Friday, November 18, 2011


If you are in Merida and are driving on the sole road that leads to Sisal or Celestun, or one or more of the pueblos in between, you will pass by a lonely roadside sign with a pyramid and an arrow pointing down a dusty, stone road. I had passed that sign many times and curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided I would  take the challenge and head for the ruin.

As soon as I turned off the paved road, I found myself wishing that my vehicle was four-wheel drive or that I had a pick-up truck! The road is pretty much unattended, full of pot holes and very difficult on your tires.

It seemed like a forever drive down that long, dusty road, in and out of pot holes, but finally I saw some people moving around, a few houses, some farm animals, and even a tiny pueblo (of sorts). There was a very old hacienda that offered its services for parties and social events. I wondered who in the world could find the place!

The road dead-ended here and there were no other indications of any Mayan ruin to be had, so I asked one of the locals who gladly told me to turn to the right. Following his directions, I continued my journey.  Ahh! Finally! I saw an archway with the name of the ruin, and I decided that I had hit pay dirt and found it.

I parked and quickly noticed that I was the sole motor vehicle in sight. As I approached what appeared to be the entry way, I saw that it was blocked off with a gate made of galvanized aluminum fencing. There wasn’t a soul to be found.  It looked eerily deserted.

I began yelling “bueno”, which is the local way and custom of saying hello, anyone home. (I should readily point out that the word “bueno” is used in several forms of communication here in the Yucatan, although in literal translation, it means "good".)

After several very loud “buenos” a small, elderly Mayan man peered through some bushes and proceeded to the gate to greet me. He had been cutting some of the over-grown shrubs and he proudly announced that he was the caretaker. I asked if the site were open and he said no, the owner wasn’t here.

Owner, I thought? No one actually owns an historical archeological site. They are all owned and operated by the Mexican Government, save for some cenotes that are on privately owned land. I questioned him further and learned that the only time the site is available is when the owner is on premises. It seems that there are some cabins or lodges or some such similar habitats back in the over growth, and the owner does not permit anyone to enter unless it is under his supervision. Weird, really weird I thought.

I offered the caretaker a tip, well actually it was a bribe, to see if he would permit me to enter and take a few pictures and he cordially and politely absolutely refused as he feared losing his job. I understood his dilemma, thanked him and gave him a tip just for his time. He was grateful and went about his chore of cutting back some of the abundant shrubbery that seemed to be taking over.

I did take one picture and it is the one at the top of this post. I have no idea what lurks behind those man made arches, down the winding and overgrown pathways and through the woods, but I don’t think I will ever find out as I am not inclined to go back there for a second try, at least not in the very near future.

So, if you are in the area and manage to visit the ruins of Sihunchen, let me know what, and how, they were.   Until then, I will remain forever curious!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It was just about this time last year that I published this post about aguinaldos for mail carriers and employees, be they part or full-time.  I believe it is worth publishing again as a reminder to all of us living in Mexico.  So, here it is again:

Yes, it is definitely that time of year. It all starts with the mail carriers who have their special day on November 12, Dia del Cartero. In your mail box, they will leave a card with a return envelope, preprinted with their name on it. (Convenient, huh?)

You simply insert your “gift” as a token of appreciation for their service for the past year. I think they must like me because I actually participate in giving, partially because I have always given to my mailman when in the States in appreciation for the services they provide, and partially out of fear that if I don’t give, I may never receive another piece of mail as long as I live in Mexico!On the other hand, I readily give generously to my housekeeper who works for me fulltime, year round. She is an integral part of my adopted family that I have been fortunate enough to have for 23+ years now. She is a single mother and has two children and a small house that she supports on the salary I pay her. In addition, any special needs that arise, I take care of plus I help whenever I can throughout the year. Her Christmas bonus is above and beyond the norm, and includes several gifts for both her and the children. I do believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive and this is one way I can give back to the community that I have chosen to live in. Something I think we all should do.

If you live in Mexico and you have an employee such as a housekeeper, gardener, cook, driver, or just someone who stops by to help you with chores every now and then, you should consider paying an Aguinaldo. It is customary to do so here in the Yucatan and throughout Mexico as well. There are even formulas on the internet to ascertain the amount you should pay!

Basically, from what I have seen from others living here, the Aguinaldo is considered the “Thirteenth Pay”. That is, one months’ salary for either full or part time help. In addition, to the monetary part of the Aguinaldo, a gift, or gifts, are often given as a token of appreciation for loyal service and/or longevity of service, or both.

Aguinaldo’s are usually paid in Mid-November up to the first part of December and often represents the total “Christmas” the family will have, including food, drink, and gifts. Often, the children in the family will receive some new clothing as their gift and are absolutely delighted to do so! (Unlike some children “north of the border”.) Let’s face it, the people that work for us are generally poor and do the best they can with what they have. It doesn’t hurt to help. It feels GREAT!

You don’t have to give until it hurts, just give until it helps.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


By now, I suspect everyone is familiar with and/or for determining whether information received via email is just that: true/false or fact/fiction. Both are excellent sites.Advice from VERY IMPORTANT!!

1) Any time you see an email that says "forward this on to '10' (or however many) of your friends", "sign this petition", or "you'll get bad luck" or "you'll get good luck" or "you'll see something funny on your screen after you send it" or whatever --- it almost always has an email tracker program attached that tracks the cookies and emails of those folks you forward to. The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of 'active' email addresses to use in SPAM emails or sell to other Spammers. Even when you get emails that demand you send the email on if you're not ashamed of God/Jesus --- that is email tracking, and they are playing on our conscience. These people don't care how they get your email addresses - just as long as they get them. Also, emails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease "how would you feel if that was your child" --- email tracking. Ignore them and don't participate!

2) Almost all emails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards. All it was, and all any of this type of email is, is a way to get names and 'cookie' tracking information for telemarketers and Spammers -- to validate active email accounts for their own profitable purposes.
 You can do your Friends and Family members a GREAT favor by sending this information to them. You will be providing a service to your friends. And you will be rewarded by not getting thousands of spam emails in the future!

Do yourself a favor and STOP adding your name(S) to those types of listing regardless how inviting they might sound! Or make you feel guilty if you don't! It's all about getting email addresses and nothing more. 

You may think you are supporting a GREAT cause, but you are NOT!  Instead, you will be getting tons of junk mail later and very possibly a virus attached! Plus, we are helping the Spammers get rich! Let's not make it easy for them!

ALSO: Email petitions are NOT acceptable to Congress of any other organization - i.e. Social security, etc. To be acceptable, petitions must have a "signed signature" and full address of the person signing the petition, so this is a waste of time and you are just helping the email trackers.

So, effectively immediately, I will no longer forward any of this junk so please don't send it to me.  In the past, I have always felt slightly guilty if I didn't do it, but not any more.  So, I guess that means that Jesus will no longer love me because he thinks I'm ashamed of him, I won't be rich in three days, the issue won't be recognized because I didn't sign the petition, I don't really love my country, good luck will never knock on my door, and my genitals may fall off.  Life can be difficult, for sure, but I say to hell with spammers and I hope you will too.