Monday, November 28, 2011

eBooks—Free Books and Readers

The 21st century has ushered in the information age and certainly yielded a wondrous bonanza of publications, sound tracks and videos many of which are free along with all the computer programs you will need to make them usable on your digital devices.

Customers can check out a Kindle book online through a U.S. library and read it on the free Kindle for PC app.

Free eBook Collections
These books can be read on many devices and in many formats.  There are over 2 million titles to choose from.   Amazon provides a list of many good sources for eBooks.

Adobe Digital Editions
Free eBooks
Check out the Adobe Digital Editions Library, where you can browse and download free eBooks and digital magazines, including full-length novels and works of nonfiction.  With a membership in a U.S. library, you can check out online many eBooks and read them in the Adobe Digital Editions reader.

Nook from Barnes and Noble
Download the Free NOOK app for PC. Over a million eBooks, newspapers, magazines, and thousands of free eBooks just a touch away.

Project Gutenberg has 36000 free eBooks for Kindle, Android, iPad, iPhone.

iBooks; If you have an Apple device such as iPad or iPod, you may download through the iBook store many free books. (You MUST have their device.)

Calibre - eBook mangement
Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.

Audio books - Free
You can download free audio books from these sites and listen via your computer or transfer to an mp3 device.
With a membership in a library in the U.S., you can borrow and download audio books. 

My Books

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yucatán’s Magic – Mérida Side Trips: Treasures of Mayab

Finally the book for traveling adventurers who want to see more than just trinket shops and crowded tourist traps has arrived:

–Built one stone at a time like the Mayan pyramids–
Over a quarter of a century of inspired exploration and recording of our travels in captioned photo stories has led my wife and me to compile an impressive collection of outings that are the foundation for this book, built one story at a time.
We present the best of the best after over twenty-five years; places, excursions, and outings. Each place we have visited we liked for different reasons; tranquility, history, view of village life, and connect with the Maya past and present, change of scenery and a look at a uniquely distinctive region. 

Available for Kindle and  in paperback.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005POWVU8
Available as an EPUB e-book, click here.  
From Barnes & Nobles for Nook, click here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Runs on fat

It is curious that with the advent of the automobile and the airplane, the bicycle is still with us. Perhaps people like the world they can see from a bike, or the air they breathe when they're out on a bike. Or they like the bicycle's simplicity and the precision with which it is made. Or because they like the feeling of being able to hurtle through air one minute, and saunter through a park the next, without leaving behind clouds of choking exhaust, without leaving behind so much as a footstep. ~Gurdon S. Leete

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quintana Roo – The road from self-sufficiency


On a recent two month trip Jane and I became acquainted with the shopping in Tulum.
At the “Pool” produce/vegetable market, we found all under one roof things we scour Mérida for with its one million population.
Our curiosities led us to this story.
This diesel monster truck deadheads without cargo from Tulum to the Valley of Mexico, a distance of 1,000 miles or 1,500 kilometers in 30 hours, burning over 2,000 liters of fuel and returning with 28 tons of produce. This trip is made twice weekly in the high tourist season and only supplies the needs of one customer.
At the time Quintana Roo became a state there were no food imports and the people were completely self sustaining…that was 37 years ago.

