Day 19: Merida to Uxmal - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 18, 2023

Day 19: Merida to Uxmal

Heart 0 Comment 0

This time we were only passing through Merida, so we did not linger to look at any of  its museums or crafts, or even to check out the various artisanal ice cream shops. Rather we made a bee line for the exit. That is easier said than done, because Merida remains a huge bustling city, without any bikelanes that we know of, except for that stretch on Montejo boulevard. Generally I would call our ride south toward the ring road nerve wracking, and then our traverse of the ring road terrifying. The reason the ring road got this upgrade was that it had no intersections or traffic lights in the area where we needed to cross. Otherwise, if we are lucky, we find an underpass or overpass. But crossing  in the middle of nowhere - yeah terrifying. That actually applies not only to us, but to drivers as well.

Look for a gap, and run!
Heart 0 Comment 0
At one point pedestrians could find this elaborate overpass.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Our objective today is Uxmal, the major archeological site south of Merida.  It's a bit of a stretch to reach it, but we really have no choice. Uxmal is at the beginning of the so called Puuc Hills, a ridge left from the meteor impact. Our plan is to tour the Puuc region after Uxmal. The hills of course are where Dodie crashed last year. We could say that we are returning to face any fears and maybe to restore some memories, but those are not really the reasons. The reason is that we were almost at Uxmal and the Puuc last time, and now we are darn well going to complete what we set out to do!

Here we come!
Heart 2 Comment 0
This shot is a good representation of our road to Uxmal for most of the day. It's a noisy four lane affair, but offers a good shoulder. In the section shown, the shoulder is protected by a strong rumble strip as well. All of this is fine, but sharing the road with speeding gravel trucks and semis of various types is never any fun.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Even on the busy highway Dodie is able to spot interesting flora and fauna by the roadside. Below is what could be a beehive, judging from the just visible exposed cells. And then we have a pair of Tropical Kingbirds, displaying front and back views for us.

Heart 2 Comment 1
Bill ShaneyfeltSome species of paper wasp (family Vespidae) nest. Lots of them in the tropics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespidae
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Heart 4 Comment 0

Based on a tip from Doug Loten while we were visiting him and Elaine at Uaymitun, we made a small detour to Yaxcopoil. Yaccopoil, which is Mayan for  "place of the green Alamo trees", is the site of a Hacienda which was one of the most important rural estates in Yucatan. A hacienda is something like a French chateau, or maybe a U.S. cotton plantation, and here could be based on  hennequen or cattle or both. Hennequen is the agave that produces fibre for rope or hammocks, and which was the basis of a major export  industry in the late 19th century.

As with other plantations and estates, you see some sort of ruling class exploiting both natural resources and a population, and living in luxury. Some change in politics, economics, or technology then displaces them, and finally tourists (like us!) get to look in wonder at how they lived and what they did.

Entering the little town part of Yaxcopoil, we found lots of dogs sleeping in the road. Rather than let them lie, the man in the background is going to clear them off for us.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Across a field we spotted what had to be the hacienda, although there were no signs at all. So we pedaled down a side road and approached a weathered building with a smokestack behind. At first it seemed locked , but the gate could be opened, so we went in for a look. We had been there only a short time, when a man (who turned out to be Arsenio - a real sweetie pie) entered and pointed out that this was a museum and that tickets were to be had at the main building, over there.  But rather than say to get our bikes off their lawn and not to come back unless we had tickets, he launched into an extensive description of the hennequen processing equipment and history of the hacienda. All in good time, he eventually strolled us back to the main building, helped secure the bikes, got us tickets, and proceeded with an equally lengthy tour of the residence. We learned (or at least heard, and might remember) a huge amount about the original families that had founded and carried on the hacienda, their lives and those of the Mayan workers, whose own civilization had been brushed aside, and the final demise of the sisal industry. As we saw a couple of days ago, there is still some production ongoing, but the wheels stopped turning  at this place in 1984. At its peak, it had included 22,000 acres of land!

