On our many return trips over the years we have gradually discovered the numerous fascinating treasures that Ticul and its friendly people have to offer.
Ticul, 82 kilometers south of Mérida or about 50 miles is known as; “The Pearl of the South”. Besides a number of strange and interesting things in the city, Ticul also has its unique geographical position adjacent to the remarkable monuments of the past depicted in the above oil painting.
From left to right across the top of the painting; The Puuc Route (Puuc is the name given to the hills in the region) with five distinct Mayan temple sites and also the Grutas de Loltún, “caves of Loltún”; next is Ticul’s pink marble Mayan style arch built by the notable stone carver Rómulo Rozo who also built Mérida’s Monumento a la Patria on the prestigious Paseo de Montejo boulevard; next is one of the most impressive Mayan temples ever built, Uxmal.
Depicted across the center of the painting are; Ticul’s main church started in 1591 that took nearly fifty years to complete, in the center are the town craft people, the shoe maker and potter, on the right is one of the many area Mayan temples.
Across the bottom is the huge hacienda of Tabí, one of the most prestigious of Yucatán and it is flanked by typical Mayan clay figures of the pre-Columbian era.
On the north side of Ticul at the city entrance is Arte Maya with probably the best quality Mayan reproductions to be found anywhere. The showroom there is well worth the stop; it is simply extraordinary.
Arte Maya began here back in 1974 and has produced reproductions of indigenous sculptures of such high quality they are used in the nations leading museums.
The same family has continuously produced the very best class of workmanship here with the ultimate in attention to detail. Above is the entry to the showroom.
Naturally talented Lourdes Gonzalez is a big part of this family operation at Arte Maya and proudly continues reproducing the very finest in Mayan art.
Down the street from Arte Maya is the shop of Señor Mena where bigger than life statuary is sculpted that ultimately finds its way to the local street corners around Ticul. Fifteen years of dedicated work by Señor Mena has made Ticul a photo-op attraction not to be missed.
This night time exposure photo is taken from the plaza looking at the 1591 church.
Art is everywhere in Ticul. Dance rehearsal in the decoratively painted plaza band-shell tells a lot about the city pride of this very clean and prosperous city.
Perched atop a prominent hill overlooking Ticul is this distinctive Mayan style arch that was constructed by the internationally famous sculptor Rómulo Rozo back in the 1950’s
The president of Mexico even arrived for the dedication
Carved into a corner stone of the Ticul Mayan arch is the name of the stone carver, Rómulo Rozo, who left his distinctive creations all across Mexico.
The distinctive pink stone of this arch and the “Monumento de la Patria” (Monument to the history of Mexico) on the prestigious Paseo de Montejo Boulevard in Mérida came from a quarry on an adjacent hilltop on the road south to Santa Elena. The stone for the monument was transported to Mérida on the old narrow gauge railway train.
The Ticul Mayan arch is so famous it is plagiarized in wall painted advertisements.
A view looking away from the Ticul Mayan arch and into the rolling hills of the Puuc region will give you some idea of the narrow back roads and isolated open spaces of this semi-arid tropical forest region of northwestern Yucatán.
At age seventy-five Arturo Gutierrez actively works in his shoe manufacturing business and even made a splendid repair of Jane’s shoes while we waited. The remarkable thing about Arturo is that he as a little boy recalled Rómulo Rozo the famous stone sculptor, how he dressed and his stone cutting shop where he trained area men into the sculpting trade. Most amazing of all is the fact that the stone cutting shop of Rómulo Rozo was in this very same building.
This is the shoe manufacturing shop of Arturo Gutierrez where Rómulo Rozo previously did his stone cutting. The bicycles belong to the employees of the shoe shop.
One of Rómulo Rozo’s most widely plagiarized works of art is this little figure that they refer to here as “Pancho”. The sculptor originally named it El Pensamiento or “The Thinker”.
Above: El Pensamiento photo from WikipediaThe variety of paint jobs and size of “Pancho” seen endless…all the shops sell them.
Sculpture by Rómulo Rozo displayed in the Museum of Art in La Paz, Bolivia.This is the image that was plagiarized after it was shown in an exhibition in the National Library in Mexico City in 1932.When it was on exhibition, somebody placed a bottle of tequila in front of it, took a photo and it was widely circulated in newspapers around the world as the drunken or sleeping Mexican…an image still thought of today.
This Mayan lady with her white as snow clothes asks for help for food. We have found that in the Mayan villages when we take a break for a rest stop, the generous people are always offering us food. They will rarely take money for the food.
Mayan food is mostly vegetation, nutritious and delicious like these salbutes.
We had lunch at a “cocina economica” (Economy kitchen) – the pork was delicious and the price was right!
Considering that this Ticul church was begun back in 1591 and took nearly fifty years to complete, it has been kept in remarkably good repair.
The old church is spotless like the rest of Ticul.
Moorish style arches and architecture were brought to the New World by the Spanish.
Ticul sets a high standard for cleanliness and preservation.
We next made a side trip west to Muna, a small market town dating from the 1600’s that was a cross-road with straight Mayan sacbe roads leading off in four directions. The elevated stone work of these Mayan roads is still plainly visible in and around Muna.
This colonial hand carved pulpit pictured above has miraculously survived the centuries.
The Muna market is traditionally Mayan and this lady is the local medicine vender with a herbal cure for nearly all ailments.
A view from a municipal building in the central plaza contrasting the old and the new.
Our next bicycle trip took us east on a lovely and quiet road to the small town of Dzan.
Winter time in the Yucatán countryside is ablaze with vibrant wild flowers that supports a huge honey industry.
Bicycling on the quiet road to Dzan is literally like taking a breath of fresh air richly scented and perfumed by flower blossoms.
With an overcast sky the multitudes of wild flowers seemed to be ablaze with dazzling luminescence.
We arrived in Dzan in time to see a very noisy pageant leave the church with sky rockets exploding as they went.
Down the road at Maní we stopped at one of seven chapels there and across the street was a tortilla shop or molino that lured us with its inviting roasted corn aroma. We had our morning coffee and sprinkled salt on the hot tortillas.
Sitting on the altar of the little chapel is this neatly decorated work of art of unknown age.
The chapel was impeccably clean and well maintained like the rest of the area. We had no competition for seats and the shelter came just in time because a cold rainy drizzle settled in.
No gold or rich adornments are found here but the Mayan people are the treasure.
At the chapel corner in Maní we left the pavement to visit this new development. Under the roof are wood logs that house the hives of small black stinger-less Mayan bees that produce a much prized honey.
Padre Luis is making a Mayan style village that is soon to be finished.
The 1547 church in Maní is getting a major make over of paint and plaster and does not look its age any longer.
The rain persisted. A truck came along and offered us a ride to Oxkutzcab and we happily loaded our bikes and climbed aboard. It was still raining in Oxkutzcab so we folded out bikes and caught the next bus to Merida. Two two hours later we were home in Mérida in our warm dry house. …the pleasure of biking and busing in Yucatán…it is great!
John M. Grimsrud ©2010
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