EMILIANO & JAEHEE
emiliano@lacasapark.com  917 406 2854
jaehee@lacasapark.com  917 373 1548
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IMG_0293Hacienda Yaxcopoil.

One of the main interest for us to explore Merida was to visit these rich and historic Haciendas in and near Merida. ( thanks to Emi’s creative research as always..!)  Hacienda and museum Yaxcopoil, the 17th century Plantation house is located 13kms from Merida and it’s magnificent despite how much it has run down by today.  It was a bit cloudy day, so actually it was perfect for us to do a bit of field trip by car and we planned to visit also one more hacienda Ochil which is located very close to Yaxcopoil. After an early breakfast of “pan tostatda and nutella (always our favorita!) at our lovely colonial home with beautiful tiled floor we rented during the stay at Merida, now we are hitting the road to Yaxcopoil!

IMG_0090The exterior  of much weathered and washed hacienda Yaxcopoil (it means the place of the green Alamo trees) over last 4 centuries…

Hacienda Yaxcopoil was once considered as one of the most important rural estate in the Yucatan due to its size and magnificence. It covered about 22,000 acres of land at the time of its greatest splendor, operating first as a cattle ranch then later as a henequen plantation ( Agave platation; mainly seperated fibers from agave plants to make ropes). It’s hard to believe the remained hacienda today is only less than 3% of it’s original size due to continuous political, social and economic changes. It’s very sad. I can’t even imagine how rich the hacienda would have been at it’s best period!

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IMG_0106Beautiful interior of Casa Principal, the main building contains large lounges and drawing rooms with original European furnitures from 19th century, spacious corridors with high ceilings (about 30 feet at least!!!) and extensive gardens with varieties vegetation in colors and species… The Casa Principal has 5 rooms that stretch out to both east and west in symmetry with most amazing colorful tile work that changes from room to room. Here check out all 5 different tile work.

IMG_0107The center room.: the reception room is presided over by two oil paintings showing Don Donaciano Garcia Rejon and his wife Dona Monica Galera, who acquired the hacienda in 1864.

IMG_0105The first room off the center one in west wing.

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IMG_0113The last room in the west wing.

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IMG_0112Old photos and paintings of residents at Yaxcopoil are still hung from room to room. Either that is power of Government or a rich and considering private investor, we really hope things will remain and preserved in safe ways.  The hacienda’s decaying is being stopped by special treatment using some sort of mixture with honey to allow the visitors to experience the authentic charm of the haciendas and feel the echos of old history yet also it breaks my heart to think that all of this could be gone in any time or further decay and get destroyed… The hacienda is up for sale to public at this moment.

IMG_0124 The transfer of tile work from the center room to the first room of the east wing.

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IMG_0126The second room  into the east wing. The beautiful tiled floor continues and changes. As the tiles feel more as marble like texture, matt yet colorful but not shiny and slippery as ones in new days. Contrast to today’s modernism in less and minimal approach to the beauty, these old hacienda’s intricate tiled floor works as warm and more is more kind of attitude. I absolutely love the patterns and colors. They are done in immaculate taste.

IMG_0116The terrace right outside of the east wing toward the back of the hacienda. The view from here to the open court yard  in between the casa principal and the hall, and the entire site of historic plantation field where Machine house is located is quite amazing.

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IMG_0197Not sure how popular this hacienda is during this time period, but honestly we only had handful of visitors the day we visited. Above is Senor, Mario who was born in the Yaxcopoil Hacienda and raised and worked for all his life at the hacienda. He was sent to school right in front of the hacienda and had one doctor for all his life also right in front of the hacienda. Senor Mario gave us priceless private tour of the entire remaining site . Senor Mario had countless stories and memories to tell us with such a pride and nostalgia.  I mean Yaxcopoil Is his life and himself. He’s 67 years old today.

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IMG_0170Maybe one of our favorite rooms at Yaxcopoil hacienda. The ‘ Hall’ that turned into a small museum of Yucatan potteries and  objects. The beautiful flooring again and rustic bowls and hefty stone grinders are quite fabulous here.

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IMG_0167Here the Maya Room displays numerous pieces of ancient potteries and other archaeological relics of the ” Classic Period” ( A.D.250-900) found in the Mayan ruins of Yaxcopoil.

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IMG_0147Once it was a cattle farm that bred 2000 cows, the Hacienda now has 2 horses outside of east wing of the casa principal. They are peaceful…

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IMG_0208We follow the trail of senor Mario on his special private tour for us. Walking through the garden of the Hacienda.  He points out impressive water system for the entire hacienda including US made water pump that still works for today .

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IMG_0229Collected water by the water pump from the well underneath will be collected here and get to distribute to entire hacienda through stone water way that is built all the way around the property. It’s a huge system if you think then the hacienda was covering 22 ,000 acres of land and fed 2000 cows and other thousands of workers.

IMG_0242The Machine House: Casa de Maquena…

Ahhh it has been so run down… missing a few walls and all.  But also it’s very beautiful. Senor Mario had specially opened up the engine room for us to see (actually I was impressed that this room was quite well maintained).  The henequen (agave) shredding machines that were used to render fibers from the henequen plant is actually sitting outside from the engine room.  The engine was used upto 1984, when the production of henequen fiber has ended… It was more than a century of operation.

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IMG_0263The 100 HP German Diesel motor.

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IMG_0296This old photo well represent how rich and prominent work that Yaxcopoil has done at it’s best time.

IMG_0301The Chapel of hacienda.

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Now..It’s the end of our 2 hour tour with Senor Mario… What a great man with a pride of the hacienda and the  life he had in and for.  It naturally came to our emotions, appreciation, broken hearts and uncertainty of the future of this hacienda, Yaxcopoil.  We all broke down to tears…

Senor Mario. Thank you so much again for your generous time and stories that you shared with us.

This one single visit to the Hacienda Yaxcopoil made this entire trip worth and more. Sipping mixed cocktails and munching on chips on the beach just can’t beat this kind of experience.  It’s nice  but it’s not enough. It enriched our little lives that much more with this one visit. Our better understanding of culture of Mexico. It completely satisfied our hunger to taste what a great authentic Hacienda meant.  Also we know where to take this learning and how to apply for our new future trips with Gael to experience the ” Real” things.

I am so tired of lousily embellished insignificant commercial uneducated pretentious Bourgeoisie of this modern days. It’s everywhere and it pollutes our mind. You know what I mean!!!!!

I believe a visit to a few prominent haciendas is important to understand the past rich history of  Yucatan. The hacienda represents 3 great periods in the Yucatan Peninsula: the pre-Columbian period, the Spanish Colonial period and the boom years of henequen cultivation during the late 19th and early 20th century. While many haciendas have been destroyed or allowed to fall into ruin or in a contrary, they have been completely renovated in great deal of commercial way to be used as high end hotels. But Hacienda Yaxcopoil has been preserved to stop the time.

If you are visiting Merida, this is one must check out. Step back into its history!

IMG_0245Typical Colonial residential and commercial homes of Merida, Mexico

It’s day 3 now since we have arrived in Merida, the 470 years old cultural Capital of Yucatan Peninsula ( 35Km from the Mexican gulf and 350Km from Tulum, Riviera Maya) to spend our Christmas, and we have taken million pics already and have so much to talk about. Colorful colonial homes despite once the city was nick named as ” the white city”, absolutely amazing grand scheme Haciendas in and out of Merida we had visited today and quite intense experience at super lively open markets, stumbling into traditional Yucateca singing and dancing in beautiful costumes  at the piazza, our proper attending a Mesa at the Cathedral on Christmas eve…  And, I thought of starting our stories with quick sketch of  beautiful, much broken yet carrying elaborate metal work and washed in both bright and faded colors Colonial homes where people of Merida live.  The weather has been perfect around 75 degree F,  not too hot or not too cold, so it has been really great for us to stroll poking our heads around this city of 1million people ranked at 12th of the most populous Mexican Metropolitan areas. I have not been in Havana in Cuba, but I would imagine both cities may share some sort of similar vibe as far as that run down beauty in this rustic yet vibrant colors. And also the old mobiles… ( The beetle is the far #1 car people ride here in Merida)

Here come and stroll with us to enjoy many facades of colonial homes of Merida!

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The city offers plenty of inspirations in colors and patterns everywhere, especially when you get inside of any colonial homes. There is also great deal of Mexican culture you can’t taste in areas as Cancun. It’s very busy yet also tranquil at the same time. People are nice in Merida. You will see a huge high and low of the rich and the poor.  The shocking rawness and the reality of people’s lives at the open markets vividly contrasts with any sort of technology here in the city. This city makes you think about everything we have and don’t have. It’s one interesting place where real people live.

