On a cool gray January morning that Jane and I had anxiously been awaiting, we leisurely biked to the city center and boarded the nine AM Oriente bus to Kimbilá.
(Check out our web-site for bus terminal information and details about the “Noreste” and the other buses of Yucatan.)
Kimbilá has the distinction of being the manufacturing center of Yucatan for fancy embroidered ladies blouses and dresses.
Izamal is known for its gigantic Mayan pyramids and classic colonial Spanish structures.
The return bus ride is best for its scenic towns but the countryside in this part of Yucatan is nondescript at best with low thorny scrub over a flat unremarkable plain.
The following story is told with captioned photos;
Jane is biking the quiet Mérida side streets to the city center in January 2009.
Out of the tourist loop in silent Kimbilá I manage to get my head into the church photo.
Fresh cut meat sold in the city center of Kimbilá directly in front of the church.
Street dogs, “callejeros” are busy sniffing and frolicking around the street meat-market.
Parking and traffic are not problems in Kimbilá where the scarcity of motor vehicles and absence of stop lights create a welcome relief from Mérida’s pushy-shovey horn-honking madness.
Ten AM finds us having our morning iced coffee and fresh locally made hot tortillas on the main street of Kimbilá where it is so quiet we become anxious in anticipation of some unforeseen event that is surely not going to happen here anytime soon!
The trip proves to be well worth the effort for we have found a priceless commodity…quiet.
Across the street is the unassuming Taller de Bordado, a retail store and sewing factory and this is why all the bicycles are parked here. Inside are countless sewing machines busily humming along turning out fancy embroidered clothing mostly for exportation.
Inside of the sewing factory this is one of the many rooms filled with workers who all came to work on their bicycles.
Jane shops at one of the many Kimbilá stores featuring the locally made handy-work of the talented sewing artisans. These clever people produce unique adorning patterns that reflect the embroidered work of the ancient Maya.
We were impressed by the quality of workmanship and the excellent materials used.
Taxi service in Kimbilá goes at a sensible rate and the kids are delivered home from school for lunch by this smiling lady operator.
The town of Citilcúm on our way to Izamal is little more than a wide place in the road, but it is home to some people. Check out this main zocolo park directly across the street from the church that is skinny pickings for this horse sniffing out a meager meal of dry parched nearly invisible grass.
This is becoming a rare sight in Yucatan these days. Henequen cut and neatly stacked atop this antique truck rolls through town to be processed into sisal rope fiber. The process is so labour intensive that even Mexico is losing out to the cheaper producers in Brazil.
Citilcúm still keeps this industry alive and thriving. Throughout Yucatan even these small towns manage to keep their churches functional, though numerous evangelizers are encroaching.
Our first rest stop in Izamal is at this little park dedicated to the caste war that raged across Yucatan for nearly sixty years, ending about the time the revolutionary war began in 1910. (Peaceful places have no history.)
These cement “love seats” designed for face-to-face intimacy have been standard city park fixtures for many years in Yucatan.
Behind me and our little folding bicycles you will see the color that makes Izamal distinctive. For whatever reason I am not sure but throughout town you will only find this yellowish color paint on the city’s buildings. It is very nice and very distinctive.
Izamal is a major photo-op stop and tourist destination in Yucatan and I will not attempt to do justice to the many impressive Mayan pyramids or spectacular colonial structures in this story but refer you to the book Maya Missions by Richard and Rosalind Perry. I also encourage you to search the web where abundant information is available. Above is a statue of the notorious Bishop Diego de Landa who had a hand in the development of the Izamal monastery in the 1500’s and is noted for torture and the burning of Mayan books.
A pawn shop in downtown Izamal is not a positive sign of good times in Mexico.
The colossal amount of stone harvested from the ancient Mayan temples that stood here to build this city is simply mind boggling considering that several enormous pyramids still remain standing to this day. We recommend Izamal as a must-see place. Bring your camera, read-up ahead of time and by all means take a guided carriage ride.
On the streets of Izamal and near the municipal market venders turn local fruit to money.
A couple of blocks east of the main square Jane and I found this lovely little cocina economica that produced a hardy local dish known as “potaje” which is a stew heavily laden with vegetables, pork, lentils and spiced just right. The option of adding lethally hot habanero sauce is at your own risk. We make tacos with the fresh tortillas that are included with the meal. The portion is very sustaining and is the required quantity for active bicyclers.
This a Mérida street in January in our neighborhood on the way home from the Centro bus terminal in the city center. Jane is wearing one of the Kimbilá embroidered blouses.