Sunday, 9 December 2018

Mexico: Two haciendas

Entrance to Hacienda Yaxcopoil

This post compares two haciendas that we saw in Yucutan. The first, en route to Mérida, was Hacienda Yaxcopoil (pronounced Yash-copo-il) and according to my Lonely Planet guidebook there is a trail of lost haciendas in the area around Celestún, which I am sure would make an interesting project.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil had specialised in henequen a product of Agave fourcroydes which was used to make rope and twine - and also a licqueur. It was a major export in the 19th century, via the port of Sisal, and led to many hacienda owners becoming wealthy. This wealth was a factor in the creation of the Paseo de Montejo in Mérida at the end of the century. The bottom only dropped out of this market after the Second World War.

The hacienda is now quite run down, but if the main gate is anything to go by, must once have been very prosperous. It has apparently been bought by a German family who plan to do it up. It is in two parts: the residential building, seen here from the front ...

... and here from the right hand side.

Perhaps the most surprising thing was the enormous scale of the works which process the agave into hennequen.

Rather different, is the Hacienda Chichen Itza. It was built by the Spanish in the 1540s, i.e.very soon after the conquest. For centuries, its main business was cattle raising, more like a South American hacienda. In the 20th century it became a hotel. This is the main facade.

Here is the original entrance gate.

And this well-head is the opening of a cenote, once providing the all-important water.

The grounds are extensive and beautifully landscaped. In the rougher areas around the edges I managed to spot a few butterflies, notably this Mexican Blue Satyr (Cepheuptychia glaucina).

There was also this wonderful turtle.

And on a most enjoyable birding walk in the late afternoon my attention was directed to this lovely, but shy, Woodpecker.

There were lost of other birds too, but poor light and inept photography prevented any worthwhile pictures. The birding guide was a lovely Mayan, who surprised me later in the evening by turning up as a a mariachi with two mates and serenading us while we ate our dinner.

Rating: four stars.

No comments: