More Kitties

(Post 230 of 263)

A friend of mine returned to his home country and needed to rehome his two elderly female cats before he left. There was no decision to make; I always knew I’d end up with them.

They arrived the Friday before I left for Campeche, horrible timing, but there was nothing to be done about it. They spent the first week in their own room, and then I introduced them to Alma when I returned. She is happy to have them here, frequently seeking them out and chirping at them to come explore the house, but they are traumatised and not yet ready to come out. These things take time and patience and a willingness to work with the cat’s schedule. Just look at how far Alma has come, from a truly feral being to the affectionate cuddlebug she’s been since I got home!

My first new addition is Dodger. She’s probably 12 years old. While still very hostile, she does hang out in the open in her room and even ventured out into the guest room yesterday, hanging out under the bed. She always used to come cuddle with me when I visited my friend, so I’m optimistic that she’ll settle in.

Then, there is Xtiga (Ish-tee-ga). Today was the first time I got a halfway decent photo of her. She’s about 15 and was very much a daddy’s girl, so she’s struggling with her new situation and is still hiding.

Both girls are eating well and using their litter boxes, so I’m not worried about them. Again, time and patience will work wonders. That Alma has accepted them bodes well.

Speaking of Alma:

I was worried that she’d forget about me during my trip, but nope, I’ve come home to find her even more affectionate. It’s good to be missed!

Three cats at once is a lot — I’ve never had more than two — but I’m glad Dodgy and Ishy are here and arrived before I was too settled into a routine with Alma, so I can merge their habits and routines.

Campeche: Day 5 (Thursday)

(Post 229 of 263)

Thursday was my last day in Campeche, but with my bus being at 4:20, I still had a full day of tourism! First thing I had to do was figure out what to do with my luggage between the noon checkout and 3:30, when I’d have to head to the ADO station. The hotel offered to keep my suitcase behind the desk, but it wasn’t a secure area, so I had to pack a day bag with all my valuables and then get everything else into the suitcase. It was a tight fit!

I went around the corner to Luan for breakfast. I ordered an americano and a juice of strawberry, pineapple, and… orange? I think. So refreshing!

Breakfast was a croque madame, hold the egg. I was surprised by the mustard, rather than nutmeg, in the b√©chamel. The bread was excellent. So delicious and a nice change from the Mexican breakfasts I’d been having all week.

I decided to do like Wednesday and go out to a fort, this time Fuerte San Jose and the subaquatic history museum, then walk back into centro for lunch.

This fort was up a couple of really steep streets the likes of which I have not seen since Oaxaca! Like at San Miguel, this was a two-for of the subaquatic archaeology exhibits and those about the fort.

The flooded cave near Tulum. Human added for scale. I am noping. Not visiting this in Tulum even if it is a possibility to do so (not sure if it is)!

I learned about how chocolate was only used in religious rituals, not consumed by regular people, and was not only bitter but very spicy. This is a chocolate serving pot.

This exhibit was in the kitchen of the fort, which had two stoves.

The bathroom was in the chapel.

There were tons of artefacts rescued from the bottom of the sea.

Here we see a ring that is slowly being extracted from coral. It caught my eye because I have one just like it. :-O

Mine doesn’t have engraving but is otherwise very similar.

This was a great little museum. I was just a little frustrated that there was a lot of specialized vocabulary I did not know and I could not easily do translation research. I had to go up to a guard tower on the roof for cell service and shade to do my research.

Next stop was the Mirador, scenic viewpoint, and the Benito Juarez statue that watches over Campeche.

View from the Mirador.

Kind of like being behind the Hollywood sign. ūüôā

This is the steep road we had to climb and I had to walk down. It doesn’t not look impressive in this photo, but let me tell you, it was no picnic!

Parroquia San Francisco de Asís

Always look down walking in Campeche as these holes abound and some of them are wide open and big enough to fall in!

Guadalupe church that I saw on my tram tour Monday.

It took exactly one hour to stroll from the fort to Plaza Principal.

I had to return to Santo Taquito for my last meal!

Coconut shrimp again (left), queso relleno in the middle (a taco with raisins!), and castacan (pork belly) on the right. YUUUUUM.

Mérida has broken my tastebuds as this was barely warm. The coconut shrimp taco really benefitted from some heat.

It was 3:00 as I headed back to the hotel, so I thought I had plenty of time for a final coffee at Origen…

I got back to the hotel around 3:20 and requested a taxi, which did not show up until almost 4:00, and my bus was at 4:20! We FLEW to the bus station… where I learned all the M√©rida buses were delayed! Thankfully, my delay was only about 30 minutes.

