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Old 03-06-2017   #1 (permalink)
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Yucatán Escape: Progreso, Merida & area - February 2017

After our visit to Playa, Xcalak & Mahahual last April we decided to change it up a bit this year. We'd been dying to get back to Merida after our trip there in 2012 but were torn with also wanting a beach vacation (since we knew it would be as hot as hades in the city) AND also wanting to try a new destination...so that's where Progreso came in!

Scott's parents were looking to add a couple of extra weeks to their vacation after their one week near Playa at a timeshare, so we decided to plan a trip together...then my parents got wind and wanted in, and my sister, brother-in-law and baby niece, too...so it became this huge family vacation.

We headed straight for Airbnb since we'd had such great luck with bookings in the past. There were so many super affordable options for Progreso since it's not as developed & glamourous as Playa, and we finally settled on a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom beach house right on the border between Progreso & Chixchulub...at under $200 (Canadian) per night!

Flying into Cancún was significantly cheaper for us than direct into Merida, unfortunately, so we booked a private airport transfer with our friends over at Lawson's Original Yucatan Excursions, whom we had used in the past for tours, to get us from Cancún to Progreso. We arranged for a stop in Merida for some grocery shopping at Walmart on the way. The transfer was actually quite affordable when divided amongst the 8 adults. Had it just been Scott & I we would've bussed it on the ADO (which we did last trip to Merida), but with so many people we decided to go the easy route and be comfortable for the 4 hour drive. (*We had looked at renting a vehicle, but we needed a van for all of us and it just wasn't feasible).

We flew WestJet on a red-eye flight from Edmonton (YEG) with a connection in Toronto (YYZ) so we got into Cancún at about 1:30 in the afternoon.


Flights were uneventful, however they only had the FMM immigration forms onboard for us to pre-fill as they had ran out of the customs declaration forms.


We arrived along with at least 4 other full plane loads (from Canada and the US it seemed) so you can imagine the hell that was the imigracion line! This was the longest we've ever waited, definitely over an hour as we snaked up to the front. Stamp, stamp, stamp, bienvenidos á Mexico. Now we needed to find the customs form to fill out since our flight had ran out of them...good luck with that. No one seemed to know where to go for it, and the workers were less than helpful. While the family waited at the baggage carousel to make their way through the sea of people, I went on a mission to find the damn forms. I spied a few people gathered around a desk filling something out so I asked if there was any customs forms and low and behold there they were, scattered about. I grabbed one for each family and made my way to the baggage carousel where they were still waiting on a bag. We quickly filled everything out and got in the much more reasonable line for customs (aduana), pushed the button, all green lights, go!

We were much later getting outside than anticipated, so Scott's parents (who were waiting for us along with our driver, Cesar Medina) were getting a little worried. We finally emerged from the terminal and were whisked away to our waiting 12-person van with its beautiful air-conditioning and cold beverages. Ahhh, now we're on vacation!

We hit the toll highway towards Merida as it cuts off significant time and topes. It's a very boring drive with jungle to the left of you and jungle to the right...but with a few cold bevvies and snacks we couldn't have cared less. Ralf from Lawson's had recommended we stop at the service island about half-way down the toll highway where we would find a gas station, toilets, and a couple of small shops, including Doña Tere's for some damn good tamales. We, of course, took him up on it and stopped for a delicious late lunch. We tried a couple of different types of tamales as well as tacos.









Back in the van we were off to Merida for a quick stop at Walmart. We figured this was the quickest and easiest place to stop to stock up on groceries since it's just off the Periferico (ring road). It was easy enough to find everything, however since it was already past 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday we could not purchase booze Boo-urns. Oh well. By the time we got back outside it was already starting to get dark, so we got back on the road for the short trip to Progreso.

Since we arrived in the dark, I didn't really take many photos. We hit the pool for a chilly dip and were all in bed before 10:00. First thing in the morning I took a pano/360 photo thingy.


Stay tuned for more!
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Old 03-06-2017   #2 (permalink)
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Our first full day was spent just lounging around the house. Other than hitting up Oxxo for booze & ice, I don't think we left the patio much at all, other than for meals. The pool was cool in the mornings, but as the day warmed up so did it.

