International Womens’ Club of Merida… Our 35th Anniversary

A Bevy of IWC Beauties

This coming week will be a memorable one because the IWC is celebrating its 35th Anniversary. I can still remember the first meeting so clearly. There were 22 women present; and for many, of us, this was the first time we realised that quite a few English-speaking women were living in Yucatan.

Some of those present were born in Merida, but they had studied or lived abroad and welcomed the opportunity to spend time with other like-minded women. Others came to live here from other countries, and for some of them, the club was literally a lifeline. I think all of us feel that cultural diversity is enriching, but for most, adaptation has been wrought with difficult periods. And the IWC has helped many of us get us through them.

 

Visiting Coba

Vilma Moray, a beloved member for many years used to say, “The IWC is like a buffet… you’ll love some of the offerings, but not all of them… so you take what you want to and leave the rest.” For me, that assessment is so true; I have made some of my closest friendships at the monthly meetings of the IWC. Now there are many places where the international community gathers… there are facebook groups, and… and… and… But back in 1984, the IWC was unique; and in many ways, it still is.

Friends always… Vilma, Joanna, Loretta, Rose and Juanita…

If you visit https://iwcmerida.com/  you’ll NOT be able to read about all the IWC activities our stellar board has planned for this week… so scroll down here for more details

Lenny one of the IWC scholarship recipients received her Law degree from UADY

  • A special get-together to celebrate the accomplishments of our scholarship recipients will be held on Friday November 15th at Chloe Pacheco’s home. If you can, please bring a savoury or sweet treat to share… Send me, or another member a message, and we’ll get back to you
  • And on Sunday the 17th, we’ll all enjoy a festive “White Dinner” at a local club.

(An RSVP will be appreciated if you plan on attending either of these events … further details are available in the BB, or from an IW member)

  • Art History lovers will be happy to see, that one of our members, Estela Keim will present: “Transformations of the Mona Lisa: From Middleclass Housewife to International Icon” on Saturday afternoon from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at the NH Hotel / Paseo 60.

Other activities are:

  • Hi Tea at Becky Gebser’s on Tuesday November 12th … you can find the address and directions to her house in this week’s BB. Please bring a sweet or savoury treat to share.

Menly… such a great sport always…

 

IWC Fridas

And following Estela’s talk on Saturday:

  • From 6:30 – 8;30 pm, the Restaurant “Cartas a Frida” on Calle 55 between 60 and 58 will have tables available for more catching up, to enjoy a drink or a snack, or just to listen to the favourite tunes we’ve recorded (in English and in Spanish) There is no minimum charge at the “Cartas a Frida” open house; whatever you order is what you’ll be charged for. Long time members will be excited to know that two former IWC presidents will be on hand… Loretta Miller and Dalila Leon … as well as a few more, I’m sure.

If you are a former IWC member, a present one, or think you might like to become a member, you are so welcome to join us. Get in touch with me, other members or a board officer.

Dalia and Joanna… Socias por siempre

 

Thirty-five years is a fair bit of time; hopefully over the next 35 years

Loretta and Joanna… love to cook

IWC members will continue to positively impact our community, form many wonderful friendships, continue to learn from one another and make as many memories as we have done the past  35.

I hope to see you this week! Meanwhile … here are some more photos…

 

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Maybe we need to think again?

Jorge and me in Gisele’s studio, 2007

Like most children growing up in Canada during the 1950s and 60s, I knew a lot about WWII history; it hadn’t been long since “the war” ended, and many families had lost uncles and fathers. As teenagers we became aware that war, disease and famine made life hell-on-earth in many parts of the world; in Vietnam and other south-east Asian countries, in much of Africa and on the Indian continent. But most of the time, we felt secure and safe from armed conflict; in Canada we had no compulsory military service, no draft. We had inner controversies that had not yet come fully into the light, but our country was not at war with any other.

I lived and worked in Peru during the early 1970s, and there, I could not deny the poverty and need I saw all around me. When I moved to Merida, I knew guerrilla combat raged in Guatemala and other Central American countries, not so far away from us. Yet, despite this exposure and peripheral experience, I never suffered hardship, and I suppose this is why I did not fully recognise the “red lights” – the clear signs – that significant changes were taking place in the world.

