Day 23: Oxkutzcab to Homun - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 22, 2023

Day 23: Oxkutzcab to Homun

Motmot in the Mist

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It was really fun yesterday passing through such an active agricultural area. Oxkutzcab is definitely the commercial centre of the region, something we say as we set off early this morning, and found that lots of other people were up, setting up their stalls at the municipal market. It was still rather dark, and things were not set up yet, but we could see that there were crates and crates of oranges. It was surely more than the people of this town could buy today, so the market must be supplying a larger radius.

The building with the mural is about a block square, and soon will be filled with inside vendors. See the church in the background!
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There were cases and cases of oranges.
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People on the mural look pretty happy. Those on the ground looked sleepy.
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Imagine not only growing but also picking these peppers and then dragging them out here at dawn.
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Even when the sun was up, there was a heavy mist over everything. The sun took a long time to burn it off. So at first we felt damp and chilly (with a starting temperature of 14 degrees) and then progressed  to damp and hot. Today the maximum temperature actually hit 45 Celsius on my handlebar. That's an incredible 113 degrees F.

Just out of town, and still in a lot of mist, we spotted our second Motmot. The Motmot has a really distinctive tail, with two feathers extending way down on featherless strands.  This appearance makes the bird a natural for appearance on posters and logos.

We were able to get some photos of this one, though they are not great:

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marilyn swettInteresting looking bird!
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6 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo marilyn swettYes, it's very iconic of this region.
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6 days ago
Yup, it's a Turquoise Browed Motmot!
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 We enjoy following named routes, such as the Camino in Spain, or the various radwegs of Germany. There is usually good guidance for following such routes, and descriptions of what one will encounter along the way. Here in Yucatan, the government (I guess) has set out some routes, and put up signs along the highway showing what route you generally are on. There is the route of the flamingos, the archeology route, culture route, and so forth. Yesterday we were following the Puuc Route, which starts with the archeological site of Uxmal and then hits Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, and Labna, and the (closed) Loltun Caves, before landing at Oxkutzcab where we stayed last night.

Today our thing was to follow the "Convent Route". This wanders through the area south of Merida and ticks off small towns with churches or former convents, naming the interesting artifacts or chapels inside. There are a minimum of eight towns commonly mentioned for the route, and the Grampies initially set off to tick through each of them. The total distance for them all would have been too much for one day, not to mention that that 114 degree temperature was a problem. Still, we saw quite a lot. One thing, there are also dozens of cenotes in this area, Another time, we should check them out!

Our first town was Mani, which holds a lot of interest as the place where that guy Landa burned the Mayan texts. It also has one of the largest churches in Yucatan.

We picked up a bike path into Mani. This was good for keeping us off the road, because as you see, it was still misty.
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At the entrance to Mani there was a billboard advertising a restaurant we had read about in our Convent Route literature. The sign claims the restaurant as a place for authentic Poc Chuc. Too early in the day for us, though.
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Heading down the main street, the traffic we are encountering is two cargo bikes and one moto.
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Mani gave us the overall impression of having very lush foliage, and quite a lot of traditional houses. It was a beautiful, tropical place. We also noticed right away the green crosses, that are a symbol of the rebellion of the Maya against the Spanish. However religious symbols seemed to be around a lot, indicating that the Spanish got somewhere with the whole thing in the end.

The traditional house style
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A green cross
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Tropical Mockingbird
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Some kind of Dove
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Decorated door on someone's house. John Paul II was a popular Pope.
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That big church in Mani
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Every Mexican town has a central spot with its name in large letters.
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The Mani letters depict bold themes
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Mani also had some nice non-traditional houses.
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Really tropical looking
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There were lots of Tropical Kingbirds about
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Outside of Mani, on the way to Tipikal, we ran into some religious symbolism that was downright voodoo.
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The church in Tipikal. Basically, they all look alike.
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Ben ParkeSo you’d call this Tipikal church pretty typical then? :)
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1 week ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Ben ParkeHaha- yup.
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6 days ago
But there were these double Kiskadees
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During the trip we had been teased by the bright blue flashes of the Yucatan Jay, but none ever held still long enough for a shot. On the way to Teabo there was temporarily a tree full of them!

