I have been away from Snow Lake for the past week and unable to cover local news … that’s the bad news. The good news is that I was able to escape the biting cold and endless snow for the warmer climes of Mexico! My youngest daughter was married in Puerto Aventuras last week and, in addition to that pride-evoking event, we were able to take in some rest, relaxation, and unfortunately, way too much food.
This was the first time I’ve been to anywhere in Mexico other than the small border town of Algodones … near Yuma, Arizona. I gotta say that excluding the heat, the Yucatan is an entirely different experience. Where Algodones is dry and desolate, the Yucatan is lush and humid.
My daughter Jessica, who lives in Edmonton and is an on-air personality and music director for The Bear 100.3, married her partner of several years, Dan Holman. The event took place at our resort, the Dreams Adventuras. It was a beautiful warm day and the ceremony was held in a large well-appointed open area near the beach. Our son Joel performed the nuptials and witnessing that as well as the honour of walking my baby girl down the aisle was just about too much for this oldtimer’s tear ducts.
Following the ceremony, we moved to another area of the beach for cocktails, supper and a dance. It was a great day that capped a wonderful week.
While there I also got to do something that I have been envisaging for years … climb a Mayan ruin! Heading down for the wedding, my thoughts were on visiting Chichén Itzá; however, when looking at tours, the name Ek Balam came up and it reminded me of my conversation with Jesse Morozoff whom I featured in a column several weeks back. He recommended this ruin, as it was older and less commercialized than Chichén Itzá. So seven of us booked: friends Cathy and Ted Stabback, sister and brother-in-law Janet and Claude East, my son Joel, and me.
We headed out early on the morning of Feb. 13 for the 100 kilometre-plus bus journey to the ruin. Our tour guide was an amiable gent named Edwardo, or Eddy as he asked us to call him. Prior to arriving at the ruin we would also take in a ceremony with a Mayan shaman, a traditional Mayan lunch, and Cenote Maya Park. The ceremony was interesting (however, unlike those that Morozoff took part in, there were no hallucinogens), the lunch was delicious, and, for those who are wondering what a cenote is, it is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock, which in turn exposes groundwater underneath. Most of our group took in the cenote, but two of us who are non-swimmers, begged off. Those who did stated it was a blast … first repelling down into the clear waters of the cavern, then diving, ziplining and slack-lining over and into them.
Following this we were back on the bus for the short journey to Ek Balam. These ruins are some of the oldest unearthed in Mexico and date back to 100 BC (approximately 800 years older than Chichén Itzá). The site was rediscovered in the late 1800s, but extensive excavation did not take place until the 1990s. Our guide explained that the Yucatan is flat terrain and those exploring for ruins basically begin digging at any spot that is elevated on the peninsula. The digs normally unearth ruins. There are some 14 known sites and Edwardo explained their inhabitation by contrasting it with Game of Thrones. Each site was a kingdom … there were alliances with some and wars with others. He also gave an interesting overview of life, death, education, and beliefs within the Mayan society.
During our excursion, I couldn’t help but notice the poverty of the area and the squalor in many of the Mayan villages. Municipal services seem almost nonexistent, so garbage in many cases is piled along roadsides and later burned. Speaking with Edwardo about this, he advised that the tourism that is slowly coming to the area will gradually change these conditions. His company – Alltournative – recognizes a corporate social responsibility for “Linkage with the Community” and has made contributions to promote sport in Mayan communities, arranged for transportation of school children in the immediate area and helped with the sterilization and vaccination of dogs in rural villages. Nevertheless, the trip was one that many memories will be based on and even a short break from the cold was welcome indeed.
In other news, Snow Lake curling clubroom manager Jill Arpin advises that the annual men’s bonspiel, which took place last weekend, was small, but mighty. As well, she noted that first event honours went to Snow Lake’s Peterson team, while the second event also boasted a local winner, with the Hornyak foursome emerging victorious. The third event was won by the Reeves rink from The Pas. Additionally, the draw for two tickets to a Jets versus Flames game in March, with $1,000 spending money, was won by Snow Lake’s Steve Hamilton.