Monday, July 15, 2013

Museo del Mundo Maya, Kayak, Punta Laguna, Tulúm, Valladolid!

Chac Mool: This is the name that has been given to this type of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone statue. We went to the Gran museo del mundo Maya and were able to observe, closely, one these marvelous sculptures. Chac Mools are usually found in Central Mexico and Yucatan.
The Gran museo del mundo Maya was opened on December 12, 2012. According to the Oficina de turismo here in Mérida, It's the newest museum in all of Mexico. The main purpose of the museum is to give complete and affordable access, to both tourists and the community, to the culture of the region. The Museum is very affordable and they offer plenty of discounts for students. Our experience at the Museum was fantastic!
This is La ría or estuary were we went kayaking. This ría is is quite close to Progreso beach. Our students enjoyed this activity very much. That day we kayaked for 2hrs. After kayaking we walked to Progreso beach and spent the afternoon there.
Taylor wanted to show everyone that he could do a backward somersault.
Kate and Sandy demonstrating their kayaking skills...
Here is everyone, perfectly talented! It took us almost half an hour to get everyone in position ;) but we did it!
Punta Laguna, what an incredible place. Punta Laguna is a a Spider Monkey Reserve. Punta Laguna is located to the northeast of the Yucatan peninsula, 18 km north from the archeological site of Cobá. The spider monkey is the most abundant mammal of the area. 
The lagoon is simply gorgeous.

In Punta Laguna, visitors can enjoy activities as diverse as hiking, birdwatching, monkey watching, zip-lining, and rappelling. we can all say that we have been in Paradise! Akumal is a small (but incredibly beautiful) beach about 100 km south of Cancún.
We were all enchanted by Akumal's beauty; however, that afternoon, we were attacked by some really mean mosquitoes.
Tulúm is a Pre-Columbian Maya city. Many of its majestic ruins are situated on about 40 feet tall cliffs. This is a view of the God of Winds Temple, in Tulúm.
Sea turtle nests can be seen all along the beach...fortunately, they are all protected.
We arrived at Valladolid just in time to enjoy one of its famous Vaquerías.
On our way back to Mérida from Tulúm, we made a stop in Valladolid. This charming city is located in the southeastern part of the state of Yucatan. This picture was taken in the main square of the city.
After exploring downtown for a little while, we went ahead and ate lunch at a restaurant located in the premises of the Cenote Zací...needless to say that the food, the view and the atmosphere were excellent!
Taking a short break by the Cenote after a delicious lunch...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cooking Class, Uxmal, Loltún, Party!

On Thursday we had our cooking class! The chefs prepared three delicious dishes that are quite particular to this region: Picadillo, Frijoles Charros y Guacamole, Yum!

Here are our talented chefs explaining how to mix the ingredients...

On Friday we went to Uxmal. I must confess that we were all impressed by how beautiful and well preserved Chichén Itzá was, but, honestly, Uxmal is just way more inspiring, soul-stirring, dramatic, breathtaking, remarkable, mighty, monumental and...
We are all so proud to have such a wonderful group. These are the best students in the entire world. That morning we left from school at 8:30 a.m. We arrived at Uxmal at around 9:30. We were there until 12:00 p.m. The students were very happy to know that they could climb most of the pyramids in Uxmal, except for the one behind them (Pirámide del adivino). In that case, we decided that since we were not going to be able to climb it, we were going to have our Uxmal group picture taken right in front of it ;).
Yes, iguanas are quite abundant here. They even pose for you...
They all wanted a picture...
Here are some of our students on the steps of the Palacio del Gobernador...
Great view of the Casa de las Palomas seen from the top of the Palacio del Gobernador...
At around 1:00 p.m. we headed over to Loltún. The Loltún Cave has numerous paintings that have been attributed to the Mayan civilization. The cave is very extensive. The tour of the cave lasted nearly half an hour.
A gentleman from Guanajuato was kind enough to take this group picture of all of us. The Loltún Cave is a magical place, and this picture shows that...
Saturday was a very emotional day because we had our July 4th celebration! The party was a lot of fun. All the host families did a great job helping us with the logistics and the overall organization of this celebration; we would have not been able to have such a successful Independence Day party without their unconditional support and help.
After a delicious dinner, the students started showing how much salsa they have learned. They are so talented. It is impressive how much their salsa dancing skills have improved in such a short period of time. We are now working on a choreography for our farewell party. I can't wait to see them rock the dance floor!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Second Week: Chichén Itzá, Izamal, and Dzibilchaltún

Last week we had a guest speaker that came to talk about the history of the Mayan Calendar, its importance and also taught us how to interpret/decode it.

Here is Dr. Christopher Gotz explaining how to interpret/decode all the symbols that make the Mayan Calendar.
Last Friday we had our excursion to Chichén Itzá and Izamal. Chichén Itzá was really impressive! Our students were enchanted by this magical archeological site, which was recently (2007) recognized as on of the seven marvels of the modern world. The scene at Chichén Itzá was one of breathtaking beauty.
Here is Abigail running away from one of the many snakes that can be found at Chichén...

Yes, this picture was a must. 

As I said, Chichén Itzá is a magical place. Our dear instructor Melissa made a wish and it came true; she was able to fly...

After spending close to three hours walking through Chichén, we went to Izamal. Izamal is a small town which is 40 miles east of Mérida. Izamal Is known as "The Yellow City, because all of its buildings are painted yellow. This is a picture of the "Convento", located in downtown Izamal 

The impressive arches and columns of the "Convento" were perfect for a group picture. After wandering through the "Convento" for about an hour, we headed over to the main Plaza and had ice cream...
On Saturday we went to Dzibilchaltún. This archeological site is about 10 miles north of Mérida. 

Our Butterfly-Whisperer, Paige, was able to hold and pet one of the many butterflies that were flying around...
Dzibilchaltún also boasts a beautiful and cristal clear "Cenote"...

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Week! Very Busy!

Our first week in Mérida was extremely busy. We (the instructors) are very proud of all of our students for the many things that they have accomplished this first week. On Wednesday, our students met for the first time their canto/música instructors.

On Thursday, we had a guest speaker that came to talk about the History of Mexico and of Mérida. The students learned, among other things, the role that the Yucatán Península, and in particular Mérida, played during the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).

On Friday, we went on a bus tour around Mérida. The tour was at 10 a.m. We decided to meet at 9:00 a.m by the Cathedral located in downtown Mérida. It was a great morning for a group picture!

On Saturday, we went to the beach, in Progreso, almost an hour away from Mérida by bus. Our super-star Ian took a great picture of some of us getting ready to play soccer. We didn't have goals, so we had to improvise and made them with sticks, shells and coconuts that we found around the beach.