Day 22: Uxmal to Oxkutzcab - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 21, 2023

Day 22: Uxmal to Oxkutzcab

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We finally made the ride to Santa Elena, the place that over the past three days we had considered nipping over to, just to pick up supplies. We would have sent me (Steve) on my own, so this morning it was interesting to see what I would have encountered and potentially come back with. The first thing I spotted was what might have been a fairly large panaderia (bakery), so maybe that would be some cinnamon buns. The place was closed, as was every other place in town (ok, so it was 7:00 a.m.!) so no telling quite what they might have had. Beyond the bakery we only saw two small shops. I might not have come back with much!

However there was a fiesta going on in town. I might yet have had a good time. Do you remember in Zorba the Greek, when Zorba went out with a pile of money to buy supplies, what happened?

There will be fiesta today in Santa Elena,
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Lots of people have recommended that we stay at the Pickled Onion in Santa Elena. It never quite fit into our itinerary, but at least today we passed the door! We noticed that it is for sale on Southeby's. This could be a chance for someone to invest in the region.

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Douglas LotenWe’ve stayed at the Pickled Onion several times and love it. Valerie is a Brit who moved to Canada and then to the Yucatan!
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2 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesAh but seemingly she is moving again.
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2 days ago

Thinking of places to stay, we passed at least two caves, or cave entrances by the roadside. The second one extended as far as I could see, but I was not about to go in.  The entrance also had some sort of hanging nests - I wonder who the inhabitants might be.

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This extended deep in.
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Near the entrance.
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Bill ShaneyfeltVespids... (paper wasps)

https://bugguide.net/node/view/198
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1 week ago

The route we chose today leads down to the south in the hills, and past several archeological sites. Since we had seen Uxmal so recently, we just peeked towards these sites as we passed.

Our peek at Kabah
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Our peek at Xlapak only went as far as the poster on the entrance building.
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It turned out that the main point of interest for our route today was the fact that in the second half it passed through a significant agricultural zone. To begin with, there were all sorts of citrus orchards. The citrus trees were really everywhere, and many seemed to be dropping fruit more or less at our feet! I collected some tangerines from a tree that made the mistake of having branches too close to the road, and I picked up some nice grapefruits as well. Traffic on the road featured pickup trucks filled with citrus and/or bananas, and even motorcycles with trailers, or individual motorcyclists, seemed to be joining the harvest cavalcade. This is not to say that there was a general harvest going on, just that everyone seemed to have a truckload of fruit.

This truck stopped and unloaded at a fruiteria in Emiliano Zapata town.
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There did not seem to be any order as to whether a given tree would be an orange, tangerine, grapefruit, or pomelo, but at least we can tell these apart, given a chance (and a knife).  But some trees were just a total mystery. For example, there were some large plantings of the thing shown below. The pods, or whatever, did not want to pull off and they seemed to dry and open to reveal seeds of some sort.

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A large planting of ... whatever.
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Bill Shaneyfelt
Maybe Achiote?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bixa_orellana
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1 week ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltMakes a lot of sense. Achiote is commonly used in many dishes of Yucatecan cookery.
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1 week ago
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 Then there were coconuts. We were impressed that no monkey would be needed to gather these. But we have no idea when they are ready. Should these have brown husks?

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Bill ShaneyfeltRipe to drink milk if you can hear sloshing when shaken. Ripe for coconut meat when they start to yellow. But they are really tough to open if you have never done it, as opposed to the guys I watched in Trinidad...
I had a tough time.
https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=4221048880600&set=a.4212755593273
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Ripeness info:
https://homeguides.sfgate.com/tell-coconuts-ripe-tree-60198.html
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1 week ago

Finally a real puzzler. Trees with the pods? shown below were in plantings, with the trees of medium height, but there were also huge tall trees covered in these pods.

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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks kind of like sapodilla

https://strongwithplants.com/sapodilla-exotic-fruit-health-benefits/
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1 week ago
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Through this we had the "Puuc Hills" which in general were quite moderate. However the temperature climbed through the day, allowing me to snap a photo of my handlebar thermometer, which was in the shade of my body, but still showed over 43 degrees (that's a toasty 110 degrees F).

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Two incidental things from along the way. We really do see a lot of women wearing the traditional white embroidered dresses for everyday use, and we do see traditional houses, like the one below.

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Another common sight is people riding in trucks, clearly overcrowded or without seat belts.  Clearly someone is putting a lesser valuation on health and safety than is common in Canada. It could be this lesser valuation is being imposed on the riders, by economics or by an employer, but I also have the suspicion that they themselves adopt more bravado in their daily lives than Canadians commonly do. One related piece of evidence on this is the frequency with which we encounter drivers rocketing along smaller roads at hugely excessive speeds. Either they are in a hurry to somehow go earn an extra 20 pesos somewhere, or they are just innately nuts!

Seatbelts, fellas?
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We arrived at Oxkutzcab around 2 p.m. and found it to be a quite hot and dusty small town. However our hotel, the Puuc Hotel, has A/C, no problem about the bikes, and even a pool, though it is way off on the grounds and really too far to nip over to and back.  But now, after 2 hours in the A/C, we  are ready to venture out into the town. Google Maps shows a Soriana Express grocery a few blocks away. Hooray!

Our  impression of the town changed as we, cooled by A/C, walked the streets, cooled by the sun heading down. We have to recant on the small and dusty assessment, and now show some nice houses and gardens:

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We love the dramatic traveler's palm!
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This guy is looking at us, so we don't have a profile view of his head. Maybe not a Kiskadee?
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be a tropical kingbird

https://ebird.org/species/trokin
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI think Bill’s right here. It’s neither a kiskadee or social flycatcher, which have striped heads.
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1 week ago
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Nice yard
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Back now through the town. How does it look to you?

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Today's ride: 70 km (43 miles)
Total: 958 km (595 miles)

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