Our Parched Peninsula

Slow going on narrow roads

There is just no way around it. Anyone traveling to Chiapas from Merida must first get off our parched peninsula. The fat thumb of heat-stroked land jutting into Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea is large… approximately 182,000 sq. kilometres or 70,000 square miles. And it is diverse… tropical lowland jungle, arid scrub, saltwater coastline and wetlands. The members of MEL’s Women’s Tour to Chiapas took 10 hours (with several stops along the way) to drive the 560 kilometres from Merida to Villahermosa.

We were ecstatic to reach the Hotel Viva, a comfortable and welcoming property on the outskirts of Villahermosa. We had planned to have “Happy Hour” in Marion & Lori’s room (a glass or two of wine and some snacks) and we also wanted to sort the donations for the Children’s Day Center in San Cristobal de las Casas.

But when we saw the rooms and remembered how many suitcases of clothes, school supplies, toys, balls, and so forth that we had wedged into the luggage compartment, we realized we were just too much for that room! With more confidence than I felt, I announced:

“Sergio will find us a place where we can get together.”

In all the years we’ve worked together, Sergio Solis has never let me down. And this was no exception. He found us a covered outdoor patio with tables and chairs, and lots of space to sort our donations and get them into boxes and extra suitcases. Marion Bale and Lori Simek got busy laying out the “buffet” they brought from Merida. Lots of comments on the delicious food and not-bad-for-the-price wine. With so many pitching-in, everything was soon packed away.


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I told Lori and Marion that their tireless efforts to organize this community service component of the tour had paid off in spades. They made special colour-coded luggage tags, compiled the spread sheet of names and necessary info. Lori came up with the initial concept of incorporating origami cranes and bought the book that explained the intricate paper folding… en español. Another book she bought told the story of “Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes.”  I knew the children would be thrilled.

The three of us watched the bellboys ferry half the 14 bundles of donations to my room, and the other half into Edith’s, and I asked my exhausted helpers if they felt happy. “Definitely,” said Marion in her New Zealand accent, “But I wish the ladies had not found Lori’s personal bottle of Bubbly. I could use it about now” “An innocent mistake,” quipped Lori, “And I’m so tired, it would have been wasted on me.” Big yawns all ‘round, and we toddled off to bed.

The majority of the group slept well, and after a hearty breakfast that included the hotel’s famous fried plantains, we filed back on the bus… eager for the day’s adventure… driving through the Sierra Madre Mountains.


Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

4 thoughts on “Our Parched Peninsula

  1. I can just imagine what the patio looked like as you were sorting! Well done, everyone.
    I remember the roads well – 299 topes between Palenque and St Cristobal, and the one we returned on last time when Charlie and I misread the sign and we forged on in the yellow truck. Mountainous scenery with green, green cattle ranches in the valleys was inspiring, the road was ‘different’, but at least it didn’t have many topes. I have been to Chiapas twice and would certainly go again.


    1. Well maybe I can take you next time… I remember you showing the weavers in Zinacantan how to use the continuous knitting needle that you like so much, A similar scene was played out with the ladies on this tour showing the children how to make oragami cranes. Standard language isn’t necessary when showing how to fashion crafts… it is a language all it’s own.


  2. I LOVE fence posts that sprout.

    Wow, what hard work. (You all made it clear though it was a labor of love.)

    And how good you feel when it is done.

    I am giving each and every one involved a belated hug whether you want it or not. Thanks for taking us on the journey with you, Joanna and Co. 🙂


    1. Taking groups to my favourite places in Mexico is not hard work… and visiting places like La Casa de las Flores is a joy. For me, the definition of “hard” is doing something I dislike doing… When I am doing what I love, even though it may take a long time, I feel happy and fufilled… not a hard state to be in… tired is a good feeling when it comes from positive activity.


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