Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Scripture: Thankful

Let the word of Christ dwell in you 

richly, teaching and admonishing one

 another in all wisdom, singing psalms

 and hymns and spiritual songs, with

 thankfulness in your hearts to God.  

~Colossians 3:16

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Vendors at Chichen Itza

We had been told there would be lots of vendors at Chichen Itza.  With over a million people coming there every year, the vendors have a large and different crowd every day.  I have no idea if they make a good living selling, but most looked prosperous, and most had cell phones in the hands.

Before we got to the entrance door, we were met on the stairs with shouts of  Five Dolla, Five Dolla. It was as hot and humid as Alabama in August, and if you didn't bring a hat, I think five dolla was a bargain.

Speaking of hats--you can always pick out cruisers who have enjoyed too many margaritas at the port; they all are wearing huge sombreros when they get back on the ship. Huge sombreros like we saw in the very old westerns, except these have Mexico in red letters across the top. I'm curious about how they get them on the plane when they go home, and what they do with them after they return home.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Before the SEC

Ball games were a little different during Mayan times, but I'm sure they were just as exciting as they are today.

Chichen Itza has a huge ball court, and history tells us that players came many miles to compete.  It was a game similar to soccer.

The teams didn't have a regular season, but played when the stars and planets were in the proper positions.

The object of the game was to get the ball through these rings in the wall.  The ball was made from the fruit of Manilkara chicle, the same source of our Chiclets chewing gum.

Here's where it gets a little crazy.  The captain of the winning team, because he had proven he was the best in the land, was promptly sacrificed to their gods.  The carvings in the photo above tells the story of these sacrifices.  Wonder if many of them lost the game on purpose?

Below, another snake guards the stadium carvings.

And we think football is too rough.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Jennie Augusta Brownscome. The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914. Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. -H.U. Westermayer

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. ~Edward Winslow, A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1621.

More than 200 years after that first thanksgiving celebration, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Most people living today cannot really imagine what life was like for the Pilgrims. With their own hands, they made tools and built a nation. Their food crops weren't grown for bragging rights or as a hobby; their crops determined if they would starve or live through the winter. They were truly thankful when the rains came, when the hot days made the corn stalks climb. They thanked God for a bountiful crop of acorns and other nuts, which fed the game that fed them. They gave thanks that their children had lived to be a year old, that their hands were able to hold the ax and the plow. The pilgrims were thankful for neighbors who would help them, sharing seeds and knowledge of the land, without which they could not have survived.

Thanksgiving doesn't have much importance anymore in our culture. It is a day to eat too much and fall asleep later watching football. It serves as a launching point for the Christmas season, with Black Friday the next day and the coffee table piled with ads for 5:00 AM (or earlier) shopping. This year, many places are open Thanksgiving Day.

Some decorate their homes and businesses for Christmas after Halloween, just skipping Thanksgiving completely. Please, just for today, can be take a little time to be thankful? A gentle reminder:

*while you're enjoying your comfortable home, 80% of the world live in substandard housing.
*while you're reading your Bible or other book, 67% of the people can't read.
*while you're stuffed from your dinner, 50% of the world is malnourished and 1% is starving.
*while you're cleaning up after dinner, 33% of people don't have safe drinking water.
*when you go to the bathroom, 39% of people don't have improved sanitation.
*while you're comfortably watching television, 24% of people have no electricity.

God has blessed our nation, for in its beginning, they didn't forget Him.

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
–Psalms 30.12

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chichen Itza

For a thousand years, the Mayan people lived and built their civilization from the jungles of Guatemala to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  Many of their buildings remain, and excavation work is still going on. Chichen Itza was one of the most powerful cities of the Mayan civilization, built in the northern region of the Yucatan Peninsula.

We learned so much history of this place that I can't begin to tell it all here.  There are many books available if you want to know more.  Here is a good place to start.

These Mayans were apparently obsessed with snakes; there are multiple snakes in their carvings.

An estimated 1.2 million visitors come here every year, making it the most visited site in Mexico. I think about half of them were there the same day we were.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bus Trip to Chichen Itza

Just before we got to Chichen Itza, the bus stopped for a potty break and to pick up our lunch. Of course, there were many vendors with traditional clothing, art, and Mayan artifacts.

It was a clean, well-arranged place.  We had been told that their prices were a little higher than the vendors at Chichen Itza, but that didn't seem to matter. There were many shopping bags carried back on the bus.

I rarely buy souvenirs when we travel. I have photos to remember where we have been, and really don't need Mayan calendars or little plastic Mayan gods to sit on my mantle. It was a nice break from the bus, however, and we had a lot of fun talking to the other people on the excursion.

More tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Progresso, Mexico

Unlike Cozumel, Progresso is a fairly new stop for cruise ships, and there is not a lot to see there now.  We were assured that they are working on improving things there, and that is much like Cozumel was twenty years ago. Most of these photos were taken out of a bus window, if you are wondering about the reflections in the photos.

Unlike some ports, there is no beach when you get off the ship in Progresso.  Other than a few vendors, there would be no reason to get off unless you were going on an excursion.

Over a hundred of us took a long bus ride to Chichen Itza, a Mayan city that was named one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007. I have wanted to go there since we studied the Mayans in a cultural geography course while I was in college.

The bus was as comfortable as a bus can be and the scenery was nice, but it got old before we got there--2 hours and twenty minutes on the bus, each way.  But if you want to see Chichen Itza, that's the only way to do it.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Scripture: Sing!

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
~Psalm 95:1-2

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sky Paintