Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sotuta de Peón

Yesterday was a mostly fabulous day.  Got up at about 6:30 AM to shower, eat, and get ready for our trip to Sotuta de Peón.  I believe the bus came at about 7:30 AM to pick us up.  (I didn't really pay attention to the time yesterday).  As always, we went around to the different houses, picked everyone up (Claiire's house brought us doughnuts again!) and headed out.  I believe it was an hour and a half bus ride.  I slept for most of it.  And when I wasn't sleeping, I was reading my book, "Woman in White."  (Good book by the way).

I think about 9 o'clock we arrived?  Then we ended up waiting around a good long while for the tour guide to show.  But it was well worth the wait because our tour guide was amazing!  The tour was given in English and Spanish.  (There was a couple there that only spoke English).  I may or may not have listened in to the English translation... :)  I have lots of pictures (and videos!) from our tour of Sotuta de Peón (the henequen plantation).

First we toured the main house of the plantation:

Dining Room (one of them.  I think they were dining rooms from different eras)

View from the front balcony.

Another dining room.

Kitchen Stove.  But it was just for show.  Even back in the day they never built a chimney so that they could use it.  They just had the servants cook the food outside and bring it in.  Which makes sense, with how hot it is down here, I wouldn't want to lite a huge fire in a tiny kitchen.


Cupboard storage.

View of the whole kitchen.

Beautiful staircase.  Sadly we never got to go up it.
After viewing the main floor, we ended up going to the storage/cellar area (the downstairs).  It actually was not underground because the ground here is too hard to dig in (way too rocky).  So they just built the cellar above ground, but on the bottom level of the house.

Don't look now, but that's a Tarantula! 

Cellar Area

The Mayan Nike.  The string it's tied on with is made from henequen.
After the cellar, we learned how the Henequen was made!

Right before they twist it to make rope, they do this little pull thingy.

In his hand is a leaf of henequen.

You know it's a good tour when they bring you out drinks.

This is the contraption they use to wind the henequen and make it into rope.

These are the different sizes they make.  So, you make a small rope, then combine that with another.   Then combine that rope with a similar sized one, etc.  

After that, we got to watch how they made henequen bales for easy transportation throughout the site.

Here's a picture of the finished product:

Following this, we got to see how henequen was processed from the green leaf to the stringy white stuff you see here (by the way, I should mention, this stuff has the texture of horse hair.  It's very coarse).  It was so loud, I didn't even try to talk while filming the process.

Here are some still pictures of the machinery.

Here is where the Henequen dries out (you may not have seen it in the video, but it was pooling water at the end of the process.  That stuff was sopping).
Train tracks.  For transportation.  What kind of transportation you will find out in a few moments.
Carts they took the henequen on.
No idea what this is, but it looked important.
Where the Henequen water drained to.  It.  Smelled.  AWFUL.
Of course, now they use electricty to run everything.  But back in the day, they used fire power and this engine.

This is the next part of the process.  How it's made into rope (with technology.  The fast way!).

First step here.  (Sorry, I didn't catch what the first step was.  It took me a while to realize that  this was a process, not just different ways of packaging the Henequen).

 Lots of videos here (and not any pictures).  Don't worry, they're short.  And they go through the last steps of the process.

First, it's put into barrels.

Then it goes from the barrel onto spools.

Then it goes from those spools onto even bigger spools!  (which, I think that's only if they want to sell spools of it...?  I'm not quite sure).

Then it gets made into rope!

Here are some still photos of the machinery.

Building where all the machinery was.
 After looking at that, we then got to ride on the train.  Which are carts pulled by a mule!  Here's a picture of the cart (I was sitting at the very end).  It's funny because I didn't realize, at first, that we were going on two carts.  I thought the four carts were all together.  So when I saw the first two carts getting pulled away, I was like, "Wait!  Come back!!"  But then the driver came up with another mule and I was like, "ooooooh."  *ahem*

Of course, I had to take some pictures during the ride.  Which is what these are.

We got stopped after about five minutes on the train (which is when I took these next pictures).

I then realized that we were heading up to a little house to listen to a very cute old man explain the work he'd done here.  So, long story short, Sotuta de Peón died a while back ago when the owner decided to shut it down (I didn't catch why he decided to do that).  After that decision, another man came along with the desire to make Sotuta de Peón come alive again.  When he did, he asked this old mayan man (whom I am sure was a lot younger at the time) to help him out.  When he came, he found that Sotuta de Peón had been all overgrown by forest.  So they had to clear it out and start plating henequen (by the way, you have to wait seven years for the Henequen to grow before you can harvest it).  He did a lot of the work.  So all the Henequen we saw on the ride?  Planted by him.  I guess back in the day there were 3,000 workers.  Now there are only 60 (just the bare bones to keep it running for tourists.  I should mention, the Henequen industry shut down a while ago.  Now most of it is imported from Brazil.  The henequen made here is given - for free - to the surrounding villages.  It's there that they make it into different little trinkets to sell to tourists.  As he put it, it's a way for them to earn a little more income).  He said that now, he is retired and all he has to do is sit on his little bench and welcome tourists (it was funny the way he said it.  We all laughed).  He was so cute!  

