Welcome to Valladolid, an inland Spanish colonial city in the state of Yucatán in Mexico with a strong Maya history. We are living here for three months with so-so Spanish language skills. And welcome to our impressions of settling into a typical cement casa in a different culture in a middle-class working neighbourhood.
They are everywhere. Mostly sleeping on the street. Or hidden behind wrought-iron fences in an enclosed backyard. Dogs here probably wish they were born in North America where they would be pampered, fed organic food, receive shots from expensive veterinarians for optimum health and walked daily by their owners via a special doggie leash.
Whoops! Except for this man in the photo who agreed to hold his teeny-tiny dog for me. Despite the heat, the little fellow was shaking.
The people’s market is a 15-minute walk from our casa. Most food stalls are tended by Maya women in snow-white huipils, their traditional tunic dress embroidered at the edges with colourful floral designs.
We are partial to the vendor opposite Stall # 130. She has come to recognize us and we are sure she charges a fair price.
When purchasing produce like lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, poblanos, habaneros, we use a disinfectant to sanitize the skins before eating to avoid stomach troubles, like Montezuma’s Revenge.
The product is called microdyne, sold in bodegas (supermarkets, 3 major ones in town). 10 drops per 1 litre for 15 minutes to remove contaminants and pesticides. And
we drink bottled water.
But hey…no problemo with tequila or mezcal!
My favourite creatures to watch in our garden. These tiny lizards, like mini-dragons the size of your little finger, dart to and fro, leaping magnificently into the air, landing safely in a nearby bush, as if they have wings. Sometimes puffing out their throats, they remain silently in one spot. Blink and they’re gone.
Something typical happened on the way to the Valladolid post office. Which is in the middle of nowhere.
The P.O. is located on the other side of the city. Norm suggested we wait until after the noon hour crush before taking a taxi. It's that far away.
After our driver wound his way through many pot-holed one-way streets, we arrived at the post office. A desolate location, it was part of a cement building with one lonely agent in a bare, windowless room.
It appears no-one uses the post office anymore. Maybe this is why we rarely see postcards?
We had asked our taxi driver to wait for us while we posted our letters. After our business, we scrambled into his back seat as he started his car. Except no response. The engine had died. He called a friend and while waiting, kept re-trying the ignition. No luck. Finally, his taxi friend appeared and we transferred into his back seat.
But not before our new driver helped his friend push his stalled vehicle. That's all the car needed...a push to get started!
Will our mail ever make it to its destination?
When we stopped at a nearby cenote, we chatted (in Spanglish) to the attendants. They were curious to know why we would stay in Valladolid for three months.
So Norm showed them a live video from our doorbell camera at home. It was recording the recent heavy snowfall as the white stuff piled high on our street and driveway.
One attendant gasped in disbelief. Astonished, he beckoned his co-workers to see this extraordinary spectacle---where humans actually lived---of wild blowing snow swirling thickly from the sky.
They all stared in amazement. Wow! they exclaimed.
Then they turned back to us, emphatically nodding their heads. Ahora entendemos! Muy frio en Canada! Now we understand! Much cold in Canada!