It’s Merida!

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We thought of so many other places for our last minute decision to leave the town for Christmas and New year’s. Nicaragua..? Brazil, Chiapas, Guatemala, somewhere warm and a place we haven’t visited.  Honestly the last minute tickets were impressively expensive and we decided to turn to Tulum again where it feels like home and now we even have  local friends we keep in touch.  But we will be adding a nice twist to this trip!  Such adventurers as we are even including Gael, the normal Tulum visit is never the same for us by exploring different parts of Tulum and the surrounding towns and nature, but this time we would like to do something also very much cultural by visiting Merida ( 300km from Tulum toward the west) , the capital of Yucatan peninsula where Tulum is resting.  Also I am patiently anticipating to experience some sort of event as religious or traditional performance specially designed for Christmas time in Merida and we are also super excite to stay in one of colonial homes of  the town and also to do ” Hacienda Hopping” in and out of area of  Merida.  ( There are countless numbers of traditional Haciendas in this area and we are about go visit a few prominent ones that will take our breath away!  I would be sure a Christmas gift for us!)

On Tuesday, arrived at Min’s ( A friend and a owner of Villas H2O Living and Pro diving in Village of Tulum) and it’s lovely to see her and the business partner and the pro diver Marco again. We chatted over a bottle of chilled prosecco as soon as we arrived at their nice and modern bed and breakfast. The next evening, we go for a easy dinner in town and Edgar ( at Coldwell bankers) pops out from a Boulangerie in village spotting us in the car to say hi. I see him hurt his hands and it concerns me and also it’s so nice to see him again.  It is so lovely to see people here in Tulum again. The nice guy at El Tabano ( our favorite restaurant) says ” Hi ” to us. He literally recognise us by reading our blogs. Ha!  It’s a great feeling and it feels home being in Tulum again.

The small bodegas, the cloud, the quiet ocean and clear breeze, beautiful palms, hippies on the beach, bicycle riders, cabanas, the sugared doughnuts at the Tulum supermarket, the supermarket helpers, the sun and Casarosas back here again…. It’s all great familiar faces and it all feels like home again!

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Darkness is New Cool. Darkness is New Sexy. I just knew this would be a fantastic film to experience  some sort of  “New Thing” out there  just seeing the poster of the ” Perfect Swan”,  Nina (Natalie Portman) in her make up in this Dark, Spooky, Genius, Psychological and  Sexy thriller, “BLACK SWAN” by Darren Aronofsky.   It was fun time with my team and colleagues at the Gap and it was also a good excuse to get out our hectic office and kick off our for Holidays officially! ( You know what I mean? )  Patiently watched literally million trailers of other up coming films ( …not so great most of times) , and BLACK SWAN  actually may have deserved all that openers. This Film IS Awesomely Amazing!

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Completely consumed  in her life as a ballerina, Nina (Natalie) the New Swan queen of New York City Ballet Company lives this quietly nervous and hair raising mysterious double life as the White  Swan and the Black Swan. Is it real that she’s bleeding on her finger tips…? Is that real she really saw it? Did she really stab herself? She’s crazy! No She’s not! Is she? What’s going on? Is her mom crazy?  No she just loves her. She’s maybe jealous of her? Does Lily ( Mila Kunis) wants Nina’s role? Who’s sleeping with who? What’s wrong with Nina’s body? What the heck is going on?!!!

I knew I was totally on this. But the director, Aronofsky’s masterfully controlled handle on Nina’s emotions and nerve wracking competition between Nina and Lily, and Nina’s that sliver of fragile will power to hold her self as the Swan queen can get you feel bit lost… But I think right there, that’s the beauty of this film.  Many details in this film impose so many meanings but its up to the audience to figure out or “Dream” about how and what is really happening. But there’s no time to justify everything that’s going on the screen. The painfully interesting and strong story of this film leads the audience helplessly to follow the next up with nervous and great expectation.  This uncomfortness to watch twisted and manipulate relations among pretty much everyone in this story definitely escalated my anxiety to the end, then I felt sort of Triumphant kind of feeling rising from my heart to see Nina’s success to conquer for her to be the ” Perfect Swan”.  You know what? I am greatly happy for her!

