Category Archives: Mexico

Ten Abandonded Places

My friend Michelle, who lives in Hong Kong often posts photos of abandoned places she comes upon in the city. Another Facebook friend Jim from Pennyslvania, takes photos of abandoned buildings. Jim and Michelle inspired me to look back through my photos searching for abandoned places  I have photographed.

I was visiting Herschel Saskatachewan doing research for a novel when I photographed this abandoned barn

I was visiting Herschel Saskatachewan doing research for a novel in the fall of 2012 when I photographed this abandoned barn

This is only one of hundreds of unfinished and abandoned homes we saw in Jamaica

This is only one of many unfinished and abandoned homes I photographed in Jamaica in January of 2014

We were on a trip to Savannah Georgia when I photographed this abandoned house

On a trip to Savannah Georgia in 2006 I photographed this abandoned house

I chaperoned a student trip to Cambodia in 2011 and photographed this abandoned temple in Angkor Wat

I chaperoned a student trip to Cambodia in 2011 and photographed this abandoned temple in Angkor Wat

Of course the buildings in Pompei Italy were abandoned for good reason as I discovered on a 2010 trip to Italy

Of course the buildings in Pompei Italy were abandoned for good reason as I discovered on a 2010 trip to Italy

While biking in Yangshou China in 2005 I photographed this abandoned house

While biking in Yangshou China in 2005 I photographed this abandoned house

We drove by this abandoned windmill in 2011 in Ukraine. It was built by Mennonites.

We drove by this abandoned windmill in 2011 in Ukraine. It was built by Mennonites.

In 2013 we visited the abandoned cliff dwellings of the Salado people built in the 1300s in the Tonto Forest in Arizona

In 2013 we visited the abandoned cliff dwellings of the Salado people built in the 1300s in the Tonto Forest area of Arizona

Abandoned temple in Tulum Mexico photographed in 2006

Abandoned temple in Tulum Mexico photographed in 2006

In November of 2010 when we visited Bangkok I photographed this abandoned graveyard overgrown with weeds

In November of 2010 we visited Bangkok and I photographed this abandoned graveyard overgrown with weeds

Other 10 Posts

Ten Things I’ll Remember About the Ballet Going Home Star

Ten Favorite Things About Arizona So Far

Ten Remembrance Day Images

Ten Things About Tulum

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Filed under Arizona, Herschel, Italy, Mexico, Nature, Reflections, Thailand, Ukraine

Ten Things About The Tulum Ruins in Mexico

1. The Tulum ruins are located along the Caribbean Sea.

2.  Tulum was occupied by a little over a thousand people from 1200-to the mid 1500’s. 

3. Tulum was protected on the seaside by tall cliffs and on the land side by a 5 meter high wall.  

4. Tulum was a trading seaport- a hub for the obsidian trade. Salt and textiles were imported and feathers and copper exported. 

5. Three main temples dominate the site- The Temple of the Frescoes, Temple of the Descending God and God of the Winds Temple.

6. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans.

7. The architecture of the buildings in Tulum resembles what can be found in other Mayan cities like Chichen Itza.

8.Tulum was conquered by the Spanish and the citizens died from diseases the Europeans introduced. 

9. Two British explorers John Stephens and Frederick Catherwood first wrote about Tulum in 1843 in their book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. 

10. Tulum is one of the most visited tourist spots in Mexico. 

Other posts about Mexico……..

Mayan Human Sacrifice-Just a Myth?

Swimming in a Cenote

You Wouldn’t Believe What You Can See on a Golf Course in Mexico

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Filed under History, Mexico, Travel

You Wouldn’t Believe What You Can See On A Golf Course in Mexico

iguana golf course cancun

golfing can fun

turtle cancun golf course

coati cancun

flowers cancun

crocodile cancun

bird in cancun

flowers cancun

deer cancun

palm cancun

iguana cancun

iguna cancun

rock cancun

golfing cancunOther posts………

Georgia O Keefe Inspired Me

The Flowers of Jamaica

A Walk at Louise Lake

Walk at Hillside Beach

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Filed under Mexico, Nature, Sports, Travel

Lifestyles of the Rich

The resort where we are staying in Cancun Mexico offered two free golf games at its very nice course if we agreed to tour the newest rooms added to the resort. It was a deal my golf loving husband couldn’t pass up. Consequently we got an up close and personal view of the latest luxury suite at the resort. You can reserve a room there for one week of the year for only a $300,000 investment and a cool $5000 or so a night whenever you use it. A bargain our salesperson told us because a similar suite in Las Vegas would run some $15,000 a night.  You get your own personal little office.