Of course, because he was speaking in Mayan, I took a video of it (which, was funny because later he commented on how now he now also got to be famous because his photo is now all over the world, or something like that.  I wish I could make the jokes as well as he did!).  So here is a video of him during part of his first lecture.  The second video is him explaining how to plant the Henequen plant.  What's nice is, although he speaks Mayan, the tour guide translates it (for obvious reasons.  None of us speak Mayan).  But because of the English couple, not only is it translated into Spanish, but into English as well.  So don't fear!  You shall be able to understand what he is saying :)

Side note:  Watch in between the people, about half way through the movie, for Profe's little boy.  I don't know why, but every time I watch that part, I always crack up laughing.  Ah, kids.  Such fun!  Also, do you like the whole double screen thing going on?  #groupprobs

Here's the explanation on how to plant Henequen.  It's not too long (bout 3 minutes) and I think it's super interesting.

After that, we said goodbye to the little old man (I wish I could remember his name!  It's Don something), we got back on the train and continued our journey again.  We stopped at the end of the line (well of that line anyway) where there was a small bar and some restrooms.  And...a cenote!!  A very beautiful cenote.  So we all got changed into our bathing suits and got in (we had an hour to swim).  The coolest thing about this cenote is it is literally undground in a cave.  The water is SO clear.  As clear as the Caribbean ocean, but it's pure water.  And there were no fish, which made me sad.

After that, we got back on the train and, following a different track, were taken to the exit.

Animal along the way.

Becca and I
After this, most of us changed back into dry clothes (some of us had changed before the train ride), then we piled back onto the bus and headed to our end of the Study Abroad lunch at this super fancy hotel in Merida.  It was legit.

Crembule!  Or however you spell that.

After lunch we all had to fill out a survey/evaluation about our experience here (you know how BYU loves their evaluations).  Following which (and after a little waiting for our bus), we piled back onto the bus and headed for the park!  (After dropping Profe and his family off.  They were letting the kids rest before going later).  It was nice we got to go to the park.  Malena got us the tickets, so we got in for free!  We stayed there for about two hours.  During which time I did the extreme obstacle course (which you will see some pics of shortly) and a jumpy thing.  By that time I was tired, so I and three other girls left for Claire's house (it took awhile, but we got a taxi!  Through Conner's geniusness in getting the park to call us one.  Else it would have been hard to get home.  We could've by bus, but it would've taken hours probably).  It was also at that point that Whitney pointed out I was lethargic and therefore, probably dehydrated, so I chugged some water.  #goodfriend  Anyway, here's the pictures (the last of them for today):

Notice the photo bomber, lol.

It was a great experience (for someone who can't stand heights, it was terrifying, but I did it!  Thanks to Janice and Aubreyann's and a few other's support.  I felt like I was on one of those team building shows).

Anyway, so after the park I went to Claire's house and iced my knee (it'd been bothering me all day), ate some cake and ice cream.  I was supposed to meet Christina there, but plans changed (I got more than a little frustrated with everything at this point.  I was tired. My knee hurt.  I was still recovering from an infection.  I'd had two chances to go home earlier, but hand't because I was waiting for her...Basically I was just done).  So I ended up speed walking to Wal-Mart to but an ace bandage before coming back to see if Conner was ready to leave.  He was.  So we headed out to the bus stop.  We waited a little while for the bus to come.  Wasn't too long of a bus ride, though.  We ended up at Conner's house (the bus took a different way then I'm used to).  So I dropped them off at their house and walked the few blocks to mine.  I was terrified.  But I survived.  I should've asked one of the boys to accompany me home, but I was too mad they didn't offer in the first place.  Anyway, that's a different topic that I shall not delve into, or I shall just get mad again.

Anyway, the point is, I survived.  Got home, got ready for bed, watched half of "The Blind Side" before passing out on my bed (not in the literal sense).  Didn't wake up til about 9 AM this morning?  And I basically didn't do anything today, except rest.  I call it the end of the study abroad, non-alcoholic hangover.  So basically I worked on a few school things, finished up the Blind Side, tried not to die from stomach pain, and slept.  Tonight Christina and I did watch Young Victoria.  SUCH a good movie.  Looking back on today, I guess I did accomplish something.  I finished my jar of nutella.  #success.  

So yep, that was my Friday and Saturday.  Friday was exciting.  Saturday maybe not so much.

'Til Tomorrow.

R J Carr     

PS Not all my pictures were included in my blog today (because, well, there are already a lot of them).  I shall be posting all of my pictures to my Facebook at the end of my trip.  So I shall post them then.  Only three more days till I'm home!  I shall miss Mexico, but I am very excited to be seeing my family (it's been four months).  #cantwait #realmilk #childreneverywhere #bliss

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