the Yucatan & Casa Hamaca
Notes from 1955... OMG that's 55 years ago! 
Just reread this quote from the science fiction novel "Cities in Flight" (about 1955) by James Blish. I read this novel when it was first published.

"Under the relentless pressure of competition from the USSR and its associated states, the Earth's Western culture had undertaken to support a permanent war economy, under the burden of which its traditional libertarian political institutions were steadily eroded away. By the beginning of the twenty-first century it was no longer realistically possible to see any difference between the rival cultures, although their outward forms of government continued to be called by different names. Both were police states in which the individual citizen had lost all right to juridical defense, and both operated under a totally controlled economy. In the West, the official term for this form of public policy was "anti-Communism"; in the East it was called "anti-Fascism," and both terms were heavily laden with mob emotion. The facts of the matter, however, were that neither state was economically either fascist or communist, and that as economic systems neither fascism nor communism has ever been tried in recorded Terrestrial history."

The USSR went away, but the USA are (sic) still in a war economy and eroding more individual rights every day... little by little so that most of us don't even notice the loss. And "mob emotion"... just read the paper/internet and/or the TV news any day of the week. Maybe they haven't yet heard in Washington that the USSR dissolved some years ago. Or, just maybe, we have had to find a new global evil to justify our actions and priorities and prejudices.

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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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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 or at 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:
for the full article.
YouTube video of the harvest

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