Gracias, Campeche, y hasta pronto. ūüôā

The ride home flew by. The only excitement was a military checkpoint at the state border (the first since my drive to Yucat√°n), but there was no document check.

It was chaos around the bus station as we came in as streets were closed and there was a police roadblock. A taxi driver thought he saw a mark and wanted to charge me $150 to get home. Uber wanted $70, but when I changed my pickup pin by a block, they doubled the price. Didi was $90, but the texting function was down again, so I was not able to tell the driver which side of a busy street to pick me up. Total chaos. I was truly home! I ended up getting in around 8:15 and my lovely housesitter had dinner waiting.

My five days in Campeche already feel like a dream. They did me a world of good and it felt terrific to be back out in the world.

Campeche: Day 4 (Wednesday)

(Post 228 of 263)

Wednesday, I had thought to do another all-day tour to see dolphins and a cenote, but it would have been just me, so the cost was very expensive and, frankly, it didn’t sound like much fun on my own. Spoiler: I ended up being happy that I stayed in Campeche as I had a perfect vacation day.

Campeche has two forts high up on either side of the city. I decided I would take a taxi to the western one, Fuerte San Miguel, which also hosts the Campeche archaeological museum, and then walk back into the city via the Malecón.

First, though, was breakfast at Origen again as I had to have those chilaquiles again! This time, they did not have green sauce but could offer me a smokey “slightly spicy” red sauce. It was delicious and not even remotely spicy.

I went to Plaza Principal to try to get a taxi and ended up getting in one colectivo-style, where the taxi is full of passengers. I ended up getting an impromptu tour of the city, complete with the driver pointing out landmarks to me and treating it like a guided tour, before making it to the fort, for the low-low price of only 70 pesos. What a great start to the day!

The fort was reminiscent of similar structures in Canada.

The fort was great in that you have the fort history to learn as well as the Mayan museum within that had tons of artifacts. The space wasn’t huge, but it was easy to spend an hour there.

d.n.e=I’m assuming means de nuestra epoca=AD or CE in English.

I saw this in Durango, how skulls would be shaped in childhood to be more elongated.

This was shocking to me, that parents would purposely make their children cross-eyed.

This Mayan calendar display blew my mind. They had an agricultural calendar and a religious calendar that worked together like gears to create a cycle of time of 52 years roughly equivalent to how we use centuries to mark time.

Their numbering system based on 20 broke my brain but kinda sort makes sense.

There was a lovely walking path around the fort. It was wonderful to be out in nature in fresh air!

There is then this long stone path down to the main avenue.

I spotted a secret cave!

I then had a stretch on a beautiful avenue with big houses facing the water. This ruin was interesting and is on the opposite side from the ocean.

Looking back at the western end/start point of the malecón.

The bike paths ended in a circle so you could start over.

Don’t let that bright blue sky ahead of me fool you. I had to stay ahead of this behind me!

It was about here that I turned back inland to go back to the hotel to freshen up before lunch.

After a quick break, I headed north out of the hotel to go to the bank.

I wasn’t tempted to go into the main central market, but that’s where it is, just outside of the northern fortification in front of BBVA.

This was a day to get back on the Balkan pizza diet of walking a lot and breaking up the day with a giant pizza! I did some research and Patroni’s, where I’d had the shrimp pasta, seemed my best bet. All of their pizzas sound amazing and gourmet and it was hard to decide. After the server came back a third time, I said, “Almost there, I’ve narrowed it to two!” “Perfect,” he said, “We’ll do half and half!” Genius move to offer that!

The left side of my pizza was their “California” with a white base, blue cheese, Serrano ham, and fig jam. OMG. The right side was their “Aspen” with sundried tomato, roasted garlic, and Italian sausage. OMG. LOL! ¬†This was quite a big meal, but the California side was a bit overbaked, so I did not eat most of the crust on that side. The crust on the Aspen side was chewy and amazing. The salty sweet combo was perfect. I think either pizza alone would have been too much of their respective type, but half and half worked great. I’m definitely coming back to Patroni’s next time I am in Campeche to try more of their pizzas!

Campeche historic centre has almost no cell service, oddly enough, so I went to the tourist info centre to ask about museums. You would have thought I was asking for directions to the moon. They had no idea about museums in the city or why I would even be looking for such a thing. Very odd. I ended up finding the small but interesting museum of Mayan architecture and then the city museum (next door to each other) on my own.

The info in the Mayan architecture museum cannot be condensed in a blog post. It was so informative. I learned about the four types of construction and daily life. Like all museums I visited in Campeche, it was tiny, but really well done. Most museums have some English, but not everything is translated.

