Posted on March 28, 2011
As I was telling you last time, Edzna Mayan site is at about 60 km from the city of Campeche where we stayed for one night only, in our way to Merida. The city of Campeche, actually San Francisco de Campeche is the capital of Campeche region where there is a lot to see. Unfortunately for us, we had time to see only the beautiful Edzna Mayan city I have already told you about.
I will not say much about Campeche city about which you can read on many sites – I’ll only say it was the main city of the Mayan region Ah Kin Pech and it belongs to UNESCO world heritage list.
We arrived in the city around 6 p.m and, obviously, we went first to check in at the hotel I had booked - Hotel del Mar, a Best Western hotel that I had chosen well. It was nice and comfortable, at a reasonable price (about 60 euro/double room breakfast included), it had an outside pool and, what is more important, it was facing the sea.
Another beautiful hotel where you might stay in Campeche is Castermar which is closer to the center, looks very well and its prices are also reasonable. Furthermore it has very good comments.
After checking in and refreshing a little bit, we had just a little time to catch some light and admire and blue, quiet sea.
We then headed towards the center to look for a restaurant to have dinner. As it was at the beginning of January, the entire central square (Independence Square) was highly lighted and decorated for winter holidays. It was rather strange for us, coming from a country with serious winters, with cold and snow, to look at the Christmas decoration at 25 degrees Celsius (like in Ciudad de Mexico as well).
In the central square there is a very beautiful cathedral that was very nicely put to value by the lighting on its facade.
The first restaurant we stopped at is probably also the best known and appreciated because of its traditional atmosphere and location - Casa Vieja – which is at the first floor of a colonial building facing the square.
However we stayed there just for a beer because we did not feel inspired by the menu, the service did not seem great and it actually felt too touristic.
So we left, turned right and found a local restaurant, La Parroquia, where we ate very well and had some very good cocktails as well. Prices were very reasonable and most Mexicans were eating there. La Parroquia is also a hostel but I would not recommend it.
Practically this was our experience in Campeche.
One of the most important things we missed in the region was Calakmul biosphere reserve which is at about 320 km from Campeche town, and where there is a very large number of animals, insects, birds, reptiles and plants and where there is also a very impressive Mayan archaeological site. I still regret not having seen it. I only saw pictures in the albums and on the Internet. Fantastic!
Maybe next time.
Posted on March 21, 2011
After a rather long silence dur to fortuitous circumstances, here I am again, ready to continue with the story of my Mexican adventures.
As I said in the last post (a rather long time ago I’m afraid…) we stayed in Palenque two nights. The Palenque site practically took us a full day to visit – it is a large and rich site where one can easily spend half a day.
We arrived in Palenque in the after-noon and we obviously first checked in at the hotel. I had chosen Plaza Palenque and Garden Hotel based both on its position (closer to the road to the archeological site) and of course on its price. It proved to be a good choice; not extraordinarily fancy, but clean and comfortable enough at about 55 euro/double room breakfast included.
The parking and the Internet acces is free and they have a nice garden (maybe not entirely valorised) and a nice outside pool. They had parrots,
and coatis (a sort of rather large and very funny rodents who can however be rather aggresive). The birds seemed to be OK in their large cages if we judge by the sounds they were continuously making.
The parrots imitated any sound you would make and we’ve succeeded in teaching them how to whistle after girls.
The coatis however seemed rather unconfortable and nervous in their cages. I saw some of these animals in Iguazu forest in Argentina and I realized coatis need to be free. The back garden of the hotel where the coatis were could have also been a little better arranged and valued.
The nice part was the pool which all rooms were practically facing, with a little island and a small bridge and which was cleaned daily.
Breakfast was varied and very good and there is also a little bar whwre you can have a coffee and play some pool.
Services are rather good and the only problem was the noise made by the birds, especially at very inappropriate morning hours. Nothing that can’t be solved with ear-plugs.
