the Yucatan & Casa Hamaca
Cinco de mayo parade 
This morning, about 7, I heard the sounds of drums and bugles coming from somewhere close. The past few days I had heard skyrockets and other fireworks. I did not really put them together until this morning when I learned that the Cinco de Mayo parade was forming up at the park in front of Casa Hamaca. It seemed that hundreds of kids, all in their best school uniforms, were milling around waiting to be told what to do. The corner store was doing a brisk business selling sweets and refrescos. Horses were prancing, riders were smiling. My wife told me that as a child she also marched for the Cinco de Maya and for Independence Day and other important celebration days.
One internet page suggested that the battle celebrated on Cinco de Mayo impacted US history. At the battle of Puebla, the Mexican army defeated the French forces which currently occupied Mexico. Because of the lost battle, Napoleon III decided not to support the Confederate States of America and so, perhaps, changed the course of US history.
Of course, in the Yucatan, they neither knew nor cared about this far-away battle. The Yucatan was having regular skirmishes and occasional more serious assaults between the government and the Mayans who were still unbeated after the War of the Castes (which started in Valladolid in 1848 and officially ended 1901 on Cinco de Mayo just south of Valladolid). However , the last real skirmish was in 1933, 85 years after the start of the conflict.

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Massage Exchange 
For the past few months a fellow has been coming around every couple of weeks selling raw honey from his fields. Each day of the week he goes to another town and walks his route selling his honey. The honey is bottled in used (but cleaned and washed), plastic, screw-top soda bottles (that's soda pop for you Mid-Westerners). The last time he was here we got to talking and he mentioned that he is a sobandero or traditional Mayan massage therapist. I told him that I was also a massage therapist (see: the aNeed2Heal website for further information). He quickly suggested an exchange and I agreed. So he came this afternoon and I gave him a typical "Swedish" massage with a few stretches thrown in for good measure. Next week he will be back to give me a massage.

I've done massage exchanges before here in the Yucatan (see:DalisLLama for the full story. I have found that the sobanderos really know their anatomy...all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones...but they have no idea what the scientific name is for any of them. They also have a tendency, in my experience, of fixing or curing the problem rather than helping a body heal itself. What that means in practice is they hurt when they work on you! I mean really hurt! But they do "fix" the problems. Some sobanderos also set broken bones and fix dislocated joints; so they are used to causing pain.

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Where is Valladolid? 
Greetings from Valladolid, Yucatan. I am located almost exactly mid way between Merida and Cancun. It is warm here today...about 95°F, pretty low humidity with a slight breeze. A nice day. It will most likely stay hot and dry for the rest of May. This is the time that the farmers burn their fields. They still use traditional slash and burn farming techniques. In March and April they cut down all the trees and shrubs in their milpa and let it dry. This month they burn the dry wood and brush to fertilize the ground for another year. Last year at this time they had to close the Cancun International Airport because there was so much smoke from the burning milpas. Bad as it sounds, I think that it still puts less carbon dioxide in the air per acre than agribusiness. But I don't really have the facts to back that up.

The farmers wait for the first of June, give or take a day or so, for the rains to come. Then they poke a hole in the ground with a sharp stick and drop in some seeds and cover over the hole. They have been planting this way long before the Spanish came here in the 1540s. The only real difference is that now the stick has a sharp iron point. The traditional crops are the Three Sisters: corn, beans and squash. The corn grows up, the beans vine around the corn and the squash spreads out to cover the ground. These three foods are the basic diet of the campesinos or the farmers and their families.

More later, if I can get this to upload!

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