Funerary attire.

Stunning! This is a funerary mask.

The city museum was next door across from Plaza Principal and was the first place with free entrance (everything else had been $65). This museum was spread out across the building, so you had to follow the yellow arrows around, which was fun, almost like a treasure hunt to find where to head to next.

The pirate show I was not able to see was about this pirate. He basically sacked the city and I distinctly remember hearing that he left only about 10% of the population alive. :-0

This ship mockup was complete with the floor not being level, so it really felt like you were in the middle of the ocean.

ink well

As time passed and the native, mestizo, and European populations continued to integrate, you could see the influence of the cultures in the clothing. These are traditional native and mestizo dress with European cuts.

I learned about logwood, Campeche’s black gold, a dye that allowed Europeans to achieve purples, blacks, and other colours more cheaply than with European methods.

There was a display of the original market in Campeche and all the people who worked there. I was amused by the tortilla lady. Some things never change. You can see her in Mérida at the Chaya Maya restaurant making tortillas exactly like this, on a little stool.

I was very tired after my day of walking, so I headed back to the hotel for a few hours, showered and changed, and went back out after dark to get an ice cream.

I enjoyed the lights and music by Plaza Principal as I ate my cone.

There was a 9PM walking tour about Campeche legends that sounded interesting, so I decided that I was going to do that! I bought my ticket, went back to my hotel for another rest, then headed out for the tour, which should have been 90 minutes but was a full two hours. I was beat by the end of it! It was very interesting, but unfortunately the guide spoke very fast and had some odd intonations that meant that it was hard to understand him. It was the first time of my entire trip that I really felt like I was travelling in a foreign language and not able to get enough to fully enjoy the experience. It was still very fun and there were some great jump scares.

I thought I could get a late dinner after the tour, but everything shut at 11PM, so I went back to my hotel and had peanut butter sandwiches!

Wednesday was an absolutely perfect vacation day. I’m pretty sure I haven’t put in that many steps in a single day since my Balkan adventures. I brought great footwear to Campeche (all Clarks brand sandals) and rotated them out throughout each day so I was never footsore.

Campeche: Day 3 (Tuesday) at Edzna, Hochob, and Dzibilnocac

(Post 227 of 263)

I somehow managed to wake up at 6:30 without an alarm on Tuesday. First up was breakfast. Most restaurants open at 8AM or later in Campeche, so I asked the front desk if they knew of one open earlier than that as I didn’t want to only eat peanut butter sandwiches all day! Turns out there is a restaurant called La Parroquia near the cathedral that is open 24/7!

Early morning in Campeche

I had to deal with a mini crisis at home while breakfast was going on, so no pics, but let me just say my breakfast wasn’t really anything to remember. I had panuchos, typically a favourite breakfast of mine, but these were really greasy and bony! Not great at all. I did appreciate that I was offered coffee the second I sat down, that the coffee cup was magically refilled at one point, and that the coffee was good!

I was picked up at my hotel at 8:00 on the dot. It was just myself and one other guy, so we went in a regular car. It was very luxurious to be on a semi-private tour! The plan for the day was to hit up three pyramid complexes, Edzn√°, Hochob, and Dziblnocac. I’m not going to get into a lot of details in this post. If you’re interested to learn more, the Mayan Ruins Website will do a much better and more thorough job of it than I could. I downloaded their page about each site (links above!) to my phone so I could consult it on site, a rather genius movie, as my housesitter said!

Map of the day

Amazing. The longer I live in Yucatan, the more I cannot believe my colonizer, white-washed, revisionist history education that claimed that such things don’t exist on this continent. Construction of Edzn√° began in 200BC!!!

There were lots of chubby iguanas around the site. This handsome fellow was happy to pose for pictures. I saw tourists with big cameras photographing insects, so I told them about this guy and they were so happy to find one that stood still long enough for them to get pictures. I’m so glad I told them about him!

This handsome fellow was guarding the entrance to the site where you buy your tickets.

I was taking the photo above when I felt a little nip at the back of my calves like the kisses Bonita used to give me! He was rewarded with an ear scratch!

We were at Edzn√° about an hour and a half, the perfect amount of time.

Our next stop was much shorter, but also much smaller. I never felt rushed all day.

This was quite the climb up as the risers are high.

:-O My first impression was that I was about to enter the mouth of the monster/god, seeing eyes and a mouth, and, lo and behold, that is exactly correct and the intended effect!