You can also try Chablis Palenque Hotel which has double rooms at 34 euro whithout breakfast), pool, garden, free Parking and Internet.
A well seen hotel is Mision Palenque with double rooms at 45 euro (whithout breakfast). It has sports fields, pool, spa, a very spectacular location, free parking and Internet.
The town is not very big but very picturesque with a mixture of traditional and touristic atmosphere without however that artificial air that touristic towns sometimes have. That is probably also because of the many shops with Mexican crafts full of hats, shirts, carpets, wooden objects, scarfs, toys porcelain and clay pots, all in great, vivid colours.
Furthermore, like almost everywhere in Mexico, we ate very well.
If you get there, try Trotamundo, a traditional restaurants where most Mexicans eat and they have great tacos, quesadillas and a lot of other meals at cheap prices.
Try also Maya’s where you can also eat well and at reasonable prices. You can also find, in many places, very good cocktails and you can trust me as I’m a great fan of cocktails and I’ve tried a lot….
I’ll have to write a special article only about the Mexican food because I liked it so much and for those who like spicy food, it’s heaven in Mexico.
Posted on February 16, 2011
I thought I might share with you a few tips on what teckels are and on how you should treat us.
As you probably know, our official name is Dachshund and we are hunting dogs. We come in three sizes (but none too big) and three hair covers (short, wired and long haired). I am a wired haired teckel and I’m cute (have I said that before?!).
We all have a long body on short legs because the idea was to create a dog that would be able to get inside a burrow of a fox or a badger.
I personally have never been hunting and I’ve never seen a fox. My father went hunting many a time and all say he was extremely courageous and that he would even go after wild boars.
I watched him digging in the garden after who knows what. I don’t really understand this habit – I did it once because I could definitely sense something underground that I wanted to provoke, but having dirt all over my nose and paws was not such a great experience.
We are intelligent creatures with a strong, independent personality. Aka says I have a too strong personality and complains a lot about my independence. She sometimes calls me “kitten” - as if I didn’t know what she implies. But, I’m too dignified to make a fuss about it.
Besides, being so independent is both good for me and for her. I’m not desperate if I stay alone at home for several hours. I sleep and I play with my toys and I feel fine. I don’t bark hysterically as if I were abandoned in the middle of nowhere without food or water.
Teckels are also stubborn and if I take as granted what Aka says, I’m exceptionally stubborn.
So I protest when I’m moved from a place where I feel fine! And I growl when my vets take my temperature. So what? Do you like when somebody is placing a rather cold object you know where? Besides, they already know it’s just a protest.
On the other hand, I did have some tendencies to bite when I was younger but Aka convinced me that this is not such an elegant behaviour and I always know when I exaggerate with my playing with her hand if she starts complaining.
Well, if you want your teckel to be less aggressive (remember we’re hunting dogs) you’d better train it by rewarding-methods and with patience. We can be very sociable if you show us how and reward us for our successes with something good and a nice word. You also need to train your dog in its relationship with other animals like cats for instance so that it doesn’t treat pets like game.
Aka has found out that she may get much better results by talking calmly and nicely than by shouting or forcing me. I always listen when she asks me nicely. I remember one time she was aggressive in ordering me to get down of the couch from between two nice, young ladies that needed my attention and were willing to pay extensive attention to me. I growled rather angrily in protest and the next thing I remember is that I was down with my paws in the air and Aka bit my ear. Can you believe it? She played the alpha dog! Well, it worked but still that was not the best method, honestly.
Time to go – it’s long past my bed time. I’ll tell you more some other time.
Posted on February 12, 2011
Stunning, impressive, spectacular are all Maya sites I’ve seen in Mexico. And with all their common elements, there are not two alike.
We liked a little bit more Palenque site than Teotihuacan(although the latter is more impressive as surface ) also because it is not placed on a flat area. The site is located in Sierra de San Juan, at the northern limit of the forested hills of Chiapas region.
