Friday, February 27, 2009

One last vacation post

This post is specifically for my grandsons; Samuel, William, Benjamin and Calvin. Julie has been telling me that the boys have been waiting each day for her to show them my vacation here is a last one just for them.
Hi guys! How would you like to go swimming in this pool? It is actually just one pool in a series of 10! The pools are connected by art and interesting structures and you can swim or drop from each one to the next. There is a fountain in the photo which wasn't on when I took the picture. There are also no people in the pool, because I took the picture on Friday when everyone was busy getting ready to leave. Another fun thing about the pools is that they were open 24 hours a day. We didn't check how many people were swimming in the middle of the night...because we were too busy sleeping.
Some of the pools were connected by canals such as this one. Isn't it a pretty picture? The brown square is a bridge over the canal to walk on.

This is the pool where we most often sat...and swam. Picture Papa and I laying in the sun (to the right of the picture) and looking up at that stone tower.

Surprise! That is what we could see at the top...a fountain. They had the most creative things in these pools. I wish you all could have been there to swim with us. By the way, they also had two different drink places in the water, one at each end of the pools. You could swim up and sit on stools under the water and order something to drink. What do you think of that?? Grammy loves Pina Colada's, pinata style (that means no alcohol in Spanish). It is really fun to sip on one in the swim pool. It was a lot of fun to go swimming outside in February!
Hope you enjoyed your post and our vacation.
Love, Grammy

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flowers, flowers everywhere

Today I thought I would post some of the photos I took of the beautiful flowers and landscaping we enjoyed on our vacation. Being someone who enjoys gardening, I took a lot of notice of the shrubs and flowers and trees in the Yucatan. It was great to get a gardening vacation from the winter brown of my garden at home.
I certainly don't know the name of most of the plants represented here, but enjoyed their exotic beauty none-the-less.

The thick foliage seems to be a perfect backdrop for many of the blooms.

There were many coconut palms, and here the coconuts were green, but we saw them in various stages of ripening, and a few on the ground.

There were flowers adorning every building and structure it seemed...

Different plants were used for ground cover, and here is vinca just like at home except in MUCH larger proportions.
Another thing I particularly enjoyed was the coloring of the leaves....they were as beautiful and unusual as the flowers themselves.

Here is my favorite insurance man in front of a hedge of colorful bougainvillea...

This is some of the landscaping we enjoyed at our resort...made all the more incredible as you realize it is carved out of the jungle.

More fantastic leaf color...there were plantings all around of clusters of this plant. I wish I knew it's name...does anyone out there know?

When massed together the foliage and flowers were just incredible!

Close-up of one of the beautiful blooms...

Even the trees were surrounded by flowers...

and they also used 'moss rose' for ground cover there. Such pretty little blooms.
I hope these photos brought a touch of the sights and smells of the tropics!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The 'Island of Women'

Come along with me as I remember a very fun tour we took
to Isla de Mujeres (pronounced mu-har-es). This island was
discovered in the 1600's and the explorer that first went ashore
found small stone images of women left by the Mayans, and thence
named it Isla (Island) de (of) Mujeres (Women).
The island is only 5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide at its widest. It
is located about 8 miles from the city of Cancun in a northerly
direction in the Caribbean.
Here are the 4 of us getting ready to board our ship that
will take us to the island. Are those supposed to be
native costumes?? I'm not sure!
This is the ship we traveled on, and the water was rough. This
boat really rocked and rolled. There were a few unfortunate
The first thing we did was sign up for snorkeling gear. We left shortly after for another boat ride out to some coral reefs where we had a great time snorkeling in the lovely water and seeing some amazing fish. I have no pictures of that as it was not a good place to have a camera!

After snorkeling we enjoyed an outdoor Mexican buffet lunch, then onward to our island tour. The main transportation around the island is on golf carts or mopeds (small motorcycles). We followed a leader around the island in this
golf cart (2 in front and 2 in back) and had a really fun time. We stopped 3 times for views and scenic spots.

This is the only village on the island and is about 4 blocks in length, although very congested. There are a few taxi's and they wait somewhat patiently for the carts and a chance to pass...