Hochob is when the other guest and I finally broke the ice and started enjoying our day together! It helped that he hadn’t thought to bring a lunch and I’d packed enough peanut butter sandwiches to share!

It was then time to go to our final stop. Yes, I can write Dzibilnocac without looking it up since we have Dzibilchaltun north of Mérida that has gotten me used to spelling the first part!

The new camera makes for stunning pictures, no? I cannot believe I have an entire phone period of ownership where I essentially have no travel pictures. For y’all, I pretty much jumped from my 6 (which was already a huge improvement over the 5C that I went to Europe with) to the 14 Pro Max, skipping the middling camera of my XR.

One of my favourite things about Tuesday was being out in nature. I don’t get enough of that in M√©rida.

We had a 2.5-hour journey back to Campeche and had been in the sun all day. I joked that I could go for a cold beer. I was equal parts horrified, amused, and grateful when my guide asked a villager where we could get beer and then we detoured to get it! The other guest paid for my beer and it wasn’t until much later that I realised it was the thank you for the sandwiches! Beer tastes exceptionally good when being chauffeured in a fancy car after a long day in the hot sun!

We got in around 4PM. I showered, changed, and went out in search of dinner!

I ended up at Bastion off the main square, which was mostly a mistake.

Things started off very promising with this spicy coleslaw and totopos…

And crostini with garlic sauce.

Dinner looked great — vegetables are a nice change from no vegetables in M√©rida, and the xcatic pepper sauce looked so pretty. But the shrimp were overcooked and over salted. And then it wasn’t until after I left that I realised I’d gotten scammed on the tip — they included it in the bill and I didn’t clue in when I wasn’t asked if I wanted to add one since I was paying with my credit card and I left a cash tip as well. Oh, well, it’s not a real trip unless you’ve been scammed at least once, right?

I was super amused, though, that as he brought my dinner, the server said, “You look like someone who wants tortillas with her dinner. I’ll be right back.” Maybe because I tore through all those botanas? LOL!!!

Xcactic peppers are not spicy, just tasty. There’s a restaurant in M√©rida that does xcactic pepper sauce chilaquiles that is absolutely divine.

Plaza Principal was looking mighty purty.

No picture, but I remember that after dinner I headed back to El Michoacano for the second time since my arrival to get an ice cream. This time, it wasn’t very busy and the server had time to tell me what all the flavours were when the first time, I just went with the obvious choice, cookies and cream. This time, I was delighted to learn that they had pistachio, so I went with that. Do not confuse this ice cream parlour with La Michoacana, the national non-chain of ice cream that while not franchises per se all have basically identical ice cream, kind of marshmallowy and a bit watery, with some flavours being better than others, all in all offering a middling ice cream cone. EL MichoanO was not that. This was quality, creamy ice cream with premium ingredients.

The cathedral sure looked pretty at night!

Tuesday was another early night. I did try to see the pirate show, but would have had to wait until 9PM to even know if it was on and I was ready to call it a night around 7! I went back to my hotel room and did the Sunday post on my iPad then decided I was not doing any more posts on my iPad! Handling the pictures is too finicking.

What an amazing day! I feel immensely privileged to now call this part of the world home.

Campeche: Day 2 (Monday)

(Post 226 of 263)

Like in the rest of Mexico, Monday is the day that most touristy things are closed in Campeche. So I didn’t have big plans for my first day. I just wanted to get orientated, figure out a few things to do on Wednesday and Thursday, and also have some good food!

My hotel, H177, was in a prime location, just north of the Plaza Principal, Campeche’s main square, and right off of Calle 59, a pedestrian street lined with cafes, restaurants, and bars. On a map, it looked a bit far from everything, but once I was there, I couldn’t believe how my hotel was always just minutes away, so I could pop in and out during the day.

The first stop Monday was Origen, a cafe just around the corner. The menu was a bit egg-heavy, but I had no trouble putting together a delicious breakfast!

Cafe macchiato, and I was even asked what kind of milk I wanted! Almond, please!

Spinach, celery, and orange smoothie, just like I have at home. So refreshing and felt great to start the day with all that nutrition.

These chilaquiles felt positively gourmet! They were topped with sheep cheese! I don’t like goat cheese for some reason and expected that sheep cheese would be similar. Nope. This was the first time I’ve been served chilaquiles in a portion I could finish.

I ambled for a bit. Like other centro historicos in Mérida, the house are all stuck together and colourful.

The pedestrian street in daylight.

Plaza Principal with the cathedral in the background.