The Mayan name of the antique town is Lakam Ha, meaning the Great Waters, due to the many rivers and falls in the area.
One of the theories related to the present name of both the ancient and the new towns, Palenque, is that it comes form the Mayan name bahlam kin (The Jaguar-Sun), meaning the place where the sun sets to the beyond world, the jaguar world.
The site dates back from around 100 B.C. but its real beginnings as a town date somewhere around the 4th century A.D. under the leadership of Bahlum Kuk (Quetzal Jaguar). The representation of the king, from the Temple of the Foliated Cross, is a quetzal bird (k’uk’ in Mayan) with jaguar ears (b’ahlam in mayan).
(drawing by Merle Green Robertson)
During his 68 year reign, Pakal developed a lot the town, building during his time, the Forgotten Temple, the Temple of the Court, Temple XVIII and VIIIa, the underground galleries and part of the Palace buildings.
But only after you have climbed the steps (and again you’d better be fit for that) and got inside the Palace premises, you discover the other buildings and the site develops in its entire greatness.
I have found a map in one of the booklets I bought there and I have taken a picture of it so that you may see how large the town is with its several buildings.
Certainly the light on the map is no supernatural phenomenon, it’s just the blitz of my camera….:)
This is how the Palace looks like, seen from the Temple of the Cross.
And this is a larger image including at the left at the back, theTemple of Inscriptions.
And this at the left is the Temple of the Sun dedicated to Jaguar Sun god of the beyond world (beautiful duality between the sun as life and light and the jaguar reprsenting the dark land of the other world).
The Temple of the Sun is considered one of the best preserved buildings and the upper laced part is amazing.
If you look at the people in the pictures you’ll realise the size of these buildings and implicitly of the site.
But about the crafts and masks I have discussed earlier.
Visiting the Mayan site takes practically a full day and that is one reason for which we stayed two nights in Palenque. Next time, I’ll tell you about the new town and our hotel.
Posted on February 7, 2011
After Popocatepetl with his lover filled our minds with dreams, we had to go back to reality after landing in Villahermosa. We did not see the town, as beautiful as it may be, because there was not time and our concern was to get the two cars rented online by Alejandro.
Surprise! The car for Alejandro and Fernando was OK but the car I was supposed to drive was not the manual Volgswagen required but an automatic Renault Clio. The explanation – they didn’t have another available car. Just like that! I start swearing instantly because I had not driven an automatic before and the car was a little too small for three people with three-weeks luggage.
Finally, we manage with the luggage, passing a part to the boy’s car and Alejandro shows me how to drive an automatic. I get quickly as it’s not difficult and we start towards Palenque (Chiapas), at 150 km from Villahermosa where we stayed two nights.
But before telling you about Palenque, which is a long story, let’s talk a little about driving in Mexico. I drove there about 1000 km. First of all, that car did not convince me to switch to the automatic system or at least to like it. Honestly, I felt a little annoyed that I could not push it as I wanted it which, actually, it might have been for the best in Mexico. The speed limit was 90 km/h in most cases, on good roads (some with two wide lanes on each sense) where we could have easily driven 150km/h. Over only one part of the road in Yucatan, which looked like a highway (although officially it was not one) we could drive at 110km/h. That was very frustrating!
And he would not let Fernando drive faster either. Any time Fernando would take a little bit of speed to my great delight, Alejandro would just make him slow down.
Well, although frustrating, it was probably a good decision as we were never stopped by the police. We were stopped by the army people at some point but I’ll tell you about that later.
It’s also true that after the boys left Mexico (they had to leave earlier than us because they were supposed to go back to their jobs, to our sadness), during the last two days in Yucatan I drove at about 120km/h without any problems but maybe I was just lucky.
In case you intend to leave the main roads and go to secondary ones, be sure you have a GPS or at least a very good map. We had no GPS but we did have a good detailed map and yet, when we tried to take a shortcut thinking we would get faster to the sites we wanted to visit, we actually wasted time because the roads we not so well signalled and we did not get as easily as we thought, but that again is another story.
Posted on February 1, 2011
I have already said a few things about traveling with your pet either by plane or by car. And I think it’s high time I wrote about ME! That is a well-educated, intelligent, funny, nice, sweet, cute, smart, wire haired teckel or, more pompously said, a Daschund.
What you must know about teckels, if they are at least a little bit like me, is that they are very playful, agile, courageous dogs. They are also independent and extremely stubborn which Aka can definitely confirm .
Most of us are not afraid to travel by car and don’t make a big fuss about traveling at the back.
Aka has a special cover for the back seats that she uses to protect the car
when my paws are full of snow, water or dirt but also to protect me during longer trips.
I don’t need a blanket or a bed, I’m fine with sleeping directly on the back seat.
What I definitely don’t stand is a box or a kernel of any kind. And if you have a teckel, you might want to forget about that. We hate being locked up.
Better a harness attached to the safety belt that leaves us some freedom but also prevents our getting thrown through the windscreen in case of a sudden break.
I am a wire haired teckel and therefore I don’t need any coat because I’m never cold. The short-haired teckels however are very cold-sensitive and they really need a coat for bad and cold weather. What I personaly need is just a raincoat, meaning a simple plastic coat and a little cap to protect me from rain. I don’t like them but they’re useful.
So, remember when packing for your teckel to take a raincoat and a warm coat (if necessary).
Another thing you must remember is that we have three weak points:
1. Our backbone. People say we’re too long for our height – I don’t agree of course, I think we’re perfectly balanced – and that is why we are not supposed to jump from heights because we may endanger or even break our spine. The point is that you must be on your guard because, if most teckels are like me, they will not take this warning into consideration. I’m ready to jump from anywhere!
2. Ears. As most of the long-eared dogs, teckels need special attention – you must take care to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. Otherwise they will easily develop ear infections.
3. Our liver. I know this is valid for other types of dogs as well but teckels are especially sensitive to that especially if they are greedy. Luckily for Aka I’m not. Feed your teckel only with the food your vet advises you to use and most definitely don’t overfeed it. It will vomit and also grow fat which is an additional threat to its spine.
I have some more secrets but I’ll share those later.
Posted on January 27, 2011
Written by Aka
January 2nd finds us in Karla’s garden with luggage and packages, many separation regrets, kisses, hugging, jokes and traces of tears. We leave Karla at the gate and let ourselves be driven by Fernando (Karla’s husband) to the airport from where we’ll get a flight to Villahermosa.
After peacing our sadness with promises and hopes, we regain awareness of tinglings in our feet and stomacks with the thought of our future Maya adventure. The route, prepared for several months will include a flight to Villahermosa (which means beautiful town in Spanish) where two rented cars are waiting for us. During our flight we have a big surprise I had not thought about (to my shame) and which was like a big bonus. Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, seen from the plane, rising as from a different world.
If I hadn’t the pictures to prove it, I would think I’ve dreamt about the Mexican twins. Popocatepetl, which in translation means the “smoking mountain” , also called El Popo or Don Goyo is 5.462 m high and, as you can see from the pictures, it really smokes meaning it’s still active. It last erupted in1994.
Iztaccihuatl which means “the white woman” or “the sleeping woman” and is only about 200 m shorter.
The Aztec story says the two were lovers. Popocatepetl was a worrier who falls in love with the king’s daughter, princess Iztaccihuatl. Back from a military endevour, he finds his lover dead. Iztaccihuatl had killed herself because she had been lied that Popocatepetl was dead on the battlefield. Devastated with grief, Popocatepetltakes the body of his lover to the mountain where he perpares a funeral bed and dies next to her.
The gods, impressed by their story, turn them to mountains to stand aside for ever, for ever waiting. This is how they look like – tall, strange and pure like to eternal lovers. Iztaccihuatl sleeps under the Popocatepetl’s protection who, from time to time, weeps his pain with tears of fire.