This is what most of the island looked like. There is this double lane road around the island.

Here is a view of the Caribbean and the city of Cancun from the island.

We first traveled to Punta Norte or the northern end of the island. This had the best views as you can see.

The only Mayan ruin is here at Punta Norte.

We had lots of views of the houses on the island as we went along. They were from all economic levels: some very nice like this one, some Palapa's or thatched roofs, and some just old trailers.

Beautiful flowers and blue skies, just like in the travel posters...
Another very nice house....aren't the bright colors vivid against the sky and water?
We drove to the southern tip of the island which is the eastern-most point of Mexico (about 100 miles from Cuba). Our final stop was at this beach area where we could experience the white sands and beautiful waters.
It was a full day, but so much fun to experience Mexico in a more native way.
Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chichen Itza....Mayan Ruins

This post is going to be much like a travel-log I'm afraid...because we certainly were the typical tourists when visiting this site. We took a 2 1/2 hour bus ride through the Yucatan jungle to get to this most famous site of the Mayan Empire. We watched an interesting video on the way about the Mayans and their civilization. One thing interesting to learn was that although the ancient civilization was lost, their are still about 6 million Mayan Indians still living in Mexico and Central America. Chichen Itza (which means the home of the Itza tribe of Mayans) is probably the most famous of the ruins that have been found. The pyramid structure above is the one most often shown in photos of the ruins. It has just lately been added to the list of the 'new' 8 wonders of the world.
There are 4 symmetrical sides with a stairway of 90 steps going up on each side. You can no longer climb the stairs or go up to the structure close enough to touch it. My father-in-law Larry was lucky enough to visit it when he was able to climb the stairs to the top, although he shared he did fall on the very top step. This structure was a temple or sacred building and they think only priests could go up to the top. It was also used as a burial site for a Mayan king under the structure. Dad told us that he was able to see into some of the rooms underneath when he visited. The ruins of Chichen Itza are approx. 22 square miles, with many structures they have uncovered with various purposes.

This is a ball court wall and hoop, where the Mayans would play a particular game. It seems to be much like soccer where the ball was hit by hips and feet or even heads but no hands or arms. The idea was to get the ball through this hoop.
This is actually a better view of the court and there is a similar wall on the opposite side, with the opponents hoop. The captain of each team would run along the ledge on his side, shown above by the line at the base of the vertical stone wall. The structure above the wall was for the high born Mayans watching the game. There were three of these structures on three sides of the court. Of course although it was a high honor to win this game, the winning captain was then sacrificed after the game.
In all our touring and listening to our tour guide it is so apparent once again that mankind is always ruled by our sovereign God. This was a very intelligent but very pagan civilization, and like others before and after, it was judged and destroyed by our God.
This is a representation of the carvings on stones that were used in the facades of all the buildings. Modern archaeologists have been able to learn much from these carvings and they were interesting to see. The Mayans had their own form of hieroglyphics and it has taken many years to interpret them. Another interesting thing is that originally all these stone buildings were washed with bright colored 'paints', and would have been red, orange and yellow. This structure was their observatory. This was the center of their learning. The Mayans had a very advanced understanding of numbers, and a precise calendar of months and years. They were the first civilization known to come up with a concept of 'zero' in the numbering system.
The area is much too big to explore it all, and truth be known it was a bit too hot for me and my sister-in-law had a headache. So after some basics we waited for our 'amature archaeologists' back at the entrance. It was interesting, and I feel our imaginations are always expanded by exposure to other cultures and dreams. There are many Mayan ruins around the Yucatan and into Central America, and some left to find out in the jungle. Remnants of a society God wiped out. The Bible says some middle east cities and civilizations were wiped out forever, with nothing left to show where they had even been. Here we at least have the remnants to piece together what the people were like and what they had learned.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mexican Animals

We saw some interesting animals and lots of beautiful birds on our vacation. The pelicans are everywhere around the water. They are considered trash birds there like seagulls are here because they will eat anything. One big difference is that they are quiet with no loud screeching.
We saw many iguanas all around our resort. They blend in so well with the rocks though that you can hardly see them unless they move. The Mexican people hunt them in the jungle and eat them. They say it's much like chicken, but don't they say that about frog's legs too?