For lunch, a couple of us went to Restaurant David's which was about 100 meters away, up the sandy side street next to our rental and just across the street (Calle 27) near the Oxxo on the corner (Calle 12). It was convenient, cheap & super tasty so we ate here numerous times during our stay. David is a Canadian ex-pat, and his wife, Conchita, does the cooking out back with a few other staff sometimes (sometimes it's just her). It's a very clean restaurant, and you can eat inside up front, or out in the back garden under the trees. It also has the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen in Mexico...complete with toilet seats & toilet paper!

For our first lunch, we went with a fish ceviche (they did not have any fresh shrimp that day), a fish dish (mojarra blanco in a garlic sauce), chiliquiles, and grilled chicken breast. Everyone enjoyed their meals very much, and better yet was how cheap it was. All entrees were about 120-130 pesos, and the chiliquiles were 90 pesos.









We returned that evening for dinner for the famous wood-fired pizzas and they did not disappoint! They were so good. At just 100 pesos for a medium or 150 for a large, you can't go wrong. The place filled up quickly with ex-pat's, and David joined us at our table to chat throughout the evening.

We shared a number of pizzas: Toscana, Hawaiiana, Bacon, and Bolagnesa, as well as some interesting Caesar salads.











Bellies full, we headed back to the house to play cards on the patio. The last one to bed was my brother-in-law, Tyler, who went in at about 12:30. He locked up and called it a night.

And that's when things went bad...

At about 1:45 a.m. I was awoken by my sister banging on the window telling me to come inside right away (our bedroom was out back in the courtyard and only accessible from the outside of the house), as she was certain we had been burgled. Not the way you want to be woken from a dead sleep, let me tell you.

We ran into the house where we took a quick inventory of our stuff and the open patio door and sure enough someone broken in sometime after Tyler went to bed...they were probably lurking on the beach below and knew we had gone to bed.

We found two rusty screwdrivers on the ground by the door which were used to pry the locked door open (including breaking the lock). My MacBook Air & fancy Michael Kors laptop bag were missing, as was Scott's Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, some coin we had been using for the card game (not a big deal), and ONE of Scott's shoes.

Just before, my sister, Jenelle, had been up with the baby when she thought she heard someone downstairs. She thought it was one of us, so didn't pay much heed at first. As she walked around with the baby trying to get her to sleep she walked downstairs only to find the doors wide open and that's when it was discovered. We think the intruder probably heard her coming down and took off in so quickly that he only managed to get the one shoe on and didn't take the charging cables for the computers. Thank God there was no encounter between my sister and the intruder as I don't know what would have happened.

Stupidly, we had left our computers charging in the living room & dining room overnight. Scott's tablet was in plain sight of the patio door, mine could only be seen from inside the house. Rookie mistake...except we KNOW different...our common sense was on vacation apparently.

The door was locked for sure, but we neglected to put in the bars in the slider track...we honestly just didn't think it was necessary if the door was locked...naive, I know. Let's just say it never happened again.

Anyhoo, I was fuming mad that this was happening to us -- we are such staunch defenders of how safe Mexico is as a destination, and here we were, burgled on our second night. I ran to get the housekeeper, Maria, who lived in a house in the back courtyard. She spoke no English, so I typed it out on Google translate so I could speak to her in Spanish and she & her husband came running. They called the police for us who arrived within minutes.

I have to say the response was very quick, and at least 4 officers came. Only one spoke some English, so between our broken Spanish and his broken English we managed to communicate what happened and he took a statement. They walked up and down the beach but didn't see anyone. We did, however, find the perpetrators sandals at the bottom of the stairs to the beach...he probably slipped them off to be quieter as he lurked on the patio. The cops asked us to leave everything as is and not repair the door until they could get a photographer out later in the morning. They also told us we had to report it to the Ministry (Direcion de Seguridad Publica y Transito) in town who would send out an investigator.

So we all tried to get back to sleep for a few hours (good luck with that). I felt violated more than scared. We had a break-in at our home a couple of years ago while we slept as well...there's just something more brazen about it when you're home. I was up at the crack of dawn, just couldn't sleep anymore. I had messaged the owner of the rental, as well as my friend, Ralf, and both were shocked. Ralf offered to drive out to pick us up after breakfast and bring us into town and translate for us as he was certain no one there would speak English...and he was right. The office clearly deals with a number of services (investigations, divorces, family disputes, traffic fines, etc.) and we were the only gringos in sight. We waited for about 30-45 minutes in line, and finally we got to go to a desk in the back to give our statement.

Initially they weren't going to allow Ralf to translate as he isn't one of their translators on the official list -- they wanted to call someone in from Merida -- but after some discussion and a few phone calls, he was allowed. Scott & I presented our passports (as did Ralf), answered a bunch of questions (why do they need to know our occupations back in Canada? lol), and we gave the details of what happened, what was missing, etc. It took about an hour, maybe more...I lost track of time. I was rotted.



I can also see why most tourists don't bother to ever file a report because it's so friggin time consuming and complicated. Anyways, he printed three copies of the report for us to initial and give a thumb print, then we were given a copy to give to our insurance company (if we had taken more than just medical & cancellation insurance...gawd, the one time we didn't take the all-inclusive insurance package ). He then advised he would be sending the investigator out to the house shortly to take photos and fingerprints and collect the evidence (i.e. screwdrivers, shoes). What a waste of a morning, but we felt it necessary so the officials know what's going on in town.

The investigator was there by the time we got home, he did his thing, and left...and that was the last we heard of it. We knew not to hope to ever see our stuff again. Luckily we have the Find my iPhone app on the laptop so we locked it and wiped everything and are supposed to get a notification if anyone plugs it into wifi, but that hasn't happened...it's probably in pieces, parted out. We also posted on the numerous local ex-pat facebook groups we found...apparently we're not the first this has happened to, and I'm sure not the last.

It didn't help that our rental was at the end of the public road which offered easy public beach access, so anyone could see that there was new gringos in town and plot their crime. The only good that came of us reporting is was that we did see an increased police presence patrolling the beach at night for the rest of the vacation.

Back to happier things...

We had arranged with the housekeeper, Maria, to cook us a Yucatecan lunch. She arrived early and cooked everything from scratch. It was soooo good. It consisted of sopa de lima, a homemade habanero salsa which will burn your face off, lol, and some sort of tortilla with refried bean & shredded fish with a sauce (sorry, cannot remember the name). It cost us $10USD to have her cook us lunch + the cost of groceries! Such a deal.





Stay tuned for more...
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Old 03-13-2017   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry, got a little distracted this past week, plus I had a huge post with lots of photos that crashed and didn't post, so I will be posting smaller posts in case it happens again. Now, back to the trip report...

We decided to take the family on a tour of Merida since none of them had been before, and along the way we added a hacienda and cenote once we gauged how everyone was enjoying themselves (mainly for my sister & her 9-month old baby, it's hard to tell how long they would want to stay out & about)...but that's the beauty of using a company like Lawson's Yucatan Excursions which is totally private & customizable, even on the fly.

We were picked up promptly at 09:00, loaded into our van with our driver & guide, and headed out, first stopping in Chicxulub for some chicharrones for a breakfast snack en route to Merida.



On the way, the highway cuts through some mangroves and there were thousands of birds and a curious cocodrillo sunning himself just a few feet from shore on a concrete block. No flamingos in site, however, as they had mostly all flown to Celestun.

Entering Merida, we cruised down the Paseo de Montejo, and entered the main square near the cathedral where we parked and jumped out to explore for a bit. We visited inside the gorgeous cathedral, viewed the amazing artwork inside the palacio de gobernador, and grabbed some mouthwatering sorbet from the oldest sorbeteria in Merida (we shared a bunch of flavours...including corn! and it wasn't too bad). We then headed a few blocks away for some quick shopping at an artisan market, and then we decided we'd had enough of the sun and jumped back in the van to see some more Merida neighbourhoods.





















On the way out of town we stopped at a huge cemetery which was like a giant city onto itself.





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Old 03-18-2017   #4 (permalink)
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Sorry to hear of yr robbery,
liking yr report, merida and progreso are on our destinations list soon, more so merida for the cultural and architecture aspect of it, looking forward to the rest of your journey.
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Old 03-20-2017   #5 (permalink)
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After we left Merida, it was on to Hacienda Yaxcopoil, with a quick stop at the market in Uman for some fruit. Scott & I had visited Yaxcopoil on our last trip to the region and really loved it, though we didn't get a chance to explore it on that trip. This time we did!

I believe the entrance was 100 pesos. You can tour a number of restored rooms in the main house complete with furniture and photos. This particular family lived quite handsomely, to say the least. There are a number of rooms that are off-limits and not yet restored, but I can only imagine what this place will be like if they do ever finish the restoration. In a separate building across the small veranda is the kitchen and dining room, as well as a small museum of Mayan artifacts they found on the site during the construction.

