodnight to my new friend, before heading back to the hotel. He is a bronze statue of a local fisherman, wearing his straw hat, with his catch-of-the-day resting by his boot covered feet.

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We saw several fishermen in the same outfit the following afternoon. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Buenos noches amigos – hasta mañana…

D.G.Heath

No Rain on this Parade…

The morning was crystal-clear and the temperature hovered in the mid-60s – it was a perfect day for the parade as excitement filled the air.

The Porto-potties had been delivered and placed during the night. All the streets to be used were cordoned off – no traffic. The silence was amazing – almost eerie. The distant call of a Mot-mot bird drifted on the morning breeze as we sat having our first cup of cinnamon flavored Mexican coffee. We have become very native when it comes to some of the simple joys of life like our morning coffee or afternoon siesta and Horchata smoothie.

Off in the far, far distance, we could barely detect the low rumble of what appeared to be drums. We quickly fixed our breakfast as the tempo slowly increased and the parrots scattered from hiding in the trees and took flight to escape. The bugles sounded and the parade had begun.

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I don’t think there is an age limit to participate in a parade. You just have to be willing to march miles while carrying a drum and keeping time with the other boys (or girls). Be sure to have extra drum sticks – You can’t stop to pick on up if you drop it. That’s the job of the stickman on the last row.

Now these ladies mean business. They aim to please.

This no ordinary parade. It is a celebration to commemorate the Mexican Revolution started on November 20, 1910, when liberals and intellectuals began to challenge the regime of dictator Porfirio Diaz, who had been in power since 1877 (a term of 34 years known as El Porfiriato), violating the principles and ideals of the Mexican Constitution of 1857. – Sounds like the USA today – but that’s another story.

There were many costumes in all different colors – these people love a parade.

These women know how to twirl and whirl those skirts. They’ve had lots of practice.

This is a national holiday in Mexico and everyone is in the holiday spirit. Thousands of people participate in this parade every year. It begins at the Monument of the Patriots on Paseo de Montejo (a block passed Walmart) and continues to the main plaza or Zocolo in the center of The White City (Merida). This as a walk of 18 very long blocks.

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Snazzy uniforms for this drum and bugle corps. These guys know how to dress.

When it came to color and music, this parade was up to par with some of the best. Although there are no actual bands marching, the numerous drum and bugle corps make up for their absence, aided by a caravan of pick-up trucks and other vehicles, equipped with monstrous speaker systems, blaring dance and marching music.

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The peasants are revolting! But they look so cute dressed in white and carrying fake rifles.

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Please note the girls all wear their hair in a single braid. When it is not braided, it leaves their hair long and wavy.

The State Police lead today’s parade, followed by the Federal Police, the Municipal and City Police. The Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, First Responders and Rescue Squads also participated – even the canines made an appearance. But my favorite were the dance groups and the ones in traditional costumes.DSCN1906

The Dream Catchers really in step. with the music.

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This little Dream Catcher caught my eye and .

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The Umbrellas of Mexico – Now there’s one I bet you didn’t think you would see. I give it the award for most inventive.

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These are my hat check girls doing their special rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance. It takes a lot of concentration.

There was not a school in Merida that didn’t have an entry, sporting the school’s banner and required uniforms. They march in military fashion with precision movements (to the best of their ability).DSCN1895

No. It is not Sally Rand – but I call them the Fan Dancers. The boy on the right is there to protect the birds of a feather flocking together. The truck on the left was blaring the music  for the marchers.

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The Pom-pom girls were a little off on the count. It is a two handed move but one hand didn’t remember that. May she was just tired.

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I think the scarf dancers had had too much vodka in their orange juice.

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Now you really got us in a mess! This is supposed to be a red bow…what were you thinking? Fake it! Just fake it…there’s only eight more blocks to go. No one will ever know.

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Construction workers in their green and orange vest complete with hard-hats and mask had their own group represented. They were carrying various tools – picks, shovels, saws, etc.

The parade lasted from 7 am until 10 am, when the last of the marchers passed our doorway. There was a good turn-out and now that siesta is over, the parties will go on until the wee hours of Tuesday morning – usually with fireworks at some point in the night. I hope you enjoy these few photos I was able to snap.DSCN1948

Even the buzzard got a birds-eye view of the parade sitting on the tower near by.

Happy Thanksgiving to all – even if you don’t celebrate it.

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David (D.G. Heath) and John ( Chef – John Johnson III)

Let the Parties Begin!

