17 10 2009

I have been continually amazed and astounded by the hospitality shown to us by strangers in Mexico, and it looks like Belize will be continuing this awesome tradition.  We have had a whirlwind first two weeks, traveling down the Yucatan Peninsula from Cancun to Valladolid, where we saw the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, and then down to the Belizean border and Orange Walk, where I am writing this.

We originally intended to do homestays with Rotary International folks, but our communication has not been the greatest, and we had none planned as we set out from Cancun with stomach upsets and a scorchingly hot sun.  With that lack of planning and forethought, we stumbled upon first the small pueblita of Vicente Guerrero, where we were put up by a lovely evangelico family in their thatch-roofed cabin out back.  After we asked to camp on their land, a friend of theirs asked  them, “why didn’t you just let them sleep in your house?”  We showed the local kids our tents, and let them bounce around as we cooked over an open fire.

When we got to Valladolid the next day, we were tired, sore, and sunburnt.  This trip was going to be harder than anyone else had thought.  With that attitude, we stumbled towards a local church and asked to camp in their park.  With permission, we set out for cheap tacos and an early night.  Two hours later, Doug and I returned to play frisbee with the dozens of kids in the park.  Long after dark, we realized that Jenny and Kiersten had never left the restaurant (that was a lady’s home).  We found them sitting with a 3-generation group of local women, sharing life stories.  Jenny even found herself adopted by the abuela, Cheli.  Long story short, we had the best empanadas of our lives, slept in hammocks in her niece’s house, and learned more about the town than we ever could have hoped for otherwise.  Her entire family lived on the same street, and she seemed to know every person within a mile intimately.  She also gets up every morning at 5 to fry >200 empanadas, and her family sells them at local schools.  Super Abuela, indeed.

I had been to Valladolid before, but only on the tourist loop.  This town has such an amazing vibe outside of that limited scope that I don’t think I will ever be able to travel that way again.  Of course, for that I am going to have to stop leaning on Jenny’s skill and learn Spanish…




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