Posted on January 25, 2011
While Aka continues her story of Mexico, I continue with my own interests, meaning my travels.
As I’ve already told you, I’ve been several times by car and I do have a lot of experience in the matter so let me give you some more tips related to travels by car with your pets.
You’ve prepared your car, you’ve prepared your pet, you’re now prepared because you know how your pet behaves in a car. What next? Here are a few things you must remember to do or not on your way.
1.Try and stop every 2 hours or so to let your pet out especially dogs – that would give them the opportunity to stretch and move around and visit some bushes. Give your pet some water (you’ve packed bottled water and its bowl I hope). When doing that, use a leash to avoid your pet getting out into the road or street or just running too far from the car. And do not forget to use the scopp and plastic bags if necessary
2.Don’t feed your pet during the travel (even if it has been some time since the last serious meal). If you know your pet has a sensitive stomach that mustn’t be too empty, give it a little pet cracker that would put something in its stomach and keep it occupied at the same time.
3. Give your pet a toy to keep it busy when not sleeping especially if it’s a restless pet.
4. Talk to your pet a lot during the travel just as you would do with a child. We’re very much alike any many things. We need attention, love, attention, attention, attention, love, love……… If your pet is used with the car, doesn’t move around and you’re traveling alone with it yo can even place it on the front seat on your right, on condition you use a pet harness (safety belt).
Posted on January 24, 2011
It was the 31st of December we visited the Anthorpology Museum in Ciudad de Mexico and we stayed there for about 4 hours. We could have stayed much longer for the many things to see there but we had to get some rest and prepare for the New Year’s Eve party.
Karla and her husband Fernando had made reservations for us at a well known club, Meneo dance club, on 315 Nueva York at the corner with Insurgentes Sur(Colonia Nápoles district). It’s a big club with two dance rings where you can dance on latino live music (salsa, merengue…) or disco music. If I remember correctly we paid about 25 dollars each for the evening with two-course meals plus dessert and 2 drinks.
After dressing up for the occasion (well, it’s hard to be too elegant when traveling to a different continent for three weeks) we had some pictures with Alejandro’s family,
and started for the club at around 9:30. We were supposed to get there no later than 10:30 if we wanted to have something to eat too (food was only served until 10:30 after which it was only drinks and fun).
While we stayed waiting to get inside the club, Alejandro had the time to warn us on what nobody had the courage to tell us before; there was artistic programme including one hour with a stand-up comedian. Oh, my God! I was already imagining myself sitting in a chair for an hour listening to stupid, boring staff and furthermore, in SPANISH! I doubted that Ioana’s Spanish or mine was good enough to understand a comedian. Tudor was in bigger trouble as he was not speaking or understanding Spanish at all.
And sure enough we understood only half of what that guy said but, amazingly, we laughed all the time while the Mexicans were roaring all around us and Tudor would desperately ask us “What’s he saying? What did he say? The guy was really good; we did not understand the political and local jokes but we very well understood the social jokes an of course those related to marriage and couples. Moreover, he was a very good mime, which made things easier. Actually it was very funny and we had a great time.
And we danced until 5 o’clock in the morning like everybody there; these guys really knew how to party. Of course, being with Tudor, we showed off with our salsa; what’s the point of being a dance teacher we you don’t show it?! I have never had such a good time on a New Year’s party in a public place before!
On 1st January we had a longer morning in bed (we had to get some sleep….) but not too long because we wanted to wander a little bit more around Karla’s house in Chimalistac, an oasis of vegetation and peace, full of history and beauty that we loved very much. We wanted to say good bye to the houses, the squirels and flowers, the statues,
and this fountain,
which had a beautiful history we succeeded in deciphering by slowly reading and translating this plate.
It starts approximately like this:
The Fountain in the Orchard
Water, earth and lava make and
surround these lands which by
human labour have turned into
gardens, vegetables and architectural art.