Out through the garden, we passed a restored house that is now available for rental. We didn't get to see much of it as someone was booked in there. Next we saw the water holding tanks (like swimming pools) and the water irrigation system they would have used back in the day. And finally we popped out in the huge open field that is lined with the beautifully ornate machine buildings, etc. We explored for a while before finally needing some cold drinks and lunch under a tree in the shade.

























Desperate for a cool down, Ralf suggested we head on to a small cenote nearby in the village of Peba. It's called Cenote Sambulá and we were the only ones there!





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Old 03-20-2017   #6 (permalink)
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Later that evening after we got home and freshened up, a few of us hopped on the local bus and headed to the Progreso malecon. The bus stop was only a block or so from the house and cost about 60 cents Canadian per person...seriously! Now, it's not exactly first class, but it sure beats walking in the heat. We took it all the way to the downtown parking lot where all the busses make their final stop and then it's just a couple more blocks to the malecon.

We hit up Milk Bar a few times during the trip. The food was good, prices very reasonable, great music (lots of Led Zeppelin, etc.), and sometimes you just want a burger & milkshake. I also tried the roast beef sandwich and it was soooo good...honestly. The giant mound of nachos we ordered, though, weren't great.







After stuffing ourselves (yes, there's a theme on our travels) we decided to walk along the malecon after dark when there were no cruise ships in port -- it's almost all locals (with a few ex-pats) and while it's quieter than the day, there was still a festive atmosphere, which is nice to see. Every block or so there was marquesita or churro stands, or stands selling elotes & esquites, vendors selling balloons & toys, and a few souvenir shops. I'm not one to pass up a marquesita, so we stopped for a treat. My sister & brother-in-law had never had one before, but I think we converted them! Love it with Nutella and cheese...yes, try it, it's honestly amazing and is apparently the favourite way for locals to eat it.







The next day we had Maria cook us lunch at the house, and again it didn't disappoint. So good. Cannot remember what it was called, but we all had seconds.



Later in the afternoon, we headed back into town again, and this time Scott had to have some elote. It's steamed corn on a stick, slathered with mayonnaise and sprinkled with chili & a squeeze of lime. It tasted great...but I'm assuming the mayonnaise that had been sitting in the sun all day is perhaps the reason hubby was feeling a little under the weather later, lol.



I'm not sure if it was the same evening or not, but we ate at Eladio's right at the end of the malecon. The place was half-full, with live music -- think terrible karaoke at ear-splitting decibels -- so we took a table furthest away, with a view of the ocean. It really made for a terrible atmosphere, and the food was mediocre at best, plus the servers were pretty lazy. We all tried something different so we could share, but honestly nothing stood out.







The next morning, Scott & I decided to grab a bus into Merida for an early anniversary. The Auto-Progreso bus terminal is just a block from where the city busses park downtown, and tickets were about $1.60. The line was already fairly long, so we had to catch the second bus and it quickly became standing room only (thankfully we snagged seats, though). The ride was fairly quick, maybe an hour in total and ended up at the Auto-Progreso station in centro. It's about 7-10 blocks to the central square, if I remember correctly -- it was quite a walk in the heat is all I recall, lol...and it was morning!





We walked to our hotel (Hotel Casa San Angel) which was at the end (remate) of the Paseo de Montejo and were able to check in early and drop our bags to go explore. We ended up with the Doctor's Suite on the main floor, right off the lobby. It was actually quite nice, with comfy queen bed and hammock, TV, desk, large armoire, and a gorgeous bathroom with jacuzzi tub and walk-in shower...plus crazy high ceilings, at least 15 to 20 feet high, and these awesome doors with little windows/doors we could open to view either the lobby, or out onto the street.











Once we got our bags offloaded, it was off to explore the Paseo de Montejo. Our first stop was lunch at Hennessy's Irish Pub which is right on the Paseo in an old colonial building. We visited on the last trip and really enjoyed it, so it was on the list for this trip. I had the most mouthwatering burger I've had in ages (soooo friggen juicy and tasty, omnomnom), and Scott had the curry which he really enjoyed as well, plus he was very happy with their selection of cold cervezas. A must visit when in Merida! (Their super cold A/C doesn't hurt, either, lol).





After lunch we headed across the street to the anthropology museum which is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings on the Paseo. All of the exhibits are in Spanish, but we could easily figure out what we were looking at. The exhibit concentrated on a few main sites but was pretty neat nonetheless, and I learned about a new site I had never heard of before, but do you think I can remember the name now? Anyways, worth a visit for sure.