November has arrived with the cooling breezes of the winter months. It’s time to plan for outdoor entertainment, as we enjoy temperatures in the 80s during the day and in the 60s during the night. There hasn’t been much rain for a week now and the humidity has dropped to an acceptable level. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “There’s nothing so enjoyable as winter in the tropics.”

However, this is not a time for rest and relaxation. It’s party time! People we haven’t seen since May are returning to their homes here in Merida and it is time to get reacquainted. November is also a month full of festivals, fiestas, and fairs. Musical performances and cultural events are happening weekly. New restaurants and cafes are popping up in every direction. Merida is thriving with entrepreneurial blood flowing in its veins as it continues to grow and improve.

FICMAYA (Mayan International Cultural Festival, runs from Oct 15 to Nov. 5th) and takes place all over Merida during the month of October. It incorporates numerous events, such as Octoberfest -15th to 22nd, The FILEY (International Book Fair: Oct. 15th – Nov. 5th on the Grand Plaza), and many others – The Paseo de las Anamias ( passage of the souls) and Dias de Muertos (Day of the Dead), even the Merida Film Festival.

As part of FICMAYA cultural festival the Oaxacan Fair arrived at the end of October in Santa Ana Parque with vendors and artist selling their beautiful handmade art, clothing and trinkets. Tents stretched around the plaza and there was live entertainment nightly.

The Rock ‘n Roll half Marathon was held on Saturday night Nov. 4th. Paseo de Montejo was closed on both sides of the avenue from 5 pm to 9 pm as the participants ran from the Monumento a la Patria to the plaza and back (a long way to run). There was a fireworks display at the end of the run. We couldn’t see them but we could hear them as we enjoyed a light dinner on the terrace of Casa Chica, a new café/bar on Montejo while listening to the sounds of James Brown, Ray Charles and other 50s and 60s Rock recording artist.

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The Casa Chica is a delightful spot to enjoy an evening out under the stars. There are several areas both indoors and outside where one can choose to relax. We selected the raised outdoor terrace, facing onto Paseo de Montejo. Arriving just at   7 pm when they opened, we picked the table to the front on the far right. The position of the table on the “far right” has nothing to do with our liberal political preference.

The Pizza was topped with spinach leaves. Sorry, but I ate three of the empanadas before I got the camera out. Neon hot pink signage tends to glow – the logo is a pink flamingo.

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After two bottles of Chardonnay, an anti-pasta plate with three cheeses, olives (black and green), grilled Italian sausage, Serrano ham, and fresh garlic bread, followed by four empanadas stuffed with meat, spinach and goat cheese, then a pizza, and last but not least, a cappuccino, it was suddenly 10 pm. Casa Chica was packed with customers by that hour. I hope their success continues – we’ll be back for sure.

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A comfortable breeze whispered through the leaves on the tree-lined avenue while people and families with small children took their evening stroll to the Remate where the sounds of live entertainment from the Noche Mexicana and Ballet Folklorico performance drifted on the air, drawing them in like a magnet for the night’s free festivities. Wandering through the crowd, we stopped to listen to one of the singers as we made our way back to the comforts of our casita.

We fell into bed to the sound of music, floating in one door and out the next, as a cross-breeze cooled the room and we pulled the blanket higher. Sixty-eight degrees makes for very comfortable sleeping.

The Scary Month of October…

It’s here at last! Ghost – Goblins and Strange Things that go bump in the night. It’s also Harvest time in the fields. October 3rd started the month off with a huge Harvest Moon rising in the East. The evening in Merida was clear as the shining shimmering ball rose out of the Caribbean Sea and peeked above the trees and buildings in Centro, casting soft shadows in the twilight as music drifted on the tropical breeze through Santa Lucia Parque.

As the summer ends and fall begins to wane, the expats return to the tropics bringing a surge of activity to Merida. There are always numerous celebrations and holidays in Mexico but when the Mayan Fiesta Cultural happens, it is a never ending progression of events all over the city. Parks fill with vendors selling their crafts, art and food. Families come out for the evening to hear the live entertainment and watch the Ballet Folkloric dancers perform. The city is filled with music and art.

Churros – Piping hot deep fried pastry sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon                          (5 to a bag – 25 pesos) – Now there’s a dessert for you …Over the lips and right to the hips.

