Side-tracked by a museum

We were out for a stroll on Sunday when we happened upon a little museum in Mejorada Plaza, known as Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan. Presently there is a show of photographs made by a German guy who came to Mexico in 1905 to make large-format landscape images, but stayed to take some good photos of the revolution in 1913. I especially enjoyed some of his landscape images which include native residents.

An example, depicting a man, a donkey, a volcano and some mountains off in the distance, is an image labeled Indigenous Next to his Burro in a Barn. (The barn is an A-frame structure only about two meters tall, sided with thatch, which mimics the shape of a distant volcano; the farmer, crowned with straw hat, is too tall to fit into the barn.) These photos are worth seeing. The photographer’s name is Hugo Brehme.

The other salas, upstairs, have some intricate and compelling craftwork: ceramics, jewelry, vestments, textiles, folk art, sculpture. We lingered and delighted ourselves with the work, which is mostly antique, but some is more recent. And there is a store on premises which offers some fine and affordable examples of the ongoing work being done in Mexico. The museum is located at c.57 y c.50-a, facing Mejorada park. It opens at 10 a.m. daily, except Mondays.





“FAT TUESDAY*” PARADE (day before Lent)

PAMELA is a very handsome woman; and she’s got stamina! – going the six mile distance of the parade route. Some of her age-mates dance that distance! For a look at some of those dancers click HERE.  ¶For some fun videos of Monday’s parade, including cultural dances – one couple wearing native vestido, huipile on STILTS! – visit my friend Hammockman’s blog, HERE. He’s done some good nighttime video, nicely edited. (*Fat Tuesday is perhaps a term only used in New Orleans. MĂ©rida and New Orleans have some strong cultural ties, but I’m not sure if the locals translate this term directly, so I may be generating some cultural noise by using it. I’d love to learn the local term.)



This morning, a Sunday, after attending the Carnaval parade of last night, we were serenaded by a vigorous and fully felt orchestral performance of birdsong.There were doves, orioles, great-tailed grackles – too many varieties for this rookie to name. I’m attempting to add a soundtrack to this post of the real Birds concert, which I recorded this morning. We’ll see how I do. And I’ve also provided this clickable link  which will transport you directly to some videos and photos of the parade. Don’t miss the wikipedia account in the COMMENT section about a DJ who used to play five minutes of birdsong each morning at the start of his show, for public awakening.


IZAMAL: Maya “capital” of Yucatan

The pyramid at Izamal: This earthworks takes up an entire city block. The photo doesn’t do it justice. While what remains of the structure may not be as impressive as Uxmal or ChichĂ©n (both extensively restored), the amount of material alone, used to elevate the city block, is stunning.

While Merida has long been termed The White City, it is a patchwork of colors; Izamal is virtually all yellow. Merida is the capital of the State of Yucatan; Izamal could be called a capital of the Maya (los Yucatecos), at least in Yucatan (as opposed to Chiapas, or nations to the south). Some English is spoken in Izamal to welcome tourists, and some Spanish, too; but the predominant language is Mayan. The people are exceedingly friendly. High speed passenger railwork has been started (funded) this month. Eventually a modern rail line will transit from Merida to the “Maya Riviera” south of Cancun.

We toured a B&B called Macan Ché which is an oasis of lovely tropical landscaping and clever design. The few guests lunching or using wifi in the central dining palapa seemed at bliss.  I would hope to stay here on coming back for a longer visit.

The pyramid was the big draw for me. Some may prefer the fortress known as The Convent. But I’m not a fan of tearing down the worship structures of others to recycle their materials as building blocks for your own edifice. Sorry, but all religious histories seem to have their darkly-hypocritical underbellies. (Sometimes it’s downright embarrassing to attempt to pass as a Christian, even a heretical one without brand. SEE COMMENT.)


Imitation cenote pool built into ancient coral bedrock.

All taxi’s in Izamal are horse-drawn (or tricycle powered). They queue up adjacent to the main plaza, across from the convent. We took a ride. The driver let me steer. Ha! The horse knew the way.



An Italian straw hat from my collection (which is sadly too small for me to wear).

An article  about Dr Suess and his hats has me fondly remembering an apparently formative fascination which has grown out of the Good Doctor’s famous children’s book The Cat in the Hat, (El Gato Ensombrerado). ¶ The article mentions a show of his hats which will be touring the country. Oh, how I hope it comes to Buffalo! (The clickable link above should transport you directly to NYTimes, without requiring registration or costing your account; but for those who don’t want to expend a precious credit to read it, may I suggest simply turning on Private Browsing? The airways and the internet are, and should remain, free.)

If that link no longer works, you might enjoy this excerpt, from a short story:  

[. . .]  Twelve new hats joined the repertoire, including a beret, a bandanna, a small straw hat, and a sombrero.

Naturally, we were a little alarmed. Perelmann’s son’s evenings, the graduate student reported, were now mere blurs of hat transitions. Nothing stayed on his head for long. But reality, we assumed, would sooner or later impose a limit on his mania. There are only so many kinds of hats, just as there are only so many relations that can possibly obtain between a father and a son. In due course Perelmann’s son would run out of either hats or relations, we thought—probably hats—and thereafter he would return to reason.

By the end of the fall semester we knew something had to be done. The explosion of hats and relations had not abated. Left alone, we realized, Perelmann’s son would partition his relationship with his father ad infinitum, and for each infinitesimal slice of relationship he would purchase a hat. Ultimately, he would turn his relationship with his father—by nature, one simple thing—into something infinitely complex, and his hat collection would, correspondingly, grow without bound, and he would wind up destroying himself. His analytical tendency, along with the huge hat collection that resulted from it, would obliterate him.

So, one morning, in an attempt to save Perelmann’s son from himself, a group of graduate students and junior faculty members slipped, with the department chair’s blessing, into his apartment. (He was at a Perelmann conference.) We gathered all the hats and put them in garbage bags—a hundred and twenty-eight hats in twelve garbage bags—and got them out of there.

But in our hearts we must have known that we were treating the symptom, not the cause. Yesterday, according to our informant, Perelmann’s son spent all day and all night in a ten-gallon hat of thus far unknown paternal associations.  SOURCE:  NewYorker Magazine.




Photo by Rich Cougar, PhotoBucket

Groundhog Day had always been a favorite holiday, until we started wintering in Yucatan. So far this winter, our lowest overnight temperature has been 590F (15c). Today’s high, which was probably the coolest day we’ve seen this winter, was only 720F (22c). The question of six more weeks of winter has thus become moot. Tomorrow’s the day. Watch the movie (or not). But don’t get stuck. Get over it. (Or head south.)