Campeche cathedral

While at Plaza Principal I found a tourist attraction that was open, a tram tour! I was told to come back a little while later as they were having trouble filling one. So I headed out to the malecón. While beautiful, I found it very difficult to access as you have to cross a four-lane avenue with only a few pedestrian crossings.

By the time I got back to Plaza Principal, there was a tram-load of people, so off we went. Our first stops were to travel through the ancient barrios of San Francisco, Guadalupe, and San Ramon. After the city was fortified, the mestizos and natives lived outside the fortifications in these barrios.

The church of Guadalupe. Construction began in 1575!

I should have taken notes. That white structure meant something…

There are claims that that blue column commemorates the first mass on American soil, but it was more likely the first mass in the region.

Monument to fishermen.

This statue represents three levels of society, the natives, the Europeans, and then the church rulers.

Parque San Ramon. We were able to get off here and have a leg stretch. We were warned about pickpockets and not to wander too far!

Church of San Ramon by the park

I’ve got one of these weirdos near my house. Doesn’t look like it belongs with the palms, does it?

Inside the church of San Ramon

Inside the church of San Ramon

The acoustic shell.

Here you can appreciate how thick the wall is.

Pirate cell.

City hall

There are so many of these jaguars all over the city. Anyone remember the Toronto moose in 2000?

The tram tour was excellent. A problem with these open-air tours is often you can’t hear what is played over the loudspeaker, which was the case despite the audio quality being very good. But they also had an excellent English narration by a native English speaker, so between the Spanish and the English I was able to understand everything.

I came back here after the tour to see this amazing bronze maquette of the city.

Next up, I needed ice cream by the water! I was told this is THE place for ice cream in Campeche, but while my cone was pretty good, I think that El Michoacano had better ice cream (I ended up there three or four times!).

chocolate and cappucino

Next up was to visit the Bazar Artesanal, where you buy directly from artisans, with the purpose being an earring restock!

The two butterflies are similar, but I like having one set as studs and the other as dangles. The sting rays are so cute. And ones with the blue gems are incredibly lightweight. I forget what kind of metal and gem they are, but I never thought I could have earrings like that that would not feel like I had rocks attached to my earlobes. The top two pairs were in my usual earring budget of $50 each, but the other two were a splurge at a total of $600! Remember, I live in pesos, folks, so those are pesos, not dollars! ūüėČ

A clean city is not the one that is swept the most but the one that is dirtied the least. A lesson M√©rida needs to learn. It is by far the dirtiest touristy city I’ve visited in Mexico.

After a brief rest at the hotel, I headed for lunch at one of Campeche’s top restaurants, Maria Cocina Peninsular. A cold Pacifico really made me feel like I was back in Mazatl√°n!

I had to ask for picante at every restaurant I ate at. Most brought me commercial sauce, usually El Yucateco, but Maria’s had this gorgeous creamy homemade habanero sauce. I enjoyed it with my beans and totopos and asked for a topup to go with my lunch!

Lunch was some of the best coconut shrimp in my life, served with an incredible tomatillo marmalade that definitely needed a little heat to cut through all the sweetness. This was my first time being served potatoes (and roasted radishes!) with this dish rather than rice. I definitely prefer rice, but the salsa came to the rescue.

Their espresso did not disappoint.

I went back to my hotel for a bit. I had an excursion the next day for sure and maybe one on Wednesday, so I decided to try out Campeche Rappi to get some food to avoid paying the Oxxo markup. I was able to connect to a Chedraui and get a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, plus a few other items, for my picnics. I even remembered to order sandwich bags and a butter knife!

Night comes early in the tropics, so it was dark when I headed back out. There was a pirate show I was eager to catch, but I ended up not being able to see it as there were never enough people for it to be put on. Still, I enjoyed wandering around in the evenings, with the area either bustling or dead calm.

I did not need dinner after that lunch, so I grabbed a marquesita from a street cart as the rich Edam cheese makes these feel like a compromise between a treat and a small meal. I was on vacation, so I made sure to add Nutella. ūüôā

Well, I wandered so much and so late that I eventually did want dinner! To my surprise, I wanted pasta, something with shrimp. I had a look at menus as I walked up the pedestrian street and this restaurant had a shrimpy pasta on the menu.

My garlicky white wine shrimp fettuccine with feta was incredible. I even liked the spinach chips! I was a bit shocked to discover that my wine was nearly the cost of my dinner, though!

It was then time to head back, enjoy the amazing shower water pressure, and get an early night as I had to get up at 6:30 to be ready for a pickup at 8:00! It had been a great day and I was exhausted from all the sun and exercise, plus the rich food, so sleep came quickly, a sign of a day well lived.