Five bedrooms each with their own ensuite and hot tub that sleep at least twelve guests comfortably and privately. Each bedroom has its own sitting area and big screen television.You not only get this diningroom but your own personal chef and serving personell. 

You have your own personal masseuse and driver at your beck and call and a nanny for your children. There’s a movie screening room.

A gaming table area.

Your own pool table. And your own private pool and barbeque area. 

The view from the balcony isn’t shabby either. And who would be rich enough to afford all this? Apparently plenty of folks. This suite isn’t even finished and already seven people have plunked down their $300,000 and are ready to pay $5,000 a night to spend time there. 

The whole thing seemed a bit surreal. What would it be like to live like that? Tomorrow we head out to the golf course. Hopefully we’ll have a good round. 

Other posts about Mexico……..

Swimming in a Cenote

Mayan Human Sacrifice

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Filed under Mexico, Travel

Swimming In A Cenote

Sacred-Cenote-of-Chichén-ItzáThe warm dark water was refreshing. Little black fish darted around my legs as I swam out to the center of the pool. I looked up to see fifty- foot long, string-like tree roots hanging down in a kind of see through curtain. Colorful birds darted through that curtain and soared up to find their nests. High overhead were strangely formed stalactites. One of them looked like a wasp’s nest, papery grey and pock marked. Light streamed in from above, glancing off the mossy rock walls. Ferns and leafy, flowering plants grew from crevices in the stones.

swimming in chichen itza denoteOn a trip to Cancun I had the opportunity to test the waters of a Mexican cenote. There are over 3000 cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan province. Divers and visitors have explored only a tenth of them. Many remain hidden in the jungle. Cenotes are fresh water underground caves or sink holes. The ground in the northern part of the Yucatan tends to be gravelly and permeable allowing rainwater to filter through it and form caverns. These natural reservoirs can become very deep before they hit a layer of rock that prevents the water from filtering further down. The water in cenotes is turquoise and usually a pleasant 78 degrees. The cenote we swam in was quite small but some are thousands of meters in length and can be connected to other cenotes through underwater passageways.cenote cichen itzaThe ancient Mayans thought the cenotes were sacred because they were their only source of fresh water. The cenotes were considered the home of Chac the Mayan god of rain. Skulls wedged between rocks in many cenotes have led archeologists to believe that human sacrifices were made to Chac in the cenotes. I was a little scared my husband might become one of those human sacrifices. 

cancun_065He decided to climb up the steep stone steps on one side of the cenote and jump from this precarious position landing way down in the waters below. He survived the steep plummet however and enjoyed it enough to try it several times. Luckily he did not suffer the fate of the Mayan sacrificial victims who were thrown into the cenote’s waters and were never seen again.

cenote chichen itzaThe cenote we swam in was near the ruins of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza. The layer of limestone rock on its surface had caved in allowing light to filter through and create lovely rainbows and shadows. We visited in the late afternoon so there weren’t that many other swimmers around. At one point I had the water of the pool all to myself. Swimming through the sun lit tree roots I got an eerie sort of feeling imagining all the people who had visited this same subterranean cave over the last two thousand years.

cenote chichen itzaAt some of the spas in the high-end resorts in Cancun they pour water from a cenote over your body. It is said the water is sacred and will bring peace and healing. At other spas they take mud and moss collected from a cenote and put it on your skin. Apparently it keeps you looking youthful. These special cenote treatments can cost over $100. Luckily I got to use the cenote’s waters for free. A yoga expert who offers tours of the Yucatan takes her devotees to a cenote to swim. She says swimming in a cenote can make you wiser and give you a longer life. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see whether my cenote experience has that kind of magical impact on me.

