Monthly Archives: July 2011

Life Long Learning – Merida Day Trips 2012

If you cannot join us for the Veracruz & Puebla culture-adventure tour in 2012… maybe you’d like to come along on one of the three local day trips we have planned?

The three feature a variety of attractions and you’ll meet lots of new friends.


Life Long Learning – Mérida is offering three local field trips. The trips are an excellent way to see the attractions surrounding Merida and to meet new friends. All trips include round trip bus transportation, entrance to the sites and a meal. You should wear comfortable clothing and for the February and March trips, bring a swim suit and towel. Also, bring your camera and a note pad and pen!

Payments:  Please note that the price of the workshops are in Mexican pesos. Payment can ONLY be made in this currency, in person at:

Tecnología Turística Total: Calle 57 No. 492 Entre 56 & 58, Centro, Mérida.

Life Long Learning – Merida reserves the right to cancel a workshop if there are not enough participants.  Those who have prepaid will receive a full refund.

For further information contact Larry or Reg:          Email:

TRADITIONAL MAYAN COOKING IN TAHMEC                                                                                              

Saturday January 21st

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

500 pesos per person

This is a unique opportunity to visit a village family home, help prepare the meal, watch as it is lowered onto white-hot coals and cooked underground (pibil style) While you wait for your lunch, we will visit the village and the nearby archaeological site of Aké. You’ll be able to try your hand at making tortillas before watching your steaming pot of supper rise from the earth – ready to be enjoyed by all.


Saturday February 18th

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

600 pesos per person

The coastal area of Yucatan is the winter home to a large number of northern seabirds. As well, it plays host to huge colonies of pink flamingos. From small boats, we’ll be able to observe and photograph them, as well as other interesting water life. We will then head to the beach for lunch and a swim before returning to Merida.

UXMAL AND SANTA ELENA                                                                                                                                 

Saturday March 24th

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

600 pesos per person

On this trip we’ll visit Uxmal, one of the Yucatan’s most splendid Mayan archaeological sites. The Temple of the Magician is just one of the unique Puuc style buildings. Afterwards, we’ll drive 10 k further, to Santa Elena where a delicious meal and refreshing swim await us at “The Pickled Onion Restaurant”



Filed under Vida Latina

Life Long Learning – Merida Workshops 2012

During the winter season 2012, Life Long Learning Merida will offer a series of workshops. Attending these local workshops is a great way to meet new friends and to enrich your time in Yucatan.  Some of the workshops will be held at our college, and others will be at different venues around the city.  The program will run from Monday January 16th  through Friday March 30th. It is not necessary to commit to a whole series, you can take one, or as many as you like  – each workshop is independent. No pre-registration is necessary, but doing so reserves your place. Most of the workshops can only accommodate a limited number of partricipants.


(All workshops are open to men and women. Delivery is in English and Spanish)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:                                                        

Larry & Reg:

Life Long Learning – Merida:



1:00 pm – 4:00 pm                                                                                                                                       

100 pesos per session, per person

Maximum participants: 15

You will need to bring a pad of drawing paper, pencils, a sharpener and an eraser. We will supply a board to lean your pad on. Each workshop will feature live drawing on site. Beginners and experienced artists alike will enjoy the opportunity to see and draw Mérida through the eyes of local artists.

Jan. 16: TTT (the college)

Jan. 23: Plaza Grande

Jan. 30: TTT

Feb. 06: Santa Lucia                                                                                                                                                    

Feb. 13: Mejorada

Feb. 27: Remate de Paseo de Montejo

Mar. 05: La Hermita

Mar. 12: TTT

Mar. 19: TTT

Mar. 26: Parque de Las Américas



1:00 pm – 4:00 pm                                                                                                                                           

100  pesos per session, per person

Maximum participants: 15

You will need to bring a notebook and pen, and a Spanish English dictionary. Handouts will be provided. Each workshop is completely independent and does not require that you take previous or subsequent sessions. You’ll learn how to use the language in everyday situations.

Level: Beginner

Jan. 17: Saludando sus vecinos                                                                                                                                       

Jan.24: Hablando con  los trabajadores

Jan. 31: Yendo de compras

Feb. 07: Vamos de viaje

Feb. 14: Las noticias

Feb. 28: La salud

Mar. 06: Las comidas

Mar. 13: Trámites (migración, pagos, etc)

Mar. 20: La naturaleza

Mar. 27: Eventos sociales




1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

100 pesos, per workshop, per person

This series of lectures / field trips / workshops will be held at TTT and some weeks the group will visit a museum as well. When an outing to a museum is planned, you will need to bring approx.  80 pesos for admission. You will also need to bring a notebook and pen.