Lighted decorations celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day hang above the street down Calle 60 and the parks are filled with colorful light displays. These will change for the next celebration in November honoring the Mexican Revolution. On Nov. 16th there will be a big parade down Calle 58 (our street) all the way to the Zocolo grand plaza.

However, before that happens, Mexico celebrates Dias de Muerto (the Days of the Dead). The first march to honor the dead, took place on October 23rd. This year over 57.000 people participated in the 20 block procession of the Paseo de las Animas (March of the Souls). This is a week-long event with family “Hanal Pixan” altars set up at home and in public parks around the city to honor the spirits of loved ones.

 

They are covered with palm leaves and flowers (especially marigolds) and laid with favorite foods of the dearly departed. Photographs of relatives and friends who have passed away grace the altars along with religious items (crosses, rosaries, and Milagros) – even special toys of children, find a place on the altar. There are parties and events all over the city where people gather to celebrate life and honor the dead with much respect.

Part of this grand event is the beautiful flower display in the Parque Mejorada. This year was no exception when it came to amazing the viewers. Flowers of every kind decorated a graveyard setting. Marigolds in every color and size are the flowers used to honor the dead.

 

Friday night we decided to have a night on the town and watch the parade of people on Calle 60 from our bar stools at La Parrilla. The bartenders Willy and Gina made sure our Grande Margaritas were never empty for long.

Now…there’s a happy twosome – The drinkers and the servers. One with salt and one without – A little more guacamole please. Cheers!!

Timing is important – one minute the last car zooms down Calle 60 heading north and in less than five minutes the street becomes an extension of the restaurants facing Hidalgo Park. The street is closed to auto traffic at a certain hour and pedestrians can wander and dine freely without the fear of getting run over.

The stage is set #1 – The waiters go to work #2 & 3 – By the time they had set-up the tables and chairs, they were full #4 (all in 5 min.).

A delightful couple and their two daughters dressed in costume and painted faces dined at a table in front of the restaurant The father, a perfect gentleman, pulled out each of the chairs for the young girls and his wife. Chivalry is not dead here in Merida what a delight to see.

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After two and a half Grande Margaritas each and an order of guacamole later we were bid farewell to the people watching.

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The Fan Man – This guy knows how to work it. He is all over Merida selling his fans and will happily show you how to be fan-seductive.

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Ladies on the town for the Day of the Dead posed for photos  were gussied to the nines.

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Somehow I just didn’t fit in with the band – must have been my poor make-up job – but the hat added a little class. A fun evening was had by all .

No…this is not The Adam’s Family – but we are taking it on the road next week. Who was that man in the Painted Mask??? The Loan Stranger…I replied.

What makes a book a Best Seller?

It takes a good writer…but more important, it takes readers – and lots of them.

Advertising helps to generate sales. Without that, not much happens. Advertising is not cheap, so writers must seek ways to get their books noticed without the help of a major publishing company. With that in mind, I hope you will continue to read this blog.

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My first book was published on Amazon in April 2017 just in time for Easter. After twenty-plus years of owning and operating a Four Diamond/Four Star country inn and restaurant in New Mexico, we retired to the Yucatan and I needed a hobby. A friend suggested I should write about running an inn and restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and the unique and interesting guests we had the pleasure to entertain during those twenty years. With hospitality running in my veins like the Rio Grande River, I was suddenly given a challenge and the opportunity to tell the true stories that we rarely shared with anyone – they were our little secrets.

In Tales from a Country Inn, I relived some of the strange, quirky, unusual and comical happenings we experienced with the famous, infamous and unknown guests that granted us with the pleasure, and in some cases the regret of their company. But in the end…I wouldn’t trade those twenty years for a million bucks. This is just the tip-of-the-iceberg.

Readers Praise Tales from a Country Inn

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I had not taken a writing class since my junior year in high school so I had a lot of catching up to do. I joined a writer’s class here in Merida and soon discovered that I enjoyed writing mystery – why not? Fiction isn’t as easy to write as some people think it is. Plot, outline, character development, voice, drama, suspense, and research are all part of what makes the mystery believable. Like a spider weaving his intricate web, the writer must connect all the threads that hold the story together.

I never set out to write a book. My goal is to create a story. A story can become a book or a book can be composed of several stories. Book one of the D.G. Heath – Mystery Collection is comprised of three stories.

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Cover – Mystery Collection

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Back Cover

Double Martini was originally a writing prompt (500 words or less) that grew into a short story.

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Web of Intrigue was written at the request of a close friend who expressed the desire to be a character in one of my stories. The story was dedicated to her. I used her personality, her ambition to enjoy life and her sense of humor to give voice to the character. I just hope her husband didn’t mind that I gave her a handsome Italian lover.

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Codes and Confessions started as a single story that developed later with a back story to bring balance and clarity. Weaving the two together was a challenge, and the first time I have attempted to braid two stories together. By the end of the story, everyone had confessed – or at least I think they did…you be the judge. This story was never shared with anyone prior to publication. I would very much like to hear from you with your thoughts. You are welcome to comment on this blog or to send me an email direct and perhaps your comments will appear in the D.G. Heath – Mystery Collection – Book Two next spring.

Thanks for sharing this blog with your friends and relatives and helping a writer to get started on the road to mystery, romance and laughter.

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Much appreciation,

D.G. Heath

Happenings of the Season…

Summer is over in just a few days. Where did the year go? It seems that time moves a lot faster after one reaches middle-age. I’ve often wondered how anyone can determine just when middle-age begins. Perhaps it is based on the idea that we can live to be a hundred – making fifty the starting point. However, I firmly believe you are only as old as you feel. Old is a figment of our imagination. Many will disagree for various reasons – but an active life is important. And with that being said…I will get on with this story.

September started with a bang. Not only did we have Harvey, Irma, José and Katia all in the same month but there was a major earthquake off the west coast of Mexico. Flooding rain storms, disappearing islands, mudslides, typhoons in the Pacific and icebergs as big as Road Island…and there are those who still refuse to accept the idea of climate change. I doubt that Machu Picchu will ever be underwater, but Florida and Houston? – That’s another story.

But now for the bright side of this post…Merida has enjoyed the almost daily summer tropical rains, turning the tropics a lush green, keeping the air quality fresh, the sidewalks and streets washed clean and the nights’ a bit cooler. We can’t complain.

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The Symphony Season has begun (Sept. thru Dec.) with ten outstanding performances scheduled. We will have several visiting conductors and many soloist this season, with a special Holiday program in December. Opening night they performed compositions all written by Mexican composers and the young man sitting in front of me was one of them (Alejandro Basulto – Pueblos Mágicos ). I was so moved by the music, I had a vision which I wrote a poem about the next morning.

Pueblos Mágicos

By Alejandro Basulto

A visual tribute in writing by – D.G. Heath

 

Hushed silence blankets the pueblo in the early dawn

A crescendo strikes as the first sunbeam stirs the sleepy village to life and the day begins.

Thin and silvery, a gossamer spider’s web of morning mist covers the smooth peaceful water of the lily pond.

A songbird is awakened from his roost in the tall trees as he gives voice to the light of a new day.

Slowly, the hazy-veil of sparkling jewels laced with rainbow prisms and twinkling diamonds ascends from the surface of the pond, floating gently on invisible wisps of air.

Dazzling white lilies, surrounded by velvet green pads glistening with dew drops, silently stretch their petals to greet the sun’s rays.

A tiny frog hops from pad to pad creating ripples like gentle waves on the pond as a golden fish jumps in delight.

Swirling like smoke as it lifts, the magical mirage vanishes, slipping silently between the lush green leaves of tall trees.

A single butterfly descends on a lily, quenching his thirst with the flower’s fresh nectar.

Swiftly other butterflies, flitting and flying helter-skelter, merge with him for the morning feast on the pond.

As if on cue with the music, they take flight in unison, a mass of iridescent color in blues and greens dancing on air.

Swaying to the rhythm of life, they dart to the right, then to the left – first up then down flowing like waves above the pond, as directions change with mastered orchestration.

 

Wings by the thousands glitter and glisten in the rays of sunlight, moving with weightless grace as they perform their ritual dance.

Pueblo villagers begin to appear as they watch with awe the precision choreography of this mating flight.

Moving in mass not a gossamer wing is out of sync as the living cloud circles the air in a vortex of harmony.

Rising higher and higher they ascend in silence and burst like fireworks sending sparks in all directions.

Disappearing into the canopy and dense foliage of the trees rustling in the breeze, they have found their mate and the cycle of life begins again.

 

The first art gallery show of the season will be this Friday at the Galeria La Eskalera. The invitation arrived last week. It is listed as one of the five galleries in Merida that you should not miss – five stars by trip advisor – yelp and inspirock. Always a festive occasion well attended by art lovers.

