The festival is a fund raiser for many local non-profits that support education and arts for youth. Hundreds of young people were on hand volunteering many hours for their organizations. Volunteerism is huge in this town. "Mr. Garlic" was jovial in his new costume (the old one had worn out) as he mingled with the crowds. The grounds were jam-packed with vendor tents, food and drink booths, entertainment stage and covered lawn, amusement rides, "Garlic University" arts & crafts area for the kids, and "Garlic Chef Stadium," where all-day cooking competitions and demonstrations were held. New this year was a garlic kissing booth.
One of the activities I had planned to do a lot of while in Mexico was to take cooking classes and learn more about different traditions of Mexican gastronomy. Although I didn't travel as far and wide as I had hoped, I did get around quite a bit. Most of my stay was based in the Yucatan peninsula, including the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and a couple of days in Campeche.
I spent two months in Merida with numerous day trips, a week in Mexico City, including side trips to Taxco, Guanajuato, Delores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende, and Queretaro, and a week in the city of Oaxaca, which I loved. For my last two weeks I jouneyed down the glorious Caribbean coast between Cancun and Tulum.
I visited this new museum - el EcoMuseo del Cacao - with two friends one Sunday afternoon. Approximately two hours south of Merida, the museum is located in an area of Yucatan among a number of recovered Mayan ruins. After many stops along the way, for sightseeing, shopping, and ...
My big adventure last week was taking the bus to the city of Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico. It's the capital of the state of the same name. The trip took almost three hours because of highway construction most of the way, but the first-class bus was comfortable. I had only two short days there but was able to see a lot of the historic center.
I'm astounded by the number, variety, and quality of cultural events going on in this city. In January every year, the city celebrates its founding with a Festival de la Ciudad that lasts the entire month. This year's 470th birthday celebration included more than 200 events, with 3 to 6 of them every day, most of which are free. Over 1,000 local and visiting artists participated. The quality of the performances and exhibits has been excellent. The Yucatan Symphony Orchestra began its season last week as part of the festival. I went to the second performance today with some friends, one of whom is a music teacher. We all agreed it was outstanding. The cost? Less than $8.00 USD.
After a long time thinking about starting a blog, I've actually created it! I hope it will be useful to you and you'll contribute your comments, ideas, and requests.
It's January 2012, and I'm spending the first 3 months of the year in Mexico. I said goodbye to winters in New England and plan to spend them in the tropics -- or other warm climates -- from now on. I've become a "snowbird." If you're one, too, please share your tips! If you have a favorite warm place to go in winter, I'd love to hear about it.