It was a great way to kill an hour or so and get out of the heat. Yes, the heat. The heat in Merida is almost oppressive (and this was February)...the last trip was in May and it was the hottest I can recall ever experiencing in my entire life, coupled with insane humidity, it made it almost unbearable during the day. February was a few degrees cooler, thankfully, but still 10+ degrees more than in Progreso. We managed to walk around for a bit longer, finding shade where we could, before retiring to the hotel for a late afternoon siesta in the A/C oasis of our room.
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Old 03-20-2017   #7 (permalink)
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After a nice nap and a refresh, we headed out to find a nice place for an anniversary dinner. We hadn't made reservations, but decided to head to Santa Lucia square to see if we could get a table at Apoala as we'd heard good things. Unfortunately we struck out on getting an outdoor table at such a last-minute, however we did score a table for two inside, which considering the heat even in the evening, made more sense for us sweaty gringos. It's a funky place with great service and the food (and drinks) was to die for. It's a little spendy, but not too crazy for a nicer meal out. Definitely recommend dining here. Scott tried one of their signature Mezcal cocktails which was super strong, and I went with a classic margarita which was really nice.







Our starter was a scallop & octopus ceviche -- amazing!


I went with the sea bass, which was probably the best I've ever had


Scott went with the arrachera which was so flavourful but filling


After dinner we strolled back towards our hotel which sat on the remate of the Paseo de Montejo which is the very location of Noche en Mexicana Saturday nights in Merida. Literally 20 feet from the front door of the hotel was the stage with all kinds of dancers and singers. It was very cool to watch. And just a few more feet away was dozens of vendors selling tacos, marquesitas, and all kinds of crafts & souvenirs...location, location, location.





We enjoyed a lovely evening in Merida and cannot wait to come back again for a much longer stay. In the morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at the cafe across the street, and then we met up with Ralf for a another private tour -- we just headed out with no destination in mind, just see where the day took us. This is the best way to travel.



On the way out of the city we passed this wall, lol.
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Old 03-24-2017   #8 (permalink)
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As usual, your TR is awesome! So sorry about the burglary, you gotta wonder what goes through a thiefs mind when doing this, asshole. Glad to see you didn't let it ruin your fun!
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Old 03-24-2017   #9 (permalink)
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Interesting. When we were there last year there was all sorts of scaffolding in front of Casa Montejo. I hadn't realized they were installing nets.



Full disclosure: we ate at Sorbeteria Colon every day. Often twice a day, one time at both locations; if we were honest with each other we would have eaten there more.

Did you try a champolla? I had a chocolate one the very first time but went with a sorbete each time after that.



I saw that hotel when we were at Noche Mexicana and thought it looked really nice - glad to hear it was.
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Old 03-27-2017   #10 (permalink)
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After our lovely night in Merida (which wasn't near long enough), we woke early to meet Ralf from Lawson's Yucatan for another private tour, this time for just Scott & I. We had chatted with Ralf about just wanting to drive and then stop whenever we found something interesting. Our criteria was half-day (4-5 hours max), must include town(s) we've never been to before, architecture would be nice, maybe some ruins, just surprise us. He had something in mind, so we jumped in the car (a sedan this time) and off we went. Note: since it was a Sunday and we were staying at a hotel right on the remate of the Paseo, some of the streets around that feed into that area were closed off in the morning to allow for the bicycle route, so he had to park a block or two away and we walked to meet him; not a big deal, but something to consider if staying in the area on the weekend.

As we headed out of the city he pointed out a few things, and explained what living in the area is like, some of the uniquely Mexican experiences, etc. It was great to get a local perspective. And while we could've easily rented a car and drove ourselves, this was a no stress relaxing way to explore and I highly recommend it.

Our first stop was the ruins of Aké. First, before we hit the ruins, we entered into the small village that is built around the site. It is within the walls of an old henequen hacienda. There is a nice church, though we didn't stop to visit, and then the ruins of the henequen mill/machine buildings, which actually still have some partially working equipment inside that the locals still use to this day to process henequen.











We walked around the ruins of the building and outside we met two men who were tending to their vegetable garden right alongside. They explained how they use the leftover pulp from the henequen as a fertilizer on the field and then took us to check out their crops. In this particular field they were growing mint and squash. We purchased the largest bundle of mint (freshly picked) I've ever seen and a bunch of squash for like 20 pesos.









Fresh veg in hand, we drove around the building to the parking lot of the Aké ruins. At the entrance there is a small washroom building, but you need to get the key in order to use it. A few yards away is the booth where you pay your entrance fee, which I think was super cheap, maybe 30 pesos, and where I asked for the washroom key. The man jumped up and escorted me over to the building, unlocked the door, and proceeded to give me a bucket of water...to flush with! There was no running water or electricity in the building at the time (though it does appear it had it at some point). Also missing were the toilet seats, but by this point we're used to that in Mexico . Let's just say the washroom was less than clean and I was in & out in 10 seconds flat. Thankfully I had packed hand sanitizer in my day bag. Anyways, I can't say I was totally surprised since this is a rural site that doesn't get a ton of visitors like many others, and since the guy was napping when we arrived, security is probably also not an issue.

The site itself is not huge, and I'd say we spent less than an hour there. All of the buildings are climbable, and from the tops you can catch a little breeze which was most enjoyable. One of the structures we climbed had very uneven steps and probably the highest step-height we've encountered at any of the other ruins -- honestly, it was a stretch at some points to climb to the next block, and this also made the descent tricky in places. We had the place to ourselves, save for a handful of what I believe were Mexican nationals.









After climbing a few more structures, Ralf led us down a path behind the site that led to other unexcavated structures (tons of them), as well as part of the Sac Be (white road) that connects up to other sites in the region, and a small cave. We did not venture into the cave as it didn't look the most inviting and we're not exactly that kind of adventurous...let's just say I guarantee there was bats, snakes, spiders, and other things that would eat you The path doesn't appear to get much use and was fairly grown in. There weren't any interpretive signs to speak of, nor were we offered a guide, so thankfully Ralf knew some of the history of the site to share with us. If you do plan to go I would read up on the site if you can find anything.

By this point in the day we were a sweaty mess, but Ralf had our backs -- he had a cooler full of ice cold drinks AND ice cold wet facecloths to cool ourselves down waiting for us back in the car. This guy thinks of everything! As we drove back through the village we were stopped by an older gentleman who recognized Ralf. On a previous visit he had shown Ralf & guests his sheep & goats and proceeded to make a whip out of henequen fibres. He had one made and ready to go today so asked if we wanted to buy it (these guys are enterprising, I'll give 'em that), so Ralf gave him a few pesos and we ended up with a whip...what exactly are we going to do with that?!

With tummies grumbling, he suggested a stop at nearby Hotel Hacienda Ticum since it was on the way. He said it was a small restored hacienda with a great little restaurant, so off we went...and it was awesome! The hacienda dates from 1810 and is now owned by a couple from Montreal, I believe. It only has about 10 rooms, but the grounds were spectacular, and we would definitely stay here on a future trip. It is fairly affordable compared to many of the other restored haciendas that now operate as hotels, with rooms ranging from $199-299 USD (compared to others which range upwards of $500+ per night).











We took a seat on the covered veranda overlooking the grounds. The service was top-notch, and the food really good. We had caprese salad, quesadillas and some tostadas.







The next stop on our "magical mystery tour" was the city of Tixkokob. It used to be a very important city in the region. Its name in Mayan means "place of poisonous snakes" -- thankfully we did not see any while there, lol. What we did see was a typical Yucatecan city, bustling with tricyclos, markets, papel picado hanging across the street, a beautiful church, and a really cool almost century-old bakery which we stopped at, called Panificadera El Rey. Ralf knows the family who owns it so we stopped in for some snacks to bring back home. Since it was already mid-afternoon we missed the actual baking out back, however the owner did oblige us with a tour of the building and where the magic happens, including some of the original ovens...though he also now has more modern ovens as well. He spoke really great English, telling us he learned from watching American TV as well as from his brother who is a doctor in the UK. He explained, sadly, that he is probably the last of the his family to run this place as his teenage daughters are not the least bit interested in carrying on the family tradition. The kinda bummed me out, but then we were presented with tables of sweets: cookies, biscuits, breads, you name it...and that cheered me up again,









After a very full day, we headed back to Progreso for some relaxing by the pool. Honestly, I cannot recommend Lawson's Yucatan Excursions enough. We had such a great day, saw things we'd never have seen if on our own, I'm sure. It was worth every penny. (Sorry, I know I sound like an advertisement for them, but I honestly do recommend them while in Yucatan).

