Saturday, February 16, 2019


Going through photos from the trip, figuring out what to keep and what to ditch, found that I really liked this one.  All of them have great memories, but this one stood out.

On the trip I used two cameras -- a ten year old Canon S3 and an iPhone 6.  Primarily used the iPhone because it is convenient, and people say "the best camera is the one you have with you."  But it is limited in what it will do, and you never know.

Took this photo with the iPhone.  It was taken early in the morning, in diffuse light of the interior courtyard of our house.  For the record, the phone tells me it is "ISO 50, 4.15mm lens, f2.2, 1/120 second."  Whatever, I am just very happy with the photo!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On the Biciruta

Back home, but with fond thoughts and memories of Mérida.

A couple of things from our Biciruta ride on Sunday.  

I love the 'controlled chaos' of that ride!  A mix of cyclists (with lots of learners), pedestrians, skateboards, 3- and 4- wheeled contraptions -- all moving slow and somehow without accidents.

Perhaps the strangest group.  With sights like this -- well, reality is enough for me.

And a favorite game, adapted to Mérida:  "Pin the Cross on the Nun."   I didn't play.  Figured my eternal salvation could be in the balance someday, and not sure how a game of "pin the cross" might count...

And two happy riders!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The same, only different

Along Paseo Montejo there are a lot of beautiful old buildings.  Some are restored, some need a bit of work.  When we saw these, we were reminded of the famous "Painted Ladies" of San Francisco.  T. Chong said it best:  "... the same, only different."

Painted Ladies of San Francisco

Painted Ladies of Merida

Saturday, February 9, 2019

It's hot!

83 degrees now in Merida -- pleasantly warm.  Probably peak somewhere in the mid-90s this week -- a little hot, but not bad.  In our upstairs room, mid-afternoon -- maybe 100 degrees, terrific for a siesta.  But if you want real hot -- turn to these: Habañeros.

It's hot!

Originated in the Amazon basin way back, then spread throughout the tropical areas of the Americas.  People have been eating them for at least 8500 years -- seeds have been found in old archeological kitchen site digs in Peru.  Yucatan is the world's largest producer today.

Many of us human beings will eat anything once (".. count me in, gimme a taste, it might be good...").  But it's a bit of a mystery why any of us would eat these twice!  Actually, they are terrific, but you've got to be very careful with them.  They are one of the world's hotter peppers, up to about 350,000 units on the Scoville scale.

We can get them here at the local market.  Price is so low they are all but free.  Have been cooking with them as a key building block of dinners, and a small bit of a pepper is ample for a dinner dish.

There is a global cult of people who eat hot peppers as a hobby -- bite it, chew, swallow.  This is a terrible idea, but there are some interesting vids out there.  Here are a couple -- an objective report, and the redneck version of same.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Colonial Semiotics

Another chapter in the history of Merida street signage.   Semiotics -- the study of signage -- this is exciting stuff!

Click here -- Los Cuadros -- for a basic rundown on the ultra-cool street signage system evolved in Merida, and some photos of same.

Neighborhood?  The Electric Bulb
There isn't a lot of formal published history of this system, so I've had to piece some of this together.  It seems to me that the painted street corner signs date from late-19th century through mid-20th century.  Some are clearly pretty old, but some are more recent -- like the "Electric Bulb".  Edison patented the lightbulb in 1879, so the sign is probably early-20th century?  And I've seen one sign showing a primitive helicopter -- which I'm guessing must date from mid-20th century.  Nothing more recent than that.

This signage system is actually not the original -- it is a "new and improved" version, introduced as a modernization of the original colonial system at some point after 1840. Stephen's describes the original colonial-era system on page 48 of Incidents in Yucatan:

"...The streets are distinguished in a manner peculiar to Yucatan.  In  the angle of corner house, and on top, stands a painted wooden figure of an elephant, a bull, a flamingo, or some other visible object... that in which we lived had on the corner house a flamingo, and was called The Street of the Flamingo."

I had only seen the modern signs, the kind painted on a wall plaque, never the original physical statue kind.  Thought it would be interesting to see if I could find any physical evidence of the original system.  I've walked all over looking at corner rooftops, but no luck so far -- they may all be gone.

Original Statue
Then I happened to visit the Merida City Museum.  By lucky chance, they had a photograph showing a corner with both types of signage -- it has the original statue on the roof, and also he more "modern" painted graphic much closer to the ground!  They also had the original rooftop statue on display, beside the photo.

Mid 20th Century Painting, Street of "The Elephant"

Friday, February 1, 2019

Katie arrived!

... and is testing the hammock

Stephens on "an attack of fever"

Believe it or not I'm on page 289 already!  My experience is that 15 pages is enough to put me to sleep any time, which means I've gotten at least 19 naps out of this book -- with plenty of pages remaining.

You can plant me here if I don't pull through
I came down with a case of something. Horrible chest congestion with mild fever.  So I went to see a doctor here.  Nice well educated guy, gave me a pretty thorough physical then prescribed a bunch of stuff.  His office was basic -- I thought I'd wandered into an abandoned bus station -- but his medical skills and attention seemed top flight.  Enough of me, I'll probably live.  But it is interesting to me that Yucatan has always had a bit of reputation.  Stephen's and his posse roamed all over, dealing with persistent illness and fever bugs. Here's another quote from page 259 of his book, which pretty much sums it up:

"... at the time of my attack Mr. Catherwood, Doctor Cabot and Albino were all down with fever.  I had a recurrence the next day, but on the third was able to get up and move about... My bones ached, a chill crept over me, I looked around for a soft stone to lie down upon... The fever came on, and I was obliged to dismount and lie down under a bush, but the chiggers drove me away."

He survived, so I'm not too worried.  Lucky to have a nice hammock instead of a "soft stone" or bush with chiggers.