The hennequen plant
Heart 1 Comment 0
This steam engine provided the power. It was made in Germany.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The smokestack out back marks the plant location. Out in the country side, seeing one of these is the clue that processing is or was taking place.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Arsenio points out various buildings on the grounds.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Arsenio operates the clutch that controlled power coming from the engine room and into the shredder room.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Bundles of fronds were raised from ground level outside and onto a deck, headed to the shredder.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The fronds moved along
Heart 0 Comment 0
and zoomed into the shredder
Heart 0 Comment 0
The shredding was lengthwise
Heart 0 Comment 0
and produced long fibres. By the way, Arsenio is part Mayan and part Spanish. His grandfather worked in the plant.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Arsenio processed one frond for us by hand
Heart 1 Comment 0
Here is the Mayan way to spin the fibres
Heart 1 Comment 0
He made a rope that though thin was darn strong
Heart 3 Comment 0
Let's go look at the rest of the buildings
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
The residential buildings are two long structures with a courtyard between
Heart 3 Comment 0
Inside there are beautiful tiled floors, original furniture, books, photos, and paintings.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Douglas LotenThat’s not wallpaper, it was hand painted by a famous local artisan to match the original wall paint. It was taken him several years to proceed through each room!
Reply to this comment
2 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Douglas LotenYikes, I wish we had taken a closer look. Our guide mentioned a lot, but missed this.
Reply to this comment
2 days ago
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Rain water flowed from spouts in the roof to the right, and entered a huge cistern below, from which livestock put the left were watered.
Heart 2 Comment 0

We took many more photos, illustrating our tour of the  cenote-like well and pumping system, the chapel, family photos and history, the Mayan room - containing columns and artifacts from Mayan ruins on the property,  original dish sets, the original toilets and swimming pool, and on and on. How did we ever get out of there!

The Moorish double arch front gate of the property.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The tree that gave the place its name
Heart 1 Comment 0
Although not at all fluent in English, Arsenio was an animated presenter.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Grampies still seem in good shape, after the whole long thing.
Heart 6 Comment 0
The area does have some amazing trees!
Heart 1 Comment 0
The next hacienda along has a Turquoise Browed Motmot in its logo. Though we did not get a photo, Dodie saw one of these today!
Heart 1 Comment 1
Douglas LotenIt’s unfortunate that this is now just for private affairs as it has a marvellous amphitheatre with a cenote at the back of the stage!
Reply to this comment
2 days ago

We now entered the hilly area where Dodie crashed last time. Needless to say we are prepared for it now, with more awareness, and better brakes!

More awareness!
Heart 3 Comment 0
Oh, oh, she's off! In truth, we never exceeded 20 kph.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Last time we had been booked at the Hotel Maya Uxmal Resort, but this time we moved a little closer to the ruins, with the Hacienda Uxmal.  While Yaxcopoil hacienda gave a taste of how beautiful a hacienda can be, we found Hacienda Uxmal to be flat out gorgeous. It's the tile floors, high ceilings, hardwood furniture, and lush plantings that do it.  In this case also, it was the welcoming attitude about our  bikes, and a room large enough to swallow them easily. 

From here we can walk to the ruins, and to the restaurant near the ruins. There are perhaps two other hotels, run perhaps by the same company, directly at the ruins entrance. Each hotel is very high end and attractive, as is the restaurant. Things are so beautiful here that we booked in for three nights. We know it will be interesting and extremely restful. One the other hand we are isolated here, without a car, and everything is very touristy and extremely expensive. We are going to enjoy the tranquil setting and the ruins, but are also likely to grab our unloaded bikes and make a break for freedom (from high prices) by going to the town of Santa Elena to find supplies.

Near the entrance
Heart 3 Comment 0
The rooms surround a garden and a large pool
Heart 3 Comment 0
Bike fits easily
Heart 3 Comment 2
Douglas LotenWe’ve stayed in a similar room… wonderful place!
Reply to this comment
2 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThere were bigger and better rooms, we think, but this was just swell. So restful.
Reply to this comment
2 days ago
Love the tiles
Heart 4 Comment 0
It's a large property, with a trail to the old hacienda and presumably processing plant, that is said to be rich with birds.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The environment is very tranquil, and the staff very accommodating.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The restaurant - in there somewhere.
Heart 0 Comment 0
This dish was 355 pesos ($25). Worth it? or make a run to a real town? We will shoot for a policy somewhere in between.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Today's ride: 82 km (51 miles)
Total: 883 km (548 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Sue PriceGlad you made it there safely! Enjoy Uxmal!!!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesUxmal is really nice! It turns out that although we did come down a steep hill to get here, it was not "Dodie's hill". We know where that is now, but do not intend to go back!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago