Snorkeling the cenotes

Snorkelling in Xel-Ha

Snorkelling in Xel-Ha

By Steve Gerrard:

You don’t need to be a diver to enjoy the crystal clear cenotes. These incredible windows to the underground can easily be explored by snorkelers. Proper equipment allows the snorkeler not only to see, swim and breathe in the water, but also provide a level of comfort and confidence, which changes this alien world into a friendly and familiar place. There are four basic pieces of equipment that provides the opportunity to see these extraordinary cenotes; mask, fins, snorkel and buoyancy vest.

THE MASK – you cannot see underwater unless you have some type of air space between your eyes and the water. The eye is designed to see through air because it is less dense than water Goggles were first designed and used but had problems with pressure squeezing around the face causing pain and risk of injury to the eye and surrounding area. By using a bigger air space that includes the nose, it is possible to exhale into the mask and equalize the pressure inside with that from outside. With a flexible and comfortable skirt, the mask provides the clear vision to safely view the underwater world. Continue reading

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Conchero’s sanctuaries and pilgrimages

Concheros in the plaza

Concheros in the plaza

Yolotl González Torres
INAH, Mexico

Pilgrimages in Mexico are very common ritual practices which generally take place in Catholic sanctuaries with a strong pre-Hispanic syncretism as we shall explain later. According to written texts by the chroniclers there were many places of pilgrimages in pre-Hispanic times and several scholars think that many of the important pre-Hispanic archaeological ceremonial centers were also pilgrimage centers (Martínez Marín, Piña Chan) and that some of them developed into urban centers like Teotihuacan (Heyden) Besides, there is for instance the evidence of the Huicholes, an ethnic group very little affected by Spanish culture, for whom the pilgrimage to Wirikuta in search of the peyote plant plays a fundamental role in the religious life of the community; ” they pass along the roads where the cosmos is built as they move to the sacred places. They serve the gods, doing what they established, repeating their actions and the world they created” (Rajsbaum p.47). We must bear in mind also that one of the most important mythico-historical accounts of a journey of the Mexica people from Aztlan- their land of origin somewhere in the Northwest of Mexico- to the island in the lake in the Valley of Mexico where they founded their city Tenochtitlan, was called a “pilgrimage.” Continue reading

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Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) cc_S Masters wikip

Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) photo: S Masters

From Wikipedia:

A pitaya or pitahaya is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas). These fruits are commonly known as dragon fruit – cf. Chinese huo long guo “fire dragon fruit” and long zhu guo, “dragon pearl fruit,” Vietnamese thanh long meaning “sweet dragon,” Indonesian and Malaysian buah naga, “dragon fruit,” Lao mark mang gohn for “dragon fruit,” and Thai kaeo mangkon “dragon crystal.” Other vernacular names are strawberry pear or nanettikafruit.

If not otherwise stated, this article’s content refers specifically to the pitayas of Hylocereus species, or “dragon fruit.”

The vine-like epiphytic pitaya-producing cacti of the genus Hylocereus are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Continue reading

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San Juan de Ulua

San Juan de Ulúa (Siglo_XIX)

San Juan de Ulúa (Siglo_XIX) by Eduardo Pringuet

From Wikipedia:

San Juan de Ulúa, also known as Castle of San Juan de Ulúa is a large complex of fortresses, prisons and one former palace on an island overlooking the seaport of Veracruz, Mexico.

It was built in the Spanish colonial New Spain era, with construction starting in 1565. It was expanded several times later.

In 1569, the Spanish Navy succeeded in trapping the English fleet of Sir John Hawkins, including the young Francis Drake, at San Juan de Ulúa. The English barely succeeded in making their escape, a humiliating experience which affected Drake’s later career. Continue reading

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Restoration of San Juan de Ulua

San Juan de Ulua Photo: Frank C. Muller

San Juan de Ulua Photo: Frank C. Muller

From INAH:

The value enhancement of San Juan de Ulua Fortress in Veracruz Port, one of the priority projects of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) will undergo soon its second stage, which includes work as the integral restoration of Casa del Gobernador (Governor’s House) and the faces at Plaza de Armas, currently out to tender.

This was announced by architect Salvador Aceves Garcia, adviser to the INAH General Direction at the first day of activities of the 9th Encounter for Revitalization of Historical Centers, taking place in Mexico City from October 18th to 20th 2010 with the participation of experts from Cuba, Chile, Spain and Italy.

Continue reading

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