By an ironic and twisted fickle turn of fate the Maya of Quintana Roo, México staved off the Spanish for 400 plus years because of one man, Gonzalo Gurerrero.
The Maya of Quintana Roo remained independent and self-sustaining. Land belonged to those who worked it…it was simple. Not like their Mayan brethren in adjacent Yucatán under the oppressive jack-boot of the “hacenderos” or Spanish hacienda owners who took their land, plundered their spiritual heritage and impoverished them into servitude.
Quintana Roo was a pristine tropical paradise abounding in seafood, dense tropical jungles of exotic flora and fauna and scarcely any infrastructure…that was then.   
October 8th, 1974, this all changed forever when Quintana Roo became the 30th state in México and the “federal land registry” established ownership with property perimeters.  When Quintana Roo first became a state it was seldom visited, had nearly no paved roads and tourism was unheard of outside of the newly created resort town of Cancún. Besides being undeveloped it was a smugglers paradise for clandestine merchandise that strangely found its way into Mexico by night.
Now the land grab would begin in earnest.   
Not until the 1970’s were highways built and Quintana Roo became recognized as one of the most beautiful resort areas in the world.
In 2011, just 37 years later, the pristine tropical forests have been stripped of their exotic timber; conch, lobster; reef fish and even the coral reef have been pillaged and plundered beyond restoration.
Infrastructure has arrived!
Airports, super highways, mega shopping malls, five star all-inclusive resorts, giant cruise ships queued up to disgorge thousands of visitors daily and land speculators, and hotel developers. Shopping plaza builders are bulldozing the jungle with no end in sight.  
Today the state is no longer self sustaining and exports are nearly non-existent.
© 2011 John M. Grimsrud

Monday, August 1, 2011

YUCATÁN PIRATES

Piracy was the scourge of colonial Yucatán, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
From the beginning of Spanish occupation of America pirates ravaged their shipping. Gold looted from the Indigenous Americans being shipped back to Spain proved an irresistible treasure.
French and English kings encouraged and sanctioned these privateers, making contracts with them specifying the proportions of the spoils.
Buccaneers John Hawkins, Frances Drake, Henry Morgan, William Parker, Laurens de Graff, Henri de Gramond and Jean Lafitte made their names legendary.
Dzidzantún, Campeche, Tihosuco, Valladolid, and Bacalar were some of the towns that the pirates brazenly conquered and occupied.  Many of the pirates took up residency with families on Yucatán’s desolate northern coast and along the Caribbean Sea. A story is told that Jean Lafitte is buried at the Gulf of Mexico coastal town of Dzilám de Bravo, Yucatán.
Speculation interspersed with myth and rumor spiced with unsubstantiated historical facts have made Jean Lafitte legendary. Here is a glimpse at some of those buccaneer stories that are floating around. 

The pirates: Jean Lafitte (1776–1823) and his brother, Pierre.

On June 18, 1812, the United States, with little naval power declared war on Britain.
  • 1812–Lafitte brothers purchased a schooner with plans to sail it as a privateer. Older brother, Pierre established himself in New Orleans, looking after their interests in the city. Jean Lafitte spent his time in nearby Barataria Island managing the business of outfitting privateers and smuggling.
  • 1813–They received their first prize, a Spanish brig, which generated $18,000 in profits. The Lafitte’s gained a reputation for treating captive crew members well, and often gave the ships back.
They now sailed three ships, the largest privately owned buccaneer fleet on the coast.
Lafitte at Barataria Island held letters authorizing them to capture booty from various foreign countries.
The citizens of New Orleans were grateful to the Lafitte’s for providing them with luxuries.
The United States Navy did not have enough ships to attack Lafitte at Barataria Island. The government then charged Lafitte with "violation of the revenue law.
Pierre Lafitte, brother of Jean was arrested and jailed on charges of "having knowingly and wittingly aided and assisted, procured, commanded, counseled, and advised" persons to commit acts of piracy".
While Pierre was incarcerated, Jean continued to operate the smuggling business.
  • 1814–Battle of New Orleans; U.S. General Andrew Jackson arrived in New Orleans December 1814. He discovered that the city had not taken protective actions, with only 1,000 unseasoned troops and two ships.
Great Britain dispatched an armada and 8,000 men to take Louisiana.
A British ship fired on a smuggling ship that was returning to Barataria Island owned by the Lafitte brothers.
The commander had been ordered to contact the "Commandant at Barataria Island". King George had offered the Baratarians British citizenship and land in the new British colonies of America if they promised to assist in the fight against the United States. If they refused the British Navy would destroy the Barataria Island base.
Lafitte was convinced that the United States would prevail in this war.
Andrew Jackson a Commander in New Orleans, had almost no men or ships. The governor was forced to free the imprisoned pirates (the "Hellish Banditi" as Jackson called them), because they were needed.
Privateer Jean and his brother Pierre guided the American forces through the marshland with 4,000 Tennesseans, Choctaw Indians, freed blacks, Creoles along with their pirates.
The British fleet reached the Mississippi River and Lafitte realized that the American line of defense was too small. The British began firing at the American lines, but were repulsed. Jackson singled out Jean and Pierre Lafitte for "exhibited courage and fidelity. Jackson requested clemency for the Lafitte brothers plus the men who had served under them.
  • After the Battle of New Orleans, where the British were defeated, President James Madison gave a pardon to Jean and Pierre Lafitte plus their pirates.
  • Lafitte’s returned to piracy. Pierre and Jean sailed to Texas and established a colony of privateers near Galveston, which he named Campeche. His ships operated from Galveston and flew the Mexican flag. Lafitte worried about a Spanish invasion, this was the time when Mexico won their independence from Spain. Lafitte created letters of privateer on behalf of his nonexistent new nation for all of the ships sailing from Galveston. These letters gave the ships permission to attack ships from all nations.  
  • 1818–The United States passed a law prohibiting the import of slaves into United States. That law had loopholes and gave permission to any ship to capture a slave ship. Newly imported slaves turned over to customs could be sold in the United States. Half the profits from the sale would go to persons turning them in. Lafitte worked with several smugglers, including Jim Bowie, to profit from the new law. Lafitte's men would hunt slave ships; smugglers would purchase these slaves for a low price, and send them to customs officials in Louisiana. The smuggler would purchase the slaves at auction and the smuggler would be given half of the purchase price. The smuggler was then the lawful owner of the slaves.
  • 1821–Lafitte and the remainder of his men sailed from Galveston aboard three ships accompanied by his mulatto mistress and an infant son. Lafitte and his men took Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico, often returning to Galveston or the barrier islands near New Orleans to unload cargo or take on supplies. Louisiana demanded that the federal government halt smuggling and the number of active pirates began to decline.
  • 1821–Lafitte's ship was ambushed as he attempted to ransom back a recent prize. In late April, Lafitte was captured after taking his first American ship. The American warship which captured Lafitte turned him over to the local authorities, who promptly released him.
Lafitte and other pirates operating in the area began targeting ships carrying legal goods to Cuba, angering Cuban officials. By the end of 1822, Cuba had banned all forms of piracy. Lafitte continued to patrol the shipping lanes around Cuba. In November 1822, he made news in the American press after escorting an American schooner through the pirate-strewn area and providing them with extra cannon balls and food.
  • June 1822–Lafitte approached officials in Colombia, that government was commissioning privateers into their new navy. Lafitte was granted a commission and a new ship, the 43-ton schooner, General Santander. Lafitte was now legally authorized to take Spanish ships.
  • 1823–Lafitte was sailing off the town of Omoa near Puerto Cortéz in the Gulf of Honduras on his 43 ton armed Colombian schooner named General Santander. Omoa was the site of the largest Spanish fort in Central America. It protected the silver shipments from mines of Tegucigalpa to Spain.
  • Lafitte attempted to take two Spanish merchant ships. It was overcast and visibility was low that night and his misjudgment would prove fatal. The Spanish ships were actually heavily armed Spanish warships and they opened fire. Lafitte was wounded in the battle. He died by dawn and was buried at sea in the Gulf of Honduras. Two obituaries have been found for Lafitte: the Gaceta de Cartagena and the Gaceta de Colombia wrote that "the loss of this brave naval officer is moving". No American newspaper ever carried an obituary for him.
By 1825 piracy had been essentially eradicated in the Gulf of Mexico, and "the new world.
Ultimately the Spanish navy actively and vigorously hounded these privateers, destroyed their sanctuaries, shooting and hanging the freebooters.  Deprived of their plunder many former pirates turned their efforts to smuggling and trading in exotic clandestine tropical woods.
For whatever it is worth, many of the costal towns of the Yucatán peninsula are said to be peopled with descendants of these pirates to this very day.
Speculation about how Jean Lafitte died;
He changed his name and disappeared.
He was killed by his own men after leaving Galveston.
He rescued Napoleon and they died in Louisiana.
Jean Lafitte was killed on his privateer ship General Santander, serving Columbia, in 1823, age 41, in the Gulf of Honduras. Lafitte encountered two disguised Spanish warships, was wounded, died and buried at sea.

