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My Travels to Mexico
by Matthew Rhys Sypniewski, B.A., M.A.

My very first trip to Mexico was Sunday, February 17, 1985 through February 23, 1985. My family, and a few friends, booked a Go Go Tour of Mexico called "The Mayan Explorer." The itinerary for this trip was for three cities: Merida, the capital of the Yucatan State; Piste, site of Chichen Itza; and Cancun, a fairly new resort, at that time.

Sunday, February 17, 1984

I was still in the sixth grade, and I was very excited to see Mexico for the first time. We would be traveling with friends of my father's: Vivian, Paul and Karen Zajac; and Ray and Nancy Mejers. Our group of eight met, at the airport, early Sunday. When we got to Miami Airport is was bright, sunny, and warm. We had a short stop-over and got to walk out on their patio for some air. We had left a cold Michigan winter behind us. It was a LONG day, but we were at last in Mexico, later that same day.

The Hotel Paseo de Montejo

Our hotel was the Paseo de Montejo on the avenue of the same name. This was a tourist-type hotel with budget features, but its sister hotel was right across the street and we had pool privilages there. This boulevard was lined with a canopy of trees and had many mansions that were holdovers from the colonial days of Merida's sisal plantations. There were also many museums that were within walking distance of us. It was late in the day, by the time we arrived, and we were glad to get out and walk around. We passed by many places and noted them in our minds, so that we could return later. We sat outside under a big, bright cerveza logo umbrella and watched the world go by. We chilled enough that it finally hit us that we were finally in Mexico. All the planning and anticipation yielded what would prove to be a great adventure. Here, in Merida it was still winter, and we were warm. We all went to bed, slept soundly and dreamed of what tomorrow might bring.

Monday, February 18, 1985:

We were up at 6 a.m. Mexican time. Today we were all going to the Mercado (market) and the Museo (Museum). However, because of the holidays (it was Carnival time), the banks and the museums were closed.

So the Archeaological museum would be first thing on the next day's menu.

We all took a bus to the plaza centro (main shopping area) of the city of Merida. We picked up a few Mayan items of clothing and a Panama hat. The market was spread in a large warehouse area, and the streets were crowded with people coming and going.

The Municipal Palace on the Main Plaza, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

When we went to the Main Plaza, we could not visit the Municipal Palace because they were modeling, but we did get pictures of the scaffolding.

The Main Cathedral of Merida

The Main Plaza was very interesting with more Colonial Architecture. It was where people gathered to talk, play checkers, sip a cold cerveza and watch the rest of the world go by.

The Governor's Palace

The Governor's Palace was on three levels which housed an art museum depicting the history of Mexico in large murals. These were reminiscent of Diego Rivera's style. The murals were colorful and stylized in a unique Mexican splash. The palace was typical with Spanish courtyard, many arches, and made for wonderful photographs.

After this, we decided to try the Yucatan's famous liquadoes...their wonderful fruit drinks. These went especially well.

As the heat of the day approached we decided to go back to our hotel for a siesta. This was the custom to sleep in the heat of the day, and it made good sense. After our nap, we freshened up and walked down the boulevard to see the new Holiday Inn, down the street. We also saw some unique fountains and craft shops.

It was now getting a bit cooler and we ate at a very nice restaurant, on the Paseo de Montejo, called La Mulato. This restaurant was in an old mansion and all tables circled around the courtyard with potted plants and flowers. We all ordered Yucatecan specialities and were not disappointed. During dinner the Carnival parades began and we have our apertifs on the grand front porch.

The parade was very colorful with many men and women dressed in regional dress. They were celebrating the last days before Lent. In fact, the celebration lasted well into the early morning, but the next day we awoke to freshly cleaned streets. There was no sign of any party. Today we went to the exhibit of Columbian Gold. As is typical, the museum did not open exactly on the hour. But the exhibit was worth the extra wait. This was about all we could do this morning, then we hired on a tour to the zonas archeologica. Today we would see Uxmal, Kabah, and surrounds, then stop for lunch at Mision Uxmal.

This was a very impressive trip. At first site of Uxmal, we were breathless. And as our guide we had a famous Mexican professor, Professor Zapata. He sold us his book at the end of the tour. His tour was most informative and the ruins site was the most impressive of the day.

One can not imagine the feeling of insignificance when standing before the el Castillo, the main pyramid structure. It is much like one feels in the moumtains for the first time, although these were manmade structures of stone. The entire day of exploring these various zonas was beyond words. Tomorrow we would be going to Chichen Itza, in Piste. We could hardly wait!

Links About Chichen Itza:

[Chichen Itza|Map of Chichen Itza|Hotel Hacienda Chichen, Piste (near Chichen Itza Ruins|Mayaland Hotel and Bungaloos, Chichen Itza]

Links Related to Uxmal:

[Uxmal|The Puuc Route|Merida, a Colonial capital|Holiday Inn, Merida (AeroMexico)|Holiday Inn - Merida, Mexico]

Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca Links:

[The State of Oaxaca|The Classical Period - Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico|Camino Real Oaxaca (formerly Stouffer's Presidente/El Presidente)Originally the Santa Catalina Convent|View of the Camino Real|Rooms at the Camino Real]

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