Mexico Day 10

Hi Everyone

Our day started at 7 AM with breakfast being served in the courtyard around beautiful palm trees. How I wish every breakfast is like this.

We boarded our bus at 8 AM for a ninety minute drive to the “Hacienda Sotuta de Peon”. The Hacienda Sotuta de Peon is a working henequen plantation that has been fully restored. Henequen is a plant species native to the Yucatan and Guatemala. After the fiber is extracted from the plant, the henequen is processed as a textile and used in a range of products. The fiber looks like twine. In addition to using the fiber, the juice extracted from the henequen plant is used as a liquor. Today, most of the fiber is synthetic and the henequen industry is much smaller than it used to be. The plantation now is supported by a restaurant, hotel and tourist visits. We first visited a small Church on the property that was very simple but beautifully decorated. When the plantation was fully operational, over three thousand workers lived on the plantation. Most of the workers were Yaqui Indians and they were very poorly treated. It was then onto the Main House where the owners lived while they were there. The floors were imported from Europe and all the furniture was restored. We then followed our tour guide to the Machine House. Our tour guide was amazing. He put on a real show as he explained all the activities to us. At the Machine House we saw henequen being processed through old machinery. If you look outside the Machine House, you can see rows and rows of henequen hanging up to dry in the hot sun. A local was selling some henequen made into some functioning products. I bought some to be used as a loofa when you shower. It is supposed to be good for the skin. Throughout the plantation there are train tracks. This was how the plants were transported back to the Machine House to be processed. We all boarded one of the train cars that was pulled by a donkey. The donkey drove us through huge henequen crops that cover the ground until we finally stopped in the middle of the field. We all got off the train to visit Antonio. Antonio is an eighty four year old Mayan man who lives in a hut and greets visitors. He only spoke Mayan and used to be a worker on the plantation. His living quarters were very basic. His bed was a large hammock and his hut had almost no furniture. Our tour guide told us he has been living on the plantation like this for most of his life.

It was then back into our donkey driven train to the cenote. There are eight cenotes on the plantation. This cenote is named Dzul-ha. Has anyone found out what a cenote is? Time is up. A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that exposes groundwater underneath. Cenotes were very important to the Mayans. They needed water and the underground system of cenotes provided that water for them. Al of the eight cenotes on the plantation are connected underground. This creates a huge cavern and provides lots of fresh and clear water. I brought my bathing suit, changed, showered and walked down into an underground cave. I then saw the cenote. The water appeared to be crystal clear. I immediately jumped in and had an amazing experience. The water is fresh water and we were told is about 80-85 degrees. In the middle I could not stand, but was able to sit on rocks around the edges. There were beautiful rocks all around covered with a limestone sort of covering. I was the only one of the group to take the plunge. I could tell you it was a great experience.

It was now onto to lunch at the restaurant located on the plantation. We had a great fish fillet with lots of local vegetables.

The drive back to town took us through some very poor areas and I was reminded that I was in Mexico. Shanties and people living in squalor was common.

We stopped at a local food market in town. Very dirty. People were selling fruits and vegetables. Some of the fruits and vegetables were things that I had never seen nor tasted. Our tour guide offered us some of them. Olivia refused but I did not. Hope I do not get sick.

We then went back to the hotel to rest and eventually get ready for dinner. We walked to a local restaurant named “Ponchos” for Poncho Villa. The restaurant was beautifully decorated and we had some great local dishes.

After dinner we walked to the local plaza and right into a huge mass of humanity. Vendors were selling food, clothing, jewelry and other items all around the plaza. A large platform was set up with lots of folding chairs around the stage. The band then came out to perform. A singer named Willie Colon performed and many of the locals in the audience started to dance. What a scene. I could not take any pictures since there were so many people.

What a day. I am exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Tomorrow we visit two more ruins and another cenote. Our trip is starting to wind down as we get closer to Cancun.