Pierre died in 1821 in Mexico and was buried in the town of Dzilám de Bravo, Yucatán; a monument to Jean Lafitte is there today.
About 13 kilometers west of Dzilám de Bravo in a small cemetery a wooden grave marker was found with the inscription; Jean Lafitte. (Historians question the validity.)  Pierre Lafitte, Jean’s brother, is known to be buried in that cemetery.
Jean’s marker, authentic or not was moved to the museum at Puerto Aventuras on the Caribbean coast at Akumal, Quintana, Roo, Mexico.

Excerpt from the “Diario de Yucatán newspaper, 9, July, 1960; “LA TUMBA DE JEAN LAFITTE”; Translated caption; Mister Luis H. González, representative of the club of Explorers and Sports Archeologists of México, (CEDAM) informed us that they will present a plaque on the 20th of this month and dedicate it at the tomb of the pirate Jean Lafitte in the town of Dzilám de Bravo. The plaque will be dedicated by club founder and president Pablo Bush Romero, a prestigious hunter and sportsmen,  in cooperation with The Caribbean Archeological and Exploring Society, The Middle American Archeological Society and the Yucatán Exploring Society, important archeological societies of the United States.
July 20, 1960, photo of dedication of plaque. From left: unknown, Mr. Gowen, Clara Gowen, Pablo Bush Romero, Luis González, Alma Reed and unknown.  The above photo is courtesy of Luis H. González.
Luis González contributed the monument stone, which had been a González family grave marker. He engraved the back side with the Lafitte information that is now exposed. 

© 2011 John M. Grimsrud

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tulum Photos





Photos of our recent Tulum trip + our Mexican daughter, Grisel and her 3 sweet kids.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

40 Days in Tulum

We just completed 40 days in Tulum.
We left Mérida to escape the record high temperatures and smoky air contamination, and found what we were looking for.
What we like about Tulum; fresh clean air, world class swimming beaches, food that is an eating extravaganza, friendly easy going people, fun things to do, an interesting variety of side trips and big city public transportation in a small town. As my wife Jane says, "Tulum is a lovely place to visit, but a hard place to leave". We are not going home until we feel like it and we don’t feel like it!
Note; A breath of fresh air; The dry draught stricken season on the Yucatán peninsula that lasts from the end of November until the first of June is broken by the arrival of the hurricane time of year. Welcome rain replenishes water reserves, extinguishes agricultural fires, cools and cleans the air and germinates dormant seeds sending Yucatán into a glorious explosion of vibrant flowering greenery…the balance of nature is restored. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