We also saw alligators. When the resort developed the land, they kept and penned the alligators that were there. We saw small ones (about 12 inches) a few middle size ones and also the full grown, which looked much like a log.
One morning some other people in our building were feeding the birds. After the birds were through, we looked out and an interesting animal was eating what was left. I asked about it and found that it was a 'Coati Mundi' or mexican racoon. It had rather short red brown fur and a very long tail.
The birds were in the trees right outside our balcony every morning and we woke to birdsong and calls. They were beautiful colors and we really enjoyed watching them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maya Riviera

Doesn't this look like a beautiful postcard? We stood right there and enjoyed this view and the warm breezes on our vacation last week. What glorious color the water was. The Lord is so creative to make different bodies of water different colors.
This was the view going the other direction. Beautiful ocean, rocks and a Mayan ruin.
We went on vacation with my insurance man's brother Cliff and my sister-in-law Peggy for a week. We all had a wonderful time and came back very relaxed. We saw many interesting things and I have told my grandsons that I would post some photos of them. So for the next few posts I will be showing pictures and talking about the things we experienced.

This is one of the first things we saw. It is called a Cinote (pronounced sin-o-tay) and is a sinkhole. On the Yucatan Peninsula there is no surface water. All water is underground, and there are lots of these sinkholes. The water in cinotes is fresh, sometimes part of an underground river, and is used for drinking water in the Yucatan. This cinote is one of the largest (in diameter) and I am taking the photo from above at the edge. The vines hanging down are roots trying to reach water.

My insurance man and his brother took the opportunity to swim in the cinote and really enjoyed the experience. The water is at least another 125 feet deep below them. The temperature was cool, but not really cold. They saw a few fish swimming with them.

This is what the wall of the cinote looked like and you can kind of see the stairs on the far side that let people walk down to the water. Several people were deep diving into the water from the steps since it is so deep. Insurance man was content to climb down into the water and just swim.
We were blessed with a really fun and relaxing vacation...more tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wendy's Creamy Sausage Stew

I just love the look of this before it goes in the oven to roast. It's basically peppers, onions, red potatoes and some kielbasa. This is another recipe from my Hot Providence cookbook. My husband gets kind of excited over this one. It roasts a long time in the oven, but otherwise is pretty simple. I'll post the recipe below. Wendy's Creamy Sausage Stew
10 medium red potatoes cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped (I used some red, some yellow)
2 lb. smoked Polish sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices. (I used kielbasa, but would like to get some natural chicken sausage to try in it.)
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbs. dried basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. water
Put potatoes in large roasting pan. Add onions, peppers and sausage. Toss. Combine oil, basil, salt and pepper. Pour over meat and vegetables, toss well. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir. Pour cream over. Cover and bake 45 to 60 more minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine cornstarch and water, stir into stew. Place on stove top and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. (I don't do the cornstarch step. I never thought it needed thickened.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

I took two of my children to a free Library class today. On our way out we saw that there was a book sale going on and stopped to browse. I got a couple of good finds and a few others that I didn't necessarily need but they only cost 10 cents! One of the ones I didn't really need was this cute little copy of the classic Beatrix Potter story, "The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle." I have all of Beatrix Potter's stories already, but this is a very nice little hardback with a dust jacket that has a comfortable "old" look to it. I figure that I can put it in my daughter's room on display or give it to mum, who adores this little hedgehog.

When my 8-year-old, William, saw the book, he said, "I don't really like Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle." Our conversation continued like this,
Me: "Your Grammy sure does!"
Will: "I know. I know why she likes her."
Me: "...because she's a washer-woman?"
Will: A nod, then he runs to his room, coming back with a postcard in his hand. (My mom had sent a postcard to William once after she had been here to visit. She had stayed longer than my dad because the baby's birth she was here for was overdue.) Will read it aloud to me. She talked about her trip home and ended by saying, "Now I'm doing all of Papa's dirty laundry." Will looked up at me and said, "See. She's a washer-woman!"

Just For Fun

Do you ever wish you could enjoy your jam this much?