In the afternoon we went with Karla, Fernando and their kids in a Sanborn restaurant in San Angel district (Av.Insurgentes corner with Av de la Paz.). A most pleasant farewell dinner in a large, elegant and nice place with waiters dressed in folkloric costumes and great food. (The same chain as the one in Casa de los Azulejos).
Sadly, that was our last day in Ciudad de Mexico where we loved the city, the food, the museums and most of all the people. We were to leave the place next morning to start our travel to the Mayan sites.
That will follow.
Posted on January 22, 2011
So, let us continue, as promised, with some of the things you should know when taking your pet with you in the car.
Before starting on a car travel, you have to prepare the car, your pet and definitely yourself!
Let’s start with the car.
Most people travel with a dog and less with a cat or other pets mainly because us, dogs, love to travel much more than the others. A cat can be very pleased just staying inside and in the safety of a balcony (although I’ve heard of cats that travel all night to come home only in the morning to eat and – but, come now, those are no longer pets, right? Cats as pets is anyway a debatable issue…)
I’m not a very big fan of cats, in fact I have the tendency of chasing them and I am very upset when they cowardly climb a tree where I cannot reach.
Before leaving, cover the floor of the car with some plastic stuff and some paper towel to easily clean the car in case your pet wets the floor. If you intend to travel with a cat, it’s also advisable to place the cat’s litter at the back, behind one of the chairs, because it will recognise and use it.
Get a special cover for the back seats – the hammock type ones are very useful as they also stop the pet from coming to the front seats.
Preparing the pet is a very strong recommendation.
Start taking your pet to small drives to accommodate it with the movement and the environment. Make the drives to places the pet likes such as a park or a visit to friends where he likes to go. The pet will associate the car drive with a pleasant outcome.
When Aka opens the back door for me I am really, really happy because I know that we’ll go somewhere where I can have fun. So, I like it. I don’t even need a carrier or anything like that. I just stay quiet and sleep patiently.
However, bear in mind that not all dogs and definitely not all cats like traveling by car. Some cats may be totally hysterical jumping all over the place including the driver’s head and some dogs can be so scared and uncomfortable that they pee, or throw up or whimper, which is very annoying. These are not the best or safest conditions for driving. Honestly, if a cat or a dog would make such a fuss in my car, it would drive me nuts which means that I would drive the car with the pet in it into the first ditch! Happily, no-one’s letting the wheel in my paws.
If you see your pet is quiet and loves the car, you may let it free (eventually on its pillow or bed). However it is advisable that you use a harness and attach it to the safety belt to avoid throwing your pet out of the seat (or even the window) in case of sudden breaks. Think of your pet a little bit as a child.
If, after several short travels you realize the pet is restless, it’s advisable to take a carrier for it. Just take care to get a big enough one to let your pet move around easily.
I personally hate these things and I guess I’m not the only one. When Aka took me to Bucharest she carried me in one of those she had bought specially for me. Although I was very little and small I’ve always had a great personality and being closed inside a cage was not my idea of going anywhere. So I complained almost all the way until I grew tired and fell asleep.
The next day she drove me to the vet and she thought that if she placed the carrier on the front seat next to her, I would accept it more easily. Wrong! I made such a fuss that she was already half crazy when we arrived at the vet. I barked and whimpered and scratched the bars of the carrier, and growled and barked some more….
The result was that when coming back home she let me out of the carried on the back seat in my bed. I was happy and quiet! And the carrier ended up to be used by Ioana’s cat Moly who actually likes it.
So, you have to adapt to what your pet likes and wants so that you may be both happy.
Before leaving on a longer trip, go to the vet to get directions related to your pet’s health conditions and eventually get some pills, if necessary, if your pet tends to throw up in the car or if it’s too restless.
Let your pet drink enough water before leaving but give it only a light meal preferably at least two hours before leaving to avoid the pet throwing up in the car due to the car movements (just like for humans actually).
Next time I’ll tell what you have to do during the travel.