For my 50th birthday in 2003, my sister and I traveled to the Netherlands, and there I met my 90 year old Aunt Gisele. An accomplished artist herself, she told stories about Paris during the period when she – and Picasso, Utrillo and Matisse – were living there. She actually showed me a photo of herself and “Henri.” Everything about her was sprite-like. Even her walk. She didn’t shuffle along like most older women, she tip-toed like a ballet dancer. However, her eyes turned from forget-me-not blue to brooding navy once she started sharing her stories about the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII. In the living room of her XVII century home she made me understand the magnitude of Hitler’s iron-hand control over Europe. She told me about the group of Jewish friends she protected throughout the occupation of her city. She showed me where she built false walls, and opened a cavity in a player piano – so they could hide during raids – she told me about what she endured to feed them. And she told me about meeting my father.

In 1939, when he enlisted in the Canadian armed forces, he was underage; just 19 years old, but the Canadian army recruiter did not ask many questions. When Dad was deployed, his Dutch-born father gave him the contacts for his relatives still living there. He hung on to those addresses during his six years of combat. He was not quite 25 years old when he visited Gisele after the liberation of Amsterdam; I’d heard Dad’s version of the story.

“My buddy and I ‘liberated’ supplies from our unit’s kitchen; what else could we do? No one in her apartment weighed more than 80 pounds; they were starving and had nothing at all to eat.” She claimed that the food and other staples he brought saved her life and the lives of everyone in her household. Aunt Gisele’s stories deeply moved me; in fact her example inspired me to write a family memoir, CIRCLES, which was published in 2015, and presented here, in Merida on Remembrance Day of that year. I wanted the future generations of my family to know about her. In truth, her wartime role was immortalized in 2014 by a best-selling Dutch novelist; and another well-known author has researched and published an extensive biography telling about her accomplishments, as well as her foibles. Several catalogues of her art are in print – my slim volume is by no means the definitive book written about her – but CIRCLES is special to me.

Researching and writing about my aunt forced me to look deeper than what lies on the surace. One day I asked Gisele how it had been possible for the Nazis to amass so much power. I could not understand how they managed to spread such evil across much of the world. “It was easy for them,” she said. “They preyed on people’s fear. And “good” people looked away. They didn’t want to get involved; they declined to speak against Hitler because they worried his goons would come after them, which of course did eventually happen.”

I am writing about this today because recently, several people have told me they are tired of talking about the state of our world; they don’t want to read about it or see it on the news. “I have no say; so I am better off to stay away from it all,” said one of them. And to be honest, I agree that the news these days is overwhelming.

But I applaud my friends on Facebook (John, Sean, Patricia and others) who say what they feel about the very worrying state of worldwide politics and policies. And in some of the blogs I follow, people like Richard share their research into controversial issues. “Beating a dead horse,” is the horrible cliché that one person used to describe the actions of those who speak out. I know it is frightening to look closely at what is going on. It seems like a stretch to imagine that history could be repeating itself to this degree. But think about the rise of intolerance, xenophobia, thugs in the streets, and no-holds-barred materialism – many of the same “signs”, present in pre-war Germany, are flashing bright-red warnings now – and we do have our own 21st Century  bully, don’t we?

Remembrance Day is on November 11th, and I for one will take time to give thanks for the many freedoms I could easily lose. My friends who tell it like they see it don’t like standing up on a soap box – no one does – but they do so often and with determination. Some say only alarmists think a worldwide conflict could ever happen again. Maybe we need to think again?Shouldn’t each of us try to be aware of what the ill-intentioned voices are saying, and resist complacency?

It’s Time to Travel said my Heart… Definitely, said my Soul

The countdown has begun… Are you ready?

We’ll be boarding the bus in exactly four months’ time…

 

Southern Campeche & Quintana Roo Adventure

Thursday February 20th – Tuesday February 25th, 2020

We took this trip a few years ago. The thrill of seeing these Maya sites deep in the forest, without all the tourist trappings, and swimming in gorgeous blue Lake Bacalar are among our best travel memories.– Edith Wilson, Washington, DC

“A visit to Calakmul and Kohunlich was on the top of my bucket list for years; I went there two years ago, and I know I have to go again!” – Suzanne Lewis, Mexico City, CDMX

The roadless travelled in Edzna

DAY ONE, Thursday February 20: 7:30 am

This morning, we’ll board our chartered bus and drive from Merida to EDZNA, Campeche’s great city of the Itzaes. At this site there are more than twenty monumental buildings and an ingenious canal system that allowed for extensive farming. Many different birds can be seen, especially hawks. After our visit we’ll continue on to the city of CAMPECHE, the capital of the state, and check into the Hotel Baluartes for one night. The hotel is close to the colonial city center and the seaside boardwalk; where you’ll find many restaurants, pubs, shops.