September 15/16 is Independence Day in Mexico or “El Grito” as it is called by the people of Mexico. The celebration starts with numerous parties in all of the parks around town. At midnight in the main plaza of each city, the mayor, governor or most important government official will ring a bell and shout the words VIVA MEXICO! Then all the thousands gathered in the plaza will shout back…VIVA MEXICO! As loud as they can. This is done three times – fireworks go off and the celebrations with entertainment, bands, dancing, food and drink go on until the wee hours of the next morning. Then there is a morning parade on Sept 16th down Paso Montejo and the street in front of our casa all the way to the main plaza.

John and I had our annual appointment with our dermatologist. Next will be the yearly eye examination and last be not least a visit to our GP. We do our best to stay in good health and have always used preventive health care options. All was well for both of us – nothing serious to worry about. I usually by-pass anything that is cosmetic. Why bother at 75?

We are planning a trip to Campeche this fall and one to Puebla in the spring. I’m thinking Antigua, Guatemala next August for our 48th anniversary celebration and two birthdays – we shall see.

My newest book has been released on Amazon. And already picking up in sales.

D.G. Heath Mystery Collection

Three mysteries in a single book. Here is a quick overview of each story.

Double Martini – Dead men don’t send emails…or do they? When Laura Clark, a Silicon Valley CEO, and founder of her own high tech company, receives an email from her dead husband, she is forced to seek guidance from the realm of the spirit world, which draws her halfway across the globe to the bowels of the ancient mystic city of Istanbul and to a love and life from her past. Lara, with hope in her heart, descends into an eerie and mysterious underground cathedral with the echoing sound of dripping water veiled in darkness, seeking to find – but knowing not what fate awaits her.

Web of Intrigue – Carlotta’s scream, on a quiet morning, could be heard across the sapphire blue Mediterranean Sea when she discovers the body of her lover, cargo shipping giant, Ricardo Orcini, floating in the pool at his elegant Villa Marquesa, sending the sleepy Isle of Capri and Inspector Mario Regetti into a web of intrigue, suspense and danger. A renowned antiquities collector is dead. Murder, robbery and romance lead us to the Capri Palace Hotel, the stately Menton Abbey in England, private yachts, ancient hidden passages, and a dark grotto, as Regetti follows his instincts to solve the crimes and capture the spider in his own web.

Codes and Confessions – What is the story behind a mysterious art deco chest delivered in 2017 to New York interior designer, Joel Wilson? A note hidden inside takes him to England to search for answers and find information about a long lost relative who disappeared without a trace in 1939. Secrets, rumors, lies and confessions abound as genealogist, Karen Davies, digs into his family history and discovers the possibility of great wealth and inheritance to a title. Will he become “Lord of the manor?” Follow Joel in his quest to find the truth. 

Mystery Collection – Book Two will be out next Spring with three more mysteries. Good bedtime stories.

Later my friends – time to write.

David ( D.G. Heath )

Mystery Writing…

When I began writing four years ago at the age of 71, I didn’t have a clue what I should write about. Other writers and instructors indicated I should write about things I knew – things that I had had experienced…my family and friends, guests at our country inn, places I had traveled, where I had lived, and my work. It all sounded too easy. Would people want to know that much about me? Would my life (although a most interesting life, I must admit) – make readers want to purchase the book?

My first book, Tales from a Country Inn, took the better part of three years to complete – writing and rewriting, editing and rewriting then editing the rewrites became a mind boggling effort. I was combing through chapters in my sleep, knowing all the time that it would not be perfect – first tries rarely are. As a matter of fact…98% of what is written is never perfect. I’m an avid reader and I’m constantly finding mistakes that the writers, editors, publishers and printers have missed. Perhaps it wasn’t their mistakes but we have to be honest…nothing in life is (or should be) perfect.

I was given a writing assignment to create a fictional short story. Each person in class picked a topic based on a single sentence. I selected: Dead men don’t send emails…or do they? I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries, following Law and Order and CSI programs on TV. For many years I read Stephen Saylor’s fictional mysteries based on historical happenings in the days of the Roman Empire. Mystery Theatre and other BBC programs captured my attention and allowed me to escape into another world. I was inspired by Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun. Inspector Hercule Poirot was my hero.

Characters and settings are what moves the story ahead. Characters must be developed both visually and with voice to be real and acceptable to the reader. Characters can also hide their inner feelings and designs. Giving a character actions is not always easy – put yourself in their place – act out the part. What is their body language saying – watch their eyes, their ears, their facial expressions, their hands, arms and legs – give them life and movement.