Natalie Portman’s magnetic powerful performance and her own perfection to control littlest emotions and details of her as Nina is mind blowing. I am also impressed with her dancing and sculpting her body and lines as the “Swan Queen”. It’s believable. She must have worked so hard on this. So I like to congratulate on her professionalism. I think she had greatly succeeded in this film.

And After I finished the film, I realized how genius it was that Rodarte’s quietly beautiful costumes for Nina had been.  Nothing is in your face out -loud costumy costumes. They did not separate one from others in such a clumsy way. You know they are different but you know they are also one. It was the most smart strategy to allow Nina completely lived, consumed, confused and blended as herself as a Ballerina,  “Swan Queen” and also have her become the actual 2 opposite swans herself.

The Black Swan is the White Swan and the White Swan is the Black Swan. And Nina is the both. They are the one.

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I just loved all of it.  Go watch it! It starts today “Everywhere”. Tell me what you think!

IMG_0181Gael pointing out the tallest one…!

Emi started feeling better. Slowly but surely I see the changes here and there and it was a quite lovely day on Saturday, so we wrapped ourselves in coats and hats and went out for a tree hunting. It’s always nice to see “Tree People” starting gathering their handsome trees up and all proud ( especially when it says ” Vermont” , I kind of envy that they are from Vermont always thinking it must be a lovely place to live and raise the trees and horses and all). And… wreaths and garlands…!  I always get tempted get these and decorate the stoop cases in very fancy way like those Brownstone veterans do in this neighborhood. They always look so quite rich and it always makes me think of either Dr.Huxstable in Cosby Show and his family or  the lady in that cooking show, Bare foot contessa, sure she will have some sort of thing for her porch.  Then we always tend to go away around the Christmas, so I give up on it again this year. But one day! I’ll sure practice!

We stopped by at a few spots and again this year, we ended up buying one from the guys on the Myrtle Avenue ( Corner of Myrtle Avenue and Hall Street). They always have the most varieties and the best prices we believe and it feels more local than going across to the Atlantic Avenue. We got a 7 foot tall beautiful one for $45.00!  Not Bad.  This year, the guys had built this cool little shack to escape the cold wind and  it looked quite awesome I thought.  This kid delivers for free there, so we had him do it with nice tip on his hands when he arrived at our home with our tree.  It sure feels like Christmas already tipping a kid trying to make some money around the holidays. He may want a pair of cool sneaks or a game sort of, or he may need that money to support the family even..? Anyway, the tree is up and it definitely makes our weekend at home much cozier…

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IMG_0209Our tree getting wrapped. A simple cool way to do it!

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IMG_0204We browsed end enjoyed bit of Holiday decorations at shops and houses in the neighborhood. There are inviting signs and all quite simple but it’s enough to make us think about the Christmas already.

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IMG_0193Not sure what this plant is but sure it belongs to Christmas Spirit. Fuzzy like sweater yarns…

IMG_0272And here’s our Tree!!!

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Early Merry Christmas to you all!

And this just out beautiful Annie Lenox’s traditional Pagan style music video of  God rest ye Merry Gentleman ( Thanks Beppe!)

A Video Gallery of NY times Selected Classic Screen Types:

Directed by Solve Sundsbo, Music by Owen Pallett, Produced by NY Times Magazine

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So I am So into Emiliano right now and Yes he is my hubby but also he’s going through bit of a moment not feeling so great these days so I find myself thinking about him all the time and I keep stealing quick looks into his face many many times. I wish Emi feels much better very soon and I realize I just love him no matter what and how and whatever and whenever that is.  I spent much time looking through our old photos today from the time since many seasons back ago with me, Gael, vacations whatever and whenever that was.  And I love looking at old photos and our little moments written from the past and I feel thankful about we had them and we will have much more again. I think about my brother how hard it would have been for him last year. And I think about my mother who lives alone back in my home and I wish she hang in there whenever she does not feel so great because I can’t imagine how hard it would be. And I really think about Benjamin who’s alone all the time and I better call him very soon. And Ben if you are reading this, I always always think about you. I like to fast forward the hard times but also the hard times are always humbling and make me grounded and think about many things in our lives and remind me of many good, bad and unfortunate things and let me measure how deep my heart and patience can go.  I was thinking about what inspired me these days that leads me to go to my little blog to write about it then I couldn’t really think of anything but then I thought I would just let myself out and it feels good.  Love you all.