Anyways, stay tuned for more...
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Old 03-27-2017   #11 (permalink)
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That evening we went to Elio al Mare again for some amazing Italian food, overlooking the beach (well, it was dark, so we couldn't really see the beach, but we could feel the breeze and hear the waves). We ate here a few times during the trip. Honestly, some of the best handmade pasta we've ever had, certainly up there with that of Papa Charley's (formerly Util Pasta Factory) in Playa del Carmen. We all tried different dishes and every single one of us was very happy. Also a surprise was the AMAZING hand-cut french fries on the menu...very unexpected but so yummy. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photos; the lighting was very low).













The next day for brunch, Scott & I, along with his parents, walked to Chicxulub to try a new café called The Wombat Hole, owned by an Aussie ex-pat. Steve & Wendy had stumbled across it a few days before and really liked it, so we had to go try. It's a tiny place with just a couple of tables and a small menu, but worth a visit if you're in the area. There was no signage outside with its name on it, though just look for a blue wombat on the roof and you'll find it, lol. The food was delicious and all freshly made. Apparently they also make their own yogurt, too. It only opened in January but is already getting quite the ex-pat following.













Another day we went to Crabster for lunch. This is a higher-end restaurant located on the Progreso malecon and it gets good reviews. The food was ok, but nothing special. Perhaps we ordered the wrong thing. The service was so-so and they tried hard to upsell you to the big lobster platter for more $$$. We each tried something different, but again, nothing to write home about. And for such a spendy place I expected something more. That said, friends have been for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed their experience, so perhaps it's worth another try if in the area. We had Caesar salad, Crabiana salad, tuna, and some sort of shrimp/crab burger.









Stay tuned for more...
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Old 03-27-2017   #12 (permalink)
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Another day we had lunch at Barlovento. It was good, nothing fancy, but good. There was a drink special, too. This place is popular with ex-pats.







One morning, Scott & I, along with his parents again, decided we wanted to go to the ruins at Dzibilchaltun. I had read that the cheapest way was to catch the bus to Merida (even though you technically pass the site), then grab a colectivo from there back to the site. Taxis in Progreso were charging $60-90 USD for the trip, so we thought we could save a ton of money doing it our way. So we hopped on a Auto-Progreso bus into the city, then walked to the square where all the colectivos park (I think it's Parque de San Juan). We asked a number of drivers, but none were going to the ruins at Dzibilchaltun! We then decided to ask a taxi who was parked on the square what he would charge to bring us there, wait, and then back to Merida -- it was like $30, so we hopped in. It was a tight squeeze in his little Tsuru for 4 more grown adults, but he was happy for the fare. Off we went to Dzibilchaltun; by now, late morning and getting hotter.













When the Spanish came, they built their own church and structures right on top of the Mayan ones.



There is a nice cenote on site that you can take a refreshing dip in. Unfortunately, the only place to change is to walk all the way back to the washrooms at the entrance, or hide behind one of the ruins and take your chances, lol. Scott & Steve decided to go in, as did a few other tourists.





The site is large and requires a bit of walking, which I don't recommend at the hottest part of the day like we did If you arrive earlier in the morning, or later in the afternoon, it should be fine. A few of the structures are climbable, though a few are roped off, such as the Temple of the Seven Dolls. There is a long Sac Be that connects some of the structures, as well. Some sort of flying insect (no idea what it was) followed Wendy for the entire time we were at the site. It didn't sting her, but it was very annoying and just would not quit buzzing around her head. We were unsuccessful in killing it, though we certainly tried, lol. After touring the site we headed to the beautiful museum on site. It is air-conditioned and very welcomed after baking in the hot sun for an hour plus. The artifacts on display are great, though only some of the signs are in English. There is technically two buildings to view, laying out the history of the region, right up to the henequen plantation days. And then outside there is a typical Mayan house you can explore, before heading back to the main building at the entrance where you will find washrooms, souvenir shop, and a small restaurant upstairs (though it was closed when we were there). All in all I think we spent about 2 hours at the site. Had it not been so hot we could've spent a bit more time exploring. It's such an easily accessible site from Merida or Progreso, and there are tons of "tours" as well. I believe entrance was closer to 100-125 pesos per person.

Back in Merida we decided to grab a late lunch before heading back to Progreso. We had the cabbie drop us off in centro and we walked around a bit before finally settling on Los Trompos. We had eaten here on our last trip and liked it. It's a chain restaurant, but it's super affordable and tasty and the restaurant has A/C! Plus, I have been dreaming of those crunchy salty yummy cheese "chicharones" even since 2012!