Don’t put words in their mouth that they wouldn’t say. Know their level of education and how they would speak. Some characters have no voice (think of The Miracle Worker) – yet they speak with their bodies. In the movie Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts didn’t have to say she was a hooker – she looked, walked and dressed the part…you knew it before she climbed down the fire escape and before she spoke a word.

When you describe a scene put yourself at the scene. What do you see? Is there color – is it drab or spooky – is there action…who or what is moving? Use your five senses – see, touch, hear, taste and smell what surrounds you. That will place the reader in the picture. Try not to make a laundry list…incorporate what you see with fantasy, suspense, hunger and a need to remember important items that add to the story and may be used later.

Research: With the help of Google now days it is easy to research places, people, fashions, directions, history and even futuristic ideas. Cities of the future can be envisioned by using cities of the past. Check out the ancient cities of the Maya, Egypt, the Inca’s and Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon or perhaps some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renderings that never got built (too futuristic or too costly) – just a few suggestions…let your mind wander in a world of fantasy and remember – you don’t have to build it, accept in your reader’s mind.

I tend to work on two or three stories at the same time. Well…not at the same time – but I go from one to another. Most writers develop “writer’s block”. Moving away from one story often allows the brain to free itself before coming back with new ideas. So to speak – it cracks the block and lets new light shine through the cracks.

This may be more than you wanted to know about writing, but it is my way of introducing my next book: D.G. HEATH – Mystery Collection. Three mysteries in one book – each with a different take on mystery. Available on Amazon this Fall.

Double Martini – Web of Intrigue – Codes and Confessions 

Let me know if I have been true to myself, my teachings and a writer worth reading. I hope you like mystery. I do.

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D.G. Heath

Grab Your Hard Hats!

When we first moved to Merida in 2013 we knew we would be doing some remodeling on our newly purchased home. We had learned from previous experience what it is like to live in a construction environment.

We had built our mountain getaway home and guest house in the Tehachapi Mountains of California in 1982 from the ground up – an experience that we will never forget. The knowledge we stored from that labor of love has come in handy when it comes to construction.

However, in the Yucatan, construction takes on a different meaning, with different materials, different tools and of course an new understanding of ancient traditions. When we had our country inn in New Mexico, we built and moved four times in sixteen years and never left the 225 acre property. Perhaps you might call us compulsive builders. We remodeled the inn and restaurant three times in 20 years – with the intentions of improving and enhancing the property each time.

So…her we are in Merida and our first project was to totally remodel our master bedroom and bath at the back of the house while we camped out in the guest room upstairs.

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                                                                 In the beginning

                       Letting in the light / adding pasta tile / Shower with a garden view

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                Fill for the new tile floor in the bedroom (needed to raise it 7 inches)

Living in Centro has its special quirks. We learned that all building materials (cement blocks, bags of gravel, sand and cement –  tools and equipment had to be brought in through the front doors (properties don’t’ have a rear entrance). This meant that all construction debris had to be carried out the same way in reverse – through the courtyard, kitchen, dining room and living room with constant traffic moving back and forth – got the picture?

Next in October 2013 we tackled painting rooms and installing marble columns in the living/dining room area and the back portal while having some custom furniture made for kitchen storage and master bedroom closets.

                                             The bleak but sturdy bare bones in 2013

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                    Starting to look better – The arch needs something to hold it up – 

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                      There – that’s much better but the process isn’t finished yet.

In 2015 we made the decision to put a plunge pool in the center courtyard. The hot summer months were taking some getting use to. This took a month of construction (again…in and out the front doors.

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                                          The small courtyard needed some work

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                                        The improvements made a big difference.

And now we are starting to remodel half of the kitchen which is suppose to only take two weeks. I took some before photos and then the after photos.

The work begins with demolition of the counters and preparation of the work area

                    BEFORE ABOVE

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     AFTER

      BEFORE –  Concrete sinks are not pretty and hard to keep clean

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A heavy gage stainless farm sink  imported from the US works much better and the tile back-splash with mosaic tile accents give it a punch.

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Shelf down lights are soft white LED – Cabinets are hard wood with stainless pulls.

We did not do this ourselves but it is our design and was well executed by our contractor – on time and on budget.

I hope this is the last construction zone we have to live in, However… if our ship comes in, we may bite the bullet and redo the guest bedroom and bath…but that’s another story.

Meanwhile we keep the hard hats handy.