the Yucatan & Casa Hamaca
A new addition to Casa Hamaca 
Jenny, the manager of Casa Hamaca, finally had her baby late Sunday, Aug 29, with a C-section. A baby girl. First name is Linda after Jenny's mother, Doņa Linda. No second name yet. Baptism may not be until December. Bebe Linda is healthy and fat. Mother and child are both doing well although Jenny is hurting from the C-section.


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Cancun 
We recently had an architect as a guest at Casa Hamaca. He was on the original surveying and planning team for Cancun in the early 1970's. They camped in tents on the bare beach where the hotel zone now sits. This was a planned tourist development, from scratch, by the Mexican government. The original plan for the non-hotel zone was for no more than 30,000 people. Population in 2005 was estimated at 563,000. The word Cancun is probably of Mayan origin and can be translated as Nest of Vipers... an apt name, I think.

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Help Wanted: Archaeology or Art Conservation/Restoration student, professional or interested Amateur 
Three years ago I had the following mural painted in the grand salon of Casa Hamaca Guesthouse. It is based on a roll-out of a Mayan vase.

I really liked it but various people told me it was too much! So I had it pained over with another mural of Palenque after an original by Catherwood. This morning I came across the above photo and remembered just how much I like the original mural. So I am offering room and board at Casa Hamaca to someone who can "strip" the new mural, exposing the old one.
Not sure if they were done with oil-based or water-based paints. Not sure of the period of time between paintings. Not sure of many of the details. However, if you (or someone you know) might be interested in this project, contact me at denis@casahamaca.com or at denislarsen@yahoo.com. Thanks for any leads.

The same place I found the photo of the old mural, I found a photo of the gardens taken in July 2007. From the same vantage point, now you cannot see the main building of Casa Hamaca... that's how much the garden has grown. Here's the "Then" photo.


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Harvesting Wild Vanilla in the Yucatan 
How to harvest wild vanilla plants in the Yucatan. The plants (a type of orchid) will be transplanted to the gardens of Casa Hamaca where they will climb avocado trees. The flowers will be very beautiful, however, I hope to actually harvest vanilla beans in the future if the local species of Melipona bee is around to pollinate the flowers.

Wikipedia says "Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, due to the extensive labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods. Despite the expense, it is highly valued for its flavor, which author Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. described in The Book of Spices as "pure, spicy, and delicate" and its complex floral aroma depicted as a "peculiar bouquet." Despite its high cost, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture and aromatherapy." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla
for the full article.
YouTube video of the harvest

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Reading Glasses Distribution on Three Small Mayan Villages 
The women of Christ Lutheran Church, Woodcliff Lake, NJ, USA, donated a large number of new reading glasses to give away in the Yucatan of Mexico. Some of the staff of Casa Hamaca Guesthouse (www.CasaHamaca.com) and I gave out over 120 pair of reading glasses on April 23, 2010 in three small villages in the Yucatan: Dzitox, Chan X-cail and San Pedro. We spent about two hours in each of the villages letting the people try on varying-strength reading glasses and attempt to read the paper. Many of the people also needed distance lenses but for distance we only had some used (donated) glasses without any idea of what strengths they were. However, some worked and the recipients went away very happy. Especially happy were the young kids who were having trouble learning to read because they needed corrective lens to help them. They went away with very big smiles. If you are interested in philanthropic, volunteer or cultural opportunities in the Yucatan, please contact www.casahamaca.com or denis@casahamaca.com. See a video at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce3zL2zYgzA

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