Yucatan Jay
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We picked up about a 2 km bike path leading into Teabo. It was pretty new and I wondered which official had suddenly decided to lay down all this expensive tar. The partial answer came with a construction sign.
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They spent about $113,000 on the bike path! We have been trying to learning our numbers in Spanish, and can go up to the top price of a hotel room - 2000 pesos. But how about that bike path number!
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The church in Teabo showed some of the unique style inside churches in this area.
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But it was outside the church that the most interesting thing happened. Some people were beginning to gather for a service, and a frail little old couple tottered up and sat down on a ledge outside. The man was wearing some fancy clothes, seemingly souvenirs of a Virgin of Guadeloupe pilgrimage. I am not sure if we spoke first to the couple, but probably the reverse. What ensued was a 15 minute or longer chat, mostly between Dodie and the man. The man spoke not a word of English, but Dodie has a keen ear and two weeks of Spanish immersion here cycling around. We learned that the couple's son saved up and visited England, and, we think, they also have some children now in Canada. The man was very interested in our trip and the bikes, discussing the gearing and how it is not needed in Yucatan, assuring us that we are perfectly safe among the friendly people of the State, and urging us to drive safely and slowly. He generally warmly welcomed us to his land, and there were nice handshakes all around.

Dodie and the man
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The shirt
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How does this bike work?
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Some shocking information has been exchanged
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Studying the GPS
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Chumayel is the town where the sacred book of the Maya, the Chilan Balam was kept. There is a quote from it on a sign in the square by the church - mentioning the great mother ceiba tree. There also are some murals depicting the harvest and the Mayan gods and people.

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Inside the church, a black carved Jesus.

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Here below is a weird example of what is called syncretism, in which different religions somewhat amalgamate.  Here we have the Wise Men, and some other dudes in sombreros! Baby Jesus is also sporting a Virgin of Guadeloupe souvenir shirt!

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Some of the towns we visited were quite sleepy, and others very busy and active. Here below is an active one, Tekit.

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When we rolled into the Tekit main square, we must have transgressed something, because three policemen in front of city hall blew their whistles at us. Whatever it was, we just jumped off our bikes and wheeled them up a ramped marked for  wheelchairs, to a shady bench, where we collapsed in the heat. But not for long. One of the policemen now came and told us no bikes in the square - park them on the road. This time it was Dodie that gave the grief to a person with an anti-bike message - the policeman.  The policeman, of course, had to beat a retreat before she bit his head off.

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The church was closed, but we still got some religion, in the form of a parade with an image of ... could be Mary, more likely the Virgin of Guadeloupe. Have a listen:

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We were short on calories and fluids by this time. I went looking for juice, but no luck. However we did each get a Marquesita!

Marquesita production over a wood flame. 20 pesos each - cheese and Nutella!
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Happy customer on her bench. Retreated policeman in the background!
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San Antonio de Padua church, Tekit
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Selling jicama and sandilla in front of the church
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Tekit styles itself the capital of production of those fancy Mexican shirts - guayabera
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Guayabera shop
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Leaving Tekit, Dodie is somewhere up ahead. Notice, the traffic includes no automobiles.
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Chunkanan and Cuzama were two of our final stops.
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Something about haciendas and cenotes here involves narrow gauge rail lines. We need to find out more.
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Leslie and Rob CookeWe've gone out on one of these carts pulled by a horse to 3 different cenotes. Once in Cuzama 13 years ago and the other time in nearby Chunkanán 3 years ago. It was quite the experience.
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5 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Leslie and Rob CookeWe were shown a very fancy narrow gauge rail car like this at the hacienda museum before Uxmal. I understood the system transported the Spanish family, maybe to the big train station, but Dodie thought it was also a worker transport on the hacienda. Could cenote transport be a subsequent use, or maybe just another use.

At the hacienda one, the seats in the car flipped forward and back, so the horse would be attached to one end or the other.
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2 days ago
We would like to spot a wild Ocellated Turkey, but this is just a variety of a domestic one.
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Motmots decorate a loveseat in Cuzama
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What is this all about? We'll find out if we come back to sample cenotes.
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Lots of billboards for cenotes here!
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By the time we reached our hotel, the PapaGrande in Homun we were truly fried. It's a modest hotel, but they do have a pool, which we went into right away, trying to cool down our core temperatures. After spending some time in the pool, Dodie reported that the water wrung from her bathing suit was still warm. 

We did rather overdo it today. Tomorrow should be a bit shorter, if not cooler!

Today's ride: 74 km (46 miles)
Total: 1,032 km (641 miles)

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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat job on the birds!
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6 days ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks! Especially those Jays were hard to get.
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