Other posts about Mexico……

Mayan Human Sacrifice- A Myth

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Filed under Mexico, Nature, Travel

Mayan Human Sacrifice- Just a Hollywood Myth?

Dave with our former student Renan at Chichen Itza

Dave with our former student Renan at Chichen Itza

” It may be a myth. If it happened, it wasn’t on the grand scale that most people think.” We were visiting the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan province of Mexico with Renan an exchange student from Mexico both Dave and I had taught in our high school classes. Our expert guide had been hired by Renan’s father. The guide repeatedly made reference to the long held belief that Mayans practiced human sacrifice. He wanted us to question that assumption.

Mel Gibson’s Hollywood blockbuster Apocolyptico brought the history of the Mayan people into the limelight. Gibson’s movie recounts in gory detail the human sacrificial practices of the Mayans and cites them as the reason for the eventual downfall of Mayan civilization.

Our guide at Chichen Itza questioned Gibson’s theory. He said human sacrifice might never have happened among the Mayans, or if it did, it wasn’t a frequent practice. He told us Spanish Christians invented or greatly exaggerated the extent of the ritual of human sacrifice. They wanted to portray the Mayans as heathens in need of conquering and conversion.

Dave at the ball court at Chichen Itza

Dave tries shooting a basket at the ball court at Chichen Itza

Our guide, anxious to downplay the human sacrifice angle, wanted to show us all the progressive things the Mayans accomplished. We visited the massive Temple of Kukulkan. Shaped like a pyramid its construction encodes detailed information about the sophisticated Mayan calendar. We saw the Observatory, the building from which Mayan astronomers plotted the movements of the planets, the sun and the moon.

At the Ball Court we learned how highly trained Mayan athletes engaged in competitive sporting events. The Ball Court offered a stunning example of Mayan acoustical technology. A whisper at one end of the site could easily be heard by someone standing 545 feet away at the opposite end.

At the Temple of Ten Thousand Columns

At the Temple of Ten Thousand Columns

We had our picture taken at the Temple of a Thousand Columns. It once housed an outdoor market where Mayan commercial ventures flourished. We stopped to admire beautiful designs on another building called The Nunnery. Its frescoes and engravings are a testament to the artistic achievements of the Mayans. Our guide took us past a large set of artillery-shell-shaped stones and showed us how they produced melodic tones when tapped with a stick. The Mayans were clearly accomplished musicians.

chichen itza mexicoAfter our tour I was convinced the Mayan civilization had been highly advanced but did that necessarily mean they hadn’t practiced human sacrifice? I had read that hundreds of bodies of supposed sacrifice victims had been found at Chichen Itza. Our guide had explanations. He said the mass graves the Spanish conquerors found were for victims of warfare not human sacrifice. He said other sites where bodies were discovered served as burial grounds for royalty, not death chambers for human sacrifice victims.

Mel Gibson’s movie Apocolyptico suggests the Mayans’ human sacrifice practices created a blood lust for killing that eventually destroyed their society. Some historians would disagree and claim it was contact with the European diseases the Spanish brought to Mexico that decimated the Mayans. Who is right?

Our guide explains his theories about the Mayans

Our guide explains his theories about the Mayans

We may never know. Unfortunately zealous Spanish priests anxious to eradicate the ‘heathen’ writings of the Mayan people had most of their manuscripts burned. Only a few remain and they do not provide enough information to decode Mayan hieroglyphics and thus find definitive answers to historians’ questions about the Mayans.

Dave at the Mayan ruins at Tulum

Dave at the Mayan ruins at Tulum

History is constantly being rewritten as new information is brought to light and new questions are asked. Mel Gibson’s movie raised some troubling questions about the Mayan people. This may not be a bad thing. Perhaps it will encourage more North American tourists to leave the beaches and resorts of Mexico, and travel to places like Chichen Itza and Tulum to discover answers to questions about the great Mayan civilization for themselves.

Other posts about myths…….

The Colosseum – No Christians Fed to Lions 

The Catacombs- Myth and Reality

The Myth That It’s Not Safe to Live in Winnipeg’s Exchange District

 

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Filed under History, Mexico, Movies, Religion, Travel