Finally, we ended our afternoon in Merida with another stop at Sorbeteria Colon for some of that yummy sorbet. This time it was coco all around.



Oh, and I just found more photos from another trip to Elio al Mare for some of that fine Italian food. I think we ate there 2 or 3 times at least!











This was Scott's pasta in squid ink...it was actually pretty good, even though it was jet black.


Anyways, that's about the last of the photos I can find. Unfortunately I lost some photos with the theft of the computer which I had not uploaded to photobucket yet.

All in all, we had a really great vacation to Progreso. We all agreed we would absolutely go back. I would like to spend more time in Merida, though, and maybe add a few nights at a hacienda, but I did like being near the beach and that nice cool breeze. Speaking of breezes: February is off-season for the most part, mainly because the locals find it too cold to be at the beach. There is often a strong norte wind blowing in the afternoons which brings up the waves and stirs up the water so it's a bit murkier. The primary visitors to Progreso and area are Meridanos and other Mexican nationals who have beach houses here and come in the super hot summer months to escape the heat of the city; other than that there is a growing group of Canadian and American ex-pats, as well as the occasional cruiser, though they typically head straight from the ship to a tour, not really spending much time in Progreso itself, other than along the malecon...but that's fine with me

On our last day we had arranged for Lawson's to pick us up again for our transfer into Cancun. Steve & Wendy were dropped off at Luz en Yucatan for a few nights as they were staying longer, and the rest of us headed back. We did another quick stop at Doña Tere's at the service island on the toll highway. I grabbed a few more tacos, as well as an iced Italian coffee from the Italian Coffee Company shop next door, and we were off to the airport for our evening flight.



At the airport we grabbed dinner since we would not be arriving in Canada until close to midnight. As usual, everything in the airport is overpriced and mediocre at best. We also purchased some tequila and mezcal that we couldn't get back in Canada, and then it was time to go home.

While we can't wait to come back to Mexico, we're planning a trip to Portugal (the Algarve) for February/March 2018 in the meantime. Scott's parents have rented a holiday let for a month so we'll join for a week or two, and hopefully squeeze in a trip to Mexico sometime soon as well.

Thanks for following along!
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Old 03-29-2017   #13 (permalink)
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Noooooo!!!!! This TR can NOT be over. Go back, now, and report more. Pleeeeeze . I really enjoyed this, along with your other TRs. I would love for life to settle down so We could enjoy getting away again. It's been 4 years since we took a vacation and I've been able to hang on because of people like you who kindly share their holidays with us. Thanks!!!
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Old 03-29-2017   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharonD View Post
Noooooo!!!!! This TR can NOT be over. Go back, now, and report more. Pleeeeeze . I really enjoyed this, along with your other TRs. I would love for life to settle down so We could enjoy getting away again. It's been 4 years since we took a vacation and I've been able to hang on because of people like you who kindly share their holidays with us. Thanks!!!
Awe, you're too kind. I absolutely understand how life can get kinda hectic. What drives us to make sure we travel is that we live in the Northwest Territories where we have winter for like 9 months a year, so we have no choice but to have a nice holiday somewhere warm & tropical just to get through those long winters!

I wish I took more notes, more photos, and started on the trip report while I was there so things were still fresh in my mind. I feel like I left so much out. Oh well. Now the countdown is on to Portugal for a change of pace, but I can assure you we'll be back in Mexico before too long...it's only a seat sale away & a good airbnb rental

Thanks for reading!
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Old 03-30-2017   #15 (permalink)
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Update to the stolen laptop saga:

just today we got notification through the "findmyiphone" app that the computer was finally connected to wifi. At that time it was immediately locked & wiped (as per the options available to us on the app), plus we added a message on the screen that it was stolen and the location was being sent to police (it wasn't, as I have no idea how to contact the police there, lol). We could even google map the location right down to the building and it appears to be tracking from inside (or near) a school in Puerto Vallarta!!! (called Centro de Computacíon Empresarial de Autlan S.C.)...so that's about 2,000 kilometers away! So we're not sure if the original thief is now in Puerto Vallarta or if he sold it to someone or if it's some sort of crime ring, lol. Do the narcos from Vallarta vacation in Progreso?! lol
A short time later it went offline, but as soon as it goes up again I'll send another annoying message & lock it again. If I can't enjoy my MacBook than no one else can, right?! Now I have to spend over a thousand dollars to replace it which really pisses me off...that's more than the cost of airfare!
Anyone have any police connections that want to help me communicate with them?
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