Jan. 18: Folk Art Art Museum                                                                                                                                      

Jan. 25: The Prehispanic Era

Feb. 01: Museum of Anthropology

Feb. 08: Colonial Era in Mexico

Feb. 15: Festivals of Mexico

Feb. 29: Modern Art Museum

Mar. 07: The Mexican Revolution

Mar. 14: Contemporary Mexican Politics

Mar. 21: Music of SE Mexico

Mar. 28: Museum of the City



1:00 pm – 4:00 pm                                                                                                                                                

200 pesos per workshop, per person

Maximum participants: 15

Level: Beginner

You will need to bring a notebook and pen, and an apron.

Different chefs and home cooks will show you how to prepare some of the diverse foods of Mexico. After assisting in the preparation, you will enjoy a meal with the group.

Jan. 19: Corn

Jan. 26: Yucatecan Cuisine                                                                                             

Feb. 02: Chiles

Feb. 09: Oaxacan Cuisine

Feb. 23: Mexico City Cuisine

Mar. 01: Cuisine of Puebla

Mar. 08: Cuisine of Veracruz

Mar. 15: Vegetarian Cuisine

Mar. 22: New Style Mexican Cuisine

Mar. 29: Desserts

Maximum participants: 20



1:00 PM – 4:00 pm                                                                                                                                                

100 pesos per session, per person

Maximum participants: 20

You will need to come dressed in loose pants and bring a mat or thick towel on the Yoga days. You will need to wear shoes that give good support on the days we dance.  You’ll enjoy this “taste” of various dances and Yoga styles

You will need to come dressed in loose pants and bring a mat or thick towel on the Yoga days. You will need to wear shoes that give good support on the days we dance.  You’ll enjoy this “taste” of various dances and Yoga styles

Level: Beginner

Jan. 20: Danzón

Jan. 27: Yoga                                                                                                                    

Feb. 03: Salsa

Feb. 10: Tango

Feb. 24: Salsa

Mar. 02: Jarana

Mar. 09: Yoga

Mar. 16: Belly Dancing

Mar. 23: Tango

Mar. 30: Danzón


Filed under Vida Latina

Santa Elena revisited…

Today I revisited Santa Elena, a town that lies in Yucatan’s Puuc Valley. Home to approximately 5,000 citizens of mostly Maya heritage, it is located between the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah.  All the infrastructure to support tourism is to be found: inns, restaurants, shops, hiking and birding trails, phone and internet service – all the amenities of home in a delightful setting. Just 90 kilometers south of Merida, it makes a fine destination for a day trip. I certainly recommend “The Pickled Onion” as a great place for lunch. If you can, stay over in one of the small casitas. You’ll fall asleep to the sound of the crickets and wake to birdsong.

Although I have visited Santa Elena many, many times, today – for the first time, I found the church doors open.

But, “a picture paints a thousand words, right? Here are some of the shots I took today.                                                            

Built by the Franciscan order in 1779, the imposing colonial church looks as though it is sitting on top of a hill, but actually the elevated platform once formed the foundation of a Maya ceremonial building.

The stones from the earlier structure were used to build the Catholic place of worship


Mother Mary is an important figure. These are three represetations of  her. And below you’ll see two wooden altarpieces decorated by Maya craftsmen during the late colonial period

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Filed under Vida Latina

A New Project!

Now that my novel is done, and is in my editor’s hands, the laptop keys are pretty quiet. There will be at least one more revision (no doubt) and yet… I am now thinking about my next writing project. I don’t want to do more fiction for the moment, and in fact, I don’t want to write in English; I need a new challenge. I am going to write a book in Spanish, and once it is finished, I will probably translate the work into English.

What might I be contemplating? Well… I have been thinking a lot about how the population of Merida views the arrival of so many foreigners. Most of those I have spoken to have told me that they don’t know what to think because they don’t understand the phenomenon. “Millions of Latin Americans want to go to the USA and Canada. They want to work there. And a whole bunch of gringos are coming here! I don’t get it,” one of my friends told me.

I got the sense that she really wanted to comprehend… why on God’s earth… established citizens of another country would up and leave: their communities, their comfort, their families, culture, language… the works!

It got me thinking that this would be an excellent topic for a book… why not my book? The more I pondered the idea, the more excited I got and so… I have now have a new project!