PLAYA Del CARMEN, A SIDE TRIP FROM TULUM

Twenty-five years ago the sleepy little fishing village of Playa del Carmen had but one claim to fame. It was the ferry landing for Cozumel, 19 km. away in the Caribbean.
Today Playa has become a significant tourist destination with all varieties of accommodations ranging from five-star all inclusive to budget. A first time visitor may easily think that they are on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
By bus or colectivo taxi from Tulum, it is a forty-five minute ride on a four-lane highway with overpasses and access roads. No matter how you arrive you will arrive in the city center where all the action is.
The arch is the gateway to the Caribbean Sea where the ferry departs every hour.
Playa’s waterfront is lined with people friendly parks and tourist packed walking streets.
Warm crystal clear tropical waters and fresh clean trade winds are found here year-round. 
Seagrape trees offer heavenly shade along the beachfront parks.
Fresh locally produced papaya, mango and watermelon are sliced into juicy treats by Mayan ladies beautifully clothed in their colorfully adorned hand stitched huipil dresses.
Even off-season tourists crowd the downtown walking streets everywhere. Hawkers eagerly attempt to sell dive trips, jungle safaris, archeological excursions, Panama hats, jewelry, and more tourist impulse items than you could possibly stuff in your luggage.
Restaurants offer up all classes of food from fine dining to the neighborhood cocina economica where you can get stuffed on authentic Mexican food at bargain prices. 
Knickknacks are priced to sell and are a bargain compared to Cancun.
When you have had enough of this slice of paradise leaving town in any direction is easy. Colectivo taxis are great for short halls but the ADO bus terminal located downtown has frequent departures to all parts of Mexico and will even take you directly to the Cancun International Airport.

Playa is great but if you would like a hint of how beautiful it was twenty-five years ago, you will have to go to Tulum.
 Playa del Carmen 1961, left, Pablo Bush Romero, Luis González

Monday, May 2, 2011

STAMP COLLECTING AND HOW I BECAME A HISTORIAN



Back in the post WWII days of the 1940’s all of the neighborhood kids had some kind of collection. These were the days of shortages and rationing and frugality was how you got along back then.
When things wore out, you did without or repaired it.
Postage stamps were popular but matchbook covers were abundant and free for the picking up. Nearly everybody smoked back in those days and it was the time before you could flick your Bic…so, matchbooks were everywhere. 
The matchbooks were fun and abundant but soon I found out about the fascinating stories that were behind postage stamps.
 I became hooked on stamp collecting.
Through my own experience I found that postage stamp collecting proved to be interesting, entertaining and broadened my education. I learned the names and facts about all the presidents, historical events, fascinating information about legendary personalities and all. Some stamps commemorated and chronicled with their colorful and artistically designed depictions intriguing cultural incidents.  A new captivating world was about to open for me.
My challenge became where to find the stamps.
I remember rummaging through the storeroom of my dad’s drug store and cutting off postage stamps from all of the shipping cartons. I tore stamps from all of the discarded envelopes at his business plus I asked all of the family and friends to save their stamps for me.
Carefully I soaked the stamps free and pressed them flat and dry between the pages of the phone book.
An old Indian man that my dad took a liking to and hired as a handyman gave me a little ring notebook that he had carefully glued full of postage stamps from all over the world including many from Russia. I was thrilled at that treasure but always felt sorry for the old gentleman with his trembling hands.
His gift inspired me to dream of those distant lands and far away places where strange and interesting people lived. Some stamps had curious depictions of foreign leaders like Joe Stalin and Adolph Hitler, so my stamp collection brought the rest of the world a little closer to me.
After my initial interest was perked by that gift from the old Indian man I bought a stamp catalogue for 25¢ from H. E. Harris Co. This illustrated little publication was many things. First and foremost it documented and officially numbered each and every postage stamp ever issued by the United States government. In addition historical significance was described along with the date of printing.
The catalogue listed all the stamps for sale, new and used and offered a number of collector related items.
My first order was for a United States postage stamp map that included a few stamps for $1.00.  That map was wonderful.  Each state had a place for its own commemorative stamp. All the national parks likewise had places for mounting their appropriate stamp.  The border was for stamps of the presidents and famous Americans.
One day while riding my bicycle home I passed behind the Superior State College and I spotted, quite by accident, there in the discarded rubbish was a huge colorful world map. I had to have it. When I got it home I discovered that it was pre-WWI and the countries and borders listed were terribly out of date.  This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it made me ink in the current borders, boundaries and names of countries and states…a real geography lesson.  My next project was to mount it on pressed board and make a wooden frame for wall mounting. My frugal woodworking shop teacher, Mr. Whitney, was less than thrilled because of the amount of materials that my project required. 
The map was nearly five feet long and three feet wide and I was thrilled!
You guessed it; the map was soon filled with postage stamps from all over the world. Part of my history lesson was a very colorful stamp set that depicted the flags of the thirteen overrun countries of WWII. The British Empire took on new proportions and the colonizers of African and Asia proudly touted their worldly possessions with colorful commemoratives.
You can see that the historical importance of those stamps perked my interest to read and study even more about those intriguing places and historical events of geographical significance.
This all broadened my historical horizons and perked my curiosity.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More exotic bicycles from the 1890’s to 2011

