Flying Ants & the Road to Uxmál

Well the rainy season is upon us here. As I sat down at my laptop and pondered what to write about, a flying ant landed on my lap. “Oh, great!”, I moaned out loud, “It is that time of year again!” 

Flying ants. They invade your home and leave behind a couple of souvenirs. I remember back when our floors would be covered with the wings those ants had shed.  Back before we had screens attached to the wrought iron bars on our balcony. They still find ways to sneak in and leave me reminders of their visits, but not like back then.  I love the rain, but did not love the invasion of the flying ants, and I certainly do not miss the daily mess they left upon my floors.

On a good note, that little flying ant today reminded me of a tale I once told, back when Vidal worked in the Riviera Maya, back when I had summers off to frolic and journal while he worked…

Take a deep breath, sort through my run-on rambling sentences, and I promise you those flying ants WILL appear.

Continue reading


3 Ladies in a Red Car on the Bicentennial Independence Route to Guanajuato

In 2010, one could find signs all over the country for ‘Ruta 2010’. It was a play on words – or in this case, numbers – for the year (2010), which broken up (20 and 10), represented the 200th anniversary of the Mexican Independence movement and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.  The country was brimming with excitement and national pride, waiting for the major celebrations to begin.

The Rutas de la Revolución consisted of 3 main routes. Each followed the paths of the revolution’s jefes: the Ruta de la Democracia on the trail of Francisco I. Madero; the Ruta Zapatista followed Zapata’s footsteps and the Ruta de la Revolución Constitucionalista followed the trails of Carranza, Obregón, González and ‘Pancho’ Villa.

There were also 3 main Rutas de la Independencia; we would focusing on one of them – the Ruta de la Libertad. More importantly, we were going back to a picturesque town that Ma and I fell in love with in 1987: Guanajuato,  Guanajuato.  So nice, you have to say it twice. In P’urhépecha: ‘Quanax huato’. Translation – not so romantic; it doesn’t exactly conjure up an image of the romance and legends the town holds, but definitely amusing:  Hilly Place of the Frogs.

Guanajuato – Hilly Place of Frogs, Colonial Buildings and Winding Streets

El Cubilete – Cristo Rey looks down upon Mexico with open arms.

Just outside of the town of Guanajuato is the mountain which is the geographical center of Mexico: El Cubilete, with the impressive statue of Cristo Rey on top, arms outreached.  I pulled over to take photos; we had all decided not to visit it, as we had all been there done that; besides- my memory was quite intact from that visit – a gazillion hairpin curves on a road 3 feet wide with no safety railings and straight drops down: I did NOT want to drive that road! Continue reading

Taco’s Mexican History 101: Viva Mexico! The Cry for Independence


Mural in stairwell of the Alhondiga, Guanajuato. The indigenous people – slaves – cry out to Dolores Hidalgo for help.

The Spaniards had conquered; a new era began: Nueva España. Mexico became a viceroyalty of Spain, its capital was built upon the ruins of Tenochtitlán and renamed ‘México Tenochtitlán’, renamed again in 1584 as ‘La Ciudad de México’ – Mexico City.  New laws were instated, such as one stating no cruelty to the indigenous people, but they were not very well enforced.  Some colonial officials such as Nuño de Guzmán became notorious for their cruelty.

The Spanish crown sent the Catholic church to the new land and convert the pagans; churches went up left and right, using indigenous people as workers (some would say slaves).  Along with it went the Spanish Inquisition and the auto de fé – public ceremonies of the Inquisition kind that included hangings and burnings of the heathen.  This went on from 1571 to 1850 – when the very last auto de fé took place.  That is not to say that all clergy were evil; there were a few, such as Vasco de Quiroga. who defended the indigenous people and truly did portray love.

The indigenous people may have been protected, but they had no rights in the eyes of the Crown.  Three centuries of this can leave a bad taste… Continue reading

Shades of Chevy Chase in Seville

Look Kids! It’s Big Ben, Parliament!                                   …I Mean it’s la Giralda, the Cathedral!


Starting Point: Ronda. After a good night’s rest before the satisfying continental breakfast provided by the hotel, we took a quick walk across the street to take in the morning light at Alameda del Tajo, the park with the lovely gardens and dramatic view we had explored the night before. It just seemed the perfect place to say goodbye to the lovely and romantic town that had embraced and nursed Vidal and his stomach ailment; this beautiful ancient town upon the cliffs. We thanked the hotel staff once more and at 10am headed off; having decided Sevilla would be our next stop. Vidal was still feeling a bit weak, and as this was our ‘wing-it’ portion of our Spain road trip, we thought it was best to focus on the ‘must see’ places first. We knew there was much to see in Sevilla, but we weren’t sure how many nights we would need there to experience it all. A quick stop for a supply of Vidal’s ‘agua tonica’ medicine for the road, and we were off!


Excerpt #1 from ‘ What’s a Taco Doing on the Forbidden Island? : Taco’s Adventures in Cuba’ 2000

In October of 1999, Vidal was sent to work in Varadero, Cuba for six months.  Never one to shy from exploring new grounds, I started packing the minute I heard (4 months early).  ‘The Forbidden Island – here I come!’, I thought to myself.  American media did not frighten me; I had lived abroad long enough to know that life in other countries was not quite as awful as the Associated Press would have us believe; the ‘America Way’ isn’t the only way to live.   I had just spent a few months in my native Chicago and was ready to get the ‘city’ out of me and the ‘tropics’ back in.  Cuba, here we come!

Not yet having dual citizenship, I would land on Cuban soil as an American. That meant I would not be able to find employment – which was fine with me, as that meant I would have more time to explore!

While I was there, I took full advantage of traveling around on various tours, either free as a perk of Vidal’s work, or as an invitation by tour guides who had befriended us.  Internet was available at Vidal’s nearby office, but the connection was ridiculously slow, so I would write long bulk emails about my weekly adventures, and thus my travel stories were born. Continue reading