But I require some help. I need people who will allow me to interview them, take a photograph and tell their tale. Are you curious? I’m sure so many of you have really interesting stories, opinions and takes on the topic. Think about it… And if you’d like further information before deciding to be one of those I speak with, send me an email:  If you are from a European country, from the Pacific or from Asia, I want to hear your yarn too.

I think this book will be very popular among the citizens of Yucatan… and will build goodwill. Here’s your chance to be a part of history!


Filed under Vida Latina, Writing

A Letter to my Son


Saturday July 23rd: Carlos called this morning and he has an entry about the tragedy on his blog:


I spoke with you this morning and you sounded so excited and full of life… talking about your wedding that will take place in ten days… about the masters  program you’ve enrolled in at the University of Oslo… your new apartment… and so much other bright, happy news.

Then, half an hour later you called back. “Don’t worry Mom, we’re alright.” The unthinkable had happened in safe, quiet Norway. A bomb had gone off… then later in the day, the news that the madman had attacked a youth camp. My head dropped and I had to wonder what this world is coming to.

Mexico, of course is no stranger to violence. We live with our own demons. But I think this makes us more compassionate to others who are suffering in the same way. My heart goes out to the people of Norway. Violence shakes our foundations. When it touches you, it feels as though your reality is something all together different than you thought it was.

But although you are in shock and reeling from today’s events, the important thing is to go forward with your plans and not let this individual’s craziness destroy any more than he has. The best way to fight negativity is with positive thoughts and actions.  Think about the wonderful times you’ve had and look forward to the many more that are coming your way.

With this post I want to convey my sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy… you are not alone.

I send love from Merida.


Filed under Family and Friends

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

We have all heard the catch phrase: “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.” And we know about doing that with bottles, cans, jars, newspapers… we separate our garbage into organic and non- organic, and try to use water judiciously. But today I found a way to get new jewelry by recycling!

Like me, I’m sure many of you have an old cookie tin or other such container, that is full of necklaces with broken clasps, earrings whose mates have seemingly taken off with “la otra”, as well as pieces that, well… we just don’t like very much. I was looking at all my junky beads and I thought, “Maybe I could make something out of all this?” I took the cookie container of bits and pieces to my friend Patricia and she made me 4 necklace and earrings that match.  WOW! They came out so well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Inspired I looked at the linen drawer, and decided I didn’t need to get rid of my many sets of 7 or 5 napkins because I now like to set different colors all mixed up.

My husband found an innovative use for a whole bunch of little clay dolls that he bought from a gaggle of girls in Chiapas. Don’t they look beautiful displayed in a rustic bowl?

A lot of mismatched and left over tile? We made this shelf along what was an empty wall, It comes in very handy for all sorts of stuff..

And a broken cooking pot makes a wonderful place to grow orchids.

It’s gratifying to me, to see how new treasures can come from resurrecting the old. I think that I’ll let stuff pile up again for now… and just before the Yuletide season, I’ll go through my closets again… I wonder what kind of neat gifts I can fashion from the my recyclable world.


Filed under Family and Friends, Vida Latina

Coincidence or what?

Do you believe in coincidences? Or when serendipitous things happen, do you believe there’s more than meets the eye? I happen to feel the latter is often the case.

First “coincidence”: Today would have been my parent’s 59th wedding anniversary.

Second “coincidence”: Today, I received Christmas greetings from my cousin who lives in Canada. In with her card, she enclosed three letters, three photographs, and two drawings. And no, my cousin isn’t mixed up with her dates… the letter was mailed well before last year’s Yuletide season. But… somehow the “Mexico” part of the address got damaged and so the envelope made a world tour before it arrived into my hands.

Third “coincidence”: The letters, photographs and drawings are from 1955 and were sent to my grandmother and my parents from my aunt who lives in Holland.  She is 99 years old and today, I found out that while Jorge and I are in Amsterdam on August 4th, she expects us for “tea” at 4 pm.

In the letters she says how much I (a little girl in 1955) look like the van der Gracht side of the family and she wonders what I’ll look like when I’m older… I plan to take the letters and pictures to show her.

So all of that coming on the same day seems like “more than a coincidence!”


  • The Canadian soldier is my father is 1945. See how young he is… and he had fought for 6 years by that time.
  • The drawing is by my aunt; it is the view from her studio on one of Amsterdam’s canals
  • The child’s face, used on the header is mine as it was in 1955


Filed under Family and Friends