         This photo was taken seven years before Ford produced his first automobile in 1903.
The above photo was taken in 1896 in Superior, Wisconsin, at a studio on Conner’s Point then known as West Superior. Left is Christ “C.C.” Grimsrud b.1879, my grandfather.  Next is Louis the (adopted stepson of Martin Grimsrud b.1862) and Hans Grimsrud b.1877 and the older brother of C.C. Grimsrud. Christ, Hans and Martin were all brothers born in Norway who immigrated to America before 1895.
The era was referred to as “the golden age of bicycles”. My grandfather Christ, on the left, had a Victor bicycle, the first with pneumatic tires that were glued onto lightweight wooden rims. Hundreds of firms were competing in this intense market of high demand where the typical bicycle was selling for $100.00.
The bicycle in the center is equipped with a carbide lamp, the same type used by miners.

Bicycles Today
Ootsmarsum, Netherlands attracts tourists from all across Europe and most arrive by bicycle. This is the heart of cycling along the German border where each town has its weekly market day and outdoor dining places line the quaint old time streets.
Ootmarsum, Netherlands; this bicycle shop has a steady flow of touring cyclers from all around Europe and many local accommodations are known as B & B’s, that is bed and bike hotels.

 Jane admires a 16 inch British made folding bicycle. These interesting little bikes have evolved into serious transportation vehicles because they not only go fast and are terrific in traffic, but they fold quickly to take aboard trains, airplanes and even into your hotel or office.
 Exotic? German Blitzkrieg, “lightning strike” Messerschmitt Luftwaffe flying machine with its locomotive sized air horn is engineered to make an outrageous statement.

 The German mailman goes in sun and snow and doesn’t burn a drop of fuel.

Parked on ancient cobble stones this relic of the past milk delivery bicycle has enjoyed a long life of service in rural Georgsdorf, Germany and still rolls.

 A city shopper trails a kiddy kart equipped for rain or shine on the quiet and clean streets of Nordhorn, Germany. It is hard to top this place for neat, clean and quiet.

Made in Germany, this alloy three speed folding bicycle comes complete with halogen running lights that activate automatically and run off from an internal generator. The amazing thing is that a tote bag for shipping on an airplane is included and all sells for 200€ or $260.00 U.S.D.  This is the sale price at Aldi chain stores in Europe.
Pedal powered and ecologically friendly freight hauling neatly hits the streets of Germany. This man is keeping the country clean by recycling without burning a drop of fossil fuel.

A happy biker cruises the smooth paved bicycle path along one of the many canals of Nordhorn, Germany, on the latest Dahon alloy folding bike. Folding bicycles all across Europe have recently become very popular for commuters and campers like the man above who has his camper van rig parked at the city’s municipal camping place.
This is Yucatán, Mexico where these exotic bicycles are for the young.
20 inch tricycles make a scaled down shopping cart convenient for short trips. This is Yucatan, Mexico and the price tag is in pesos and equivalent of less than $200 US.
 
This flea-market is delivered and set up using only people powered tricycles or triciclo de carga.
 
This young man in the photo above went the extra mile to dazzle with glitter and glitz.
 
Eligio Chi Perez, pictured above, begins his day before sunup by riding his bicycle seven kilometers from his home in Colonia Bojorquez to the Diario de Yucatán office in downtown Mérida to pick up the newspapers to deliver.
Each day his delivery of 175 newspapers takes him as far north as the Grand Plaza area, eight kilometers from downtown.
Still smiling seventy-one year old Eligio has faithfully made his rounds for the past fifty-two years.
Amazingly he has only worn out two bicycles in the process and not burned a single drop of gasoline.
A special congratulations to one of Yucatán’s most ecologically friendly citizens, Eligio Chi Perez.
Ready to roll home when the work day is finished this home made tricycle converted to a fruit drink bar expands into a curbside business.
 
A portable welding shop hits the streets of Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. These tricycle’s are pressed into service for everything from taxis to mini-restaurants.

 
Dr. Steven Fry is a trendsetter. CD rear reflectors, rubber chicken squeeze horn, angle-iron seat extension, rubber hose speed shifter and numerous other eccentric innovations make his bicycle  at home in Mexico.
This bike started life as a conservative Schwinn but when Carlos *Cherli” Dzidz Chí got it, he has 'mexicanized' it with reflectors, ribbons and fancy do-dads. Now it is exotic.
Biking on the streets of Yucatán; one kid to steer, one for locomotion and a passenger aft.  A device called a “diablo”, or devil is fastened to the axle shaft ends and is designed to stand on making extended passenger carrying capacity possible in the land where safety is an option.
Cross country in Yucatán on our Dahon folding bicycles - with our starting point far off in the distance of the Puuc hills, Jane and I halt on a hill top to collect our breath and hydrate.
©2011 John M. Grimsrud
For more on bicycling Yucatán, Mexico, and Europe check out our website at
www.bicycleyucatan.com

To read more about the golden age of bicycles, I recommend The Lost Cyclist by David V. Herlihy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ECOLOGICAL LIVING AT IT’S PRICELESS BEST


Twenty years ago my wife Jane and I designed and built a sanctuary home with an environmentally friendly canopy jungle garden.
The payback of living in harmony with nature is more than just economical.  Our electrical bill averages less than $100.00 pesos or $10.00 USD a month and we enjoy a salubriously lovely ambiance year round.
In winter solar heats our home and Jacuzzi water. In summer thermo siphon keeps our home cool and well water refreshes us several times a day in our Jacuzzi where we luxuriate with coffee and audio books enjoying our splendid jungle garden view.
We invite you to take a narrated tour of our eco- friendly-home and jungle garden by clicking this link;

Monday, March 14, 2011

IZAMAL, YUCATÁN, TO KANTUNIL WITH VISITS TO CUAUHTÉMOC, SUDZAL AND XANABA BY BIKE AND BUS 2011

One of the all time best one-day Yucatán get-away excursions we have found.
This is an easy and pleasurable trip if you take advantage of a tail-wind and cold front. We are down-wing sailors. (With a northerly wind start from Izamal. Contrarily with a southerly wind begin your trip from the other end at Kantunil.)
To maximize the pleasure of this adventure we recommend taking the Centro bus that departs at 6:45 AM from their terminal on Calle 65 two blocks east of the main market, adjacent to and east of the Casa de Pueblo.
There are faster ways to get to Izamal but this quiet back road route, though slow, is a pleasant look at Yucatán that most tourist miss.
Our bus route took us east first to Tixkokob, famous for hammock makers, while the early morning shoppers were still packing the quaint colonial streets.
Being a local bus we were steadily acquiring more and more passengers heading to the remote villages that lay ahead. As we passed our next town of Cacalchén the road narrowed perceptibly and each of the upcoming towns in turn grew smaller and smaller heading to Bokobá.  Tekantó, Tixcochó, Teya,  and Tepekán, were all typical quiet quaint Mayan villages where many of the homes were palapa thatched huts commingled with the remnants of colonial era haciendas.  At rural Tepekán we made our final turn and headed into Izamal on a road as straight as a die and we knew that this roadway had to be a remnant of an ancient Maya sacbe road built countless centuries before.


As tourist end destinations go Izamal is one of Yucatán’s finest and well worth a day or two of your time to explore and get to know.      READ MORE
©2011 John M. Grimsrud

Click on map to enlarge.

Friday, February 25, 2011

DR. SIMI'S MEDICAL CLINIC IN MÉRIDA - 2011


A new concept in medical treatment has come to Mérida, Yucatán. They started as just a discount pharmacy featuring house branded medicines at rock bottom prices and have evolved into an efficient friendly and complete health center.  This business is found in Mexico and through Central America.

With no glitter and glitz the Dr. Simi professional clinical staff cheerfully expedites the client’s needs at the door.

Knowledgeable and competent employees rapidly process incoming clients.
Blood work and other screening is specifically targeted to the patients needs with no pressure to do unneeded testing.
Bone density, electrocardiograms and ultrasound scans are but a few of the services rendered here. 
A medical exam is $35.00.   You can have a simple blood test, your blood pressure tested or even your ears cleaned. You only pay for what you need.
The procedures offered are extensive and the service faster than anywhere we have ever seen.


No hidden charges. The price for your medical exam is 35 pecos or about $3.00 US dollars.

Here is Jane a happy customer of the Dr. Simi Clinic with their promotional clown.
Jane was very satisfied with the all her analyses and the doctor’s professional exam.
This clinic is located in Mérida’s center on the corner of calle 54 y 65.
You will however need to speak Spanish.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 OLD YEAR EFFIGY BURNING / 2011 DANZA de la CABEZA de COCHINO AND PRE-PARTY IN MÉRIDA, YUCATÁN, MEXICO

A Mérida tradition that goes far back in time, perhaps, predating the conquistadors. In the neighborhood of Emiliano Zapata Norte nearly ever street corner torches an effigy similar to the one you see above that is cram- packed with pyrotechnics and then doused with gasoline to insure a spectacular ear splitting spectacle.   Related link: Video of burning the man of the old year

New Year’s Day the traditional Mayan celebration begins early with roast pig and tacos known as cochinita and festive dancing followed by a parade through the neighborhood. This is a family event that consistently brings the ancient customs of the Maya to the present day.
Live music with a tinny bouncing beat makes the rhythm march to a cadence perfect for the jarana, traditionally danced here in Yucatán where the beautiful ladies are colorfully adorned and the gentlemen wear a simple white as snow garb.
Three generations of Mayan tradition lives on here and is alive and well.
These are the long-established time honored customs carries on to this day with pride and pleasure.

Related links:
Video of Danza de la Cabeza de Cochino 
Blog with more photos of same group in 2008

Saturday, January 22, 2011

BICYCLE IMPOUND IN MÉRIDA 2011


So, how does your bicycle wind up here?
If you leave your bike unlocked in a public place it is fair game for confiscation. Even locked your bike can meet this fate if blocking a sidewalk, impeding a public access or locked to a park bench. The police carry bolt cutters and are quick to pitch your property in their truck and be gone.  

More than 350 confiscated bicycles have piled up in the cities impound yet unclaimed.

The manager in charge Miguel and I, John Grimsrud confer about the status of the bicycles, tri-cycles and assorted hand carts that have been accumulating and as yet not claimed.
Miguel states that in order to reclaim your bicycle you must present the original factura or bill of sale along with positive personal identification.
Miguel was very accommodating and friendly.
There is a charge for reclaiming your bicycle and you might even be obligated to pay a multa or fine depending upon the circumstances of the confiscation.

At the entrance to the impound yard Jane and Miguel.

Located in the city center on the corner of Calle 48 and 57 this unimposing municipal building is the office for the impound yard where motor vehicles are also stored.