A “Monster-of-the-Earth” facade at Chicanna

DAY TWO, Friday February 21: 9:00 am

Today our bus we’ll travel deeper into the Campeche countryside. Our destination is the Chicanna Eco-lodge, where we’ll stay for two nights. Along the way, we’ll visit four archaeological sites: BALAMKU, famous for its spectacular high relief stucco works; majestic BECAN, known for its fortified city walls, a moat and stunning stuccoes; XPUJIL, great for seeing birds; and finally, CHICANNA, with its Rio Bec style “monster of the earth” facades. At the end of the day, we’ll settle into our comfortable cabañas, perhaps have a drink before dinner, and then call it a night; we need to be up early the next day.

 

Spider monkey at Calakmul

DAY THREE, Saturday February 22: Before sunrise

Yes, we’ll be on the road before sunrise and will travel directly to CALAKMUL. This site is one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the Maya world, and the early start will maximize our chances of spotting interesting birds such as toucans, toucanettes and wild turkeys; as well as mammals like tapirs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, ocelots. If we are VERY LUCKY, maybe even a jaguar. In Calakmul, 6,750 ancient structures have been identified; the largest of which is the Great Pyramid. Called, Structure 2, it is more than 45 metres (148 ft) high, making it one of the tallest of the Maya pyramids. If you miss climbing pyramids in Yucatan, you’ll be happy to know you can do so in Calakmul.

Stucco masks at Kohunlich

DAY FOUR, Sunday February 23: 9:00 am

We’ll leave the eco-village after breakfast, and on the way to Bacalar, we will visit KOHUNLICH, a beautiful Maya city set amongst exotic palms. Larger-than-lifesize stucco masks adorning the balustrades are indeed impressive. Following our time in Kohunlich, we’ll see DZIBANCHE and KINICHNA. It is likely that we’ll encounter some interesting birds and animals as these two archaeological sites receive few visitors. Arriving in BACALAR, we’ll check into our accommodation and have the rest of the afternoon and evening to rest and explore the town. There are good restaurants in town and along the shore of the lagoon.

Bacalar

DAY FIVE, Monday February 24: Sleep in…

You can sleep in this morning because we’ll be spending the entire day in Bacalar, relaxing and enjoying the location. We’ll take a boat ride on the lagoon and those who want to could have lunch and a swim at the CENOTE AZUL, a very large surface cenote. The rest of the afternoon will be leisure time to enjoy the area at your own pace.

DAY SIX: Tuesday February 25: 11 am, bags ready to load

We’ll check out of our hotel at approximately noon, giving us time to have a morning swim and full breakfast before we travel to Merida, arriving back at Mejorada Plaza about 6:00pm. 

The tour includes: 

  • 5 nights of accommodation at tourism class hotels

  • 5 full hotel breakfasts

  • Transportation by private coach with a professional driver

  • 2 bilingual tour escorts, 1 bilingual guide

  • Entrance fees at all sites included in the itinerary

Not included:

  • No meals except breakfast are included. As well, it should be mentioned that many of the locations we’ll visit are remote, and our choices will be limited to simple regional fare. However, in Campeche and Bacalar we’ll find some interesting restaurants. At the pre-departure get-together in January, we’ll advise group participants what they should bring in terms of food and drink.

  • Personal services such as laundry, hotel phone calls, room service, and tips are not included.

Important:

The service providers carry standard accident insurance, but it is the responsibility of tour participants to have their own policy for emergency hospital-medical coverage that is valid in Mexico.

Prices:

Single Room: 16,500 pesos (including tax)

Sharing Double P/Person: 12,500 pesos (including tax)

Payments:

50% at time of booking

Balance by December 15, 2019

Refunds:

If cancellation is made before December 15, 2019, a full refund less 1,000 pesos (p/pers) will be made. December 15, 2019 – January 31, 2020 a 50% refund will be given. After February 1, 2020, it will not be possible to refund any payments.

For more information:

Please phone or whatsapp Carlos Rosado at:

52 999 457-7713

Or send an email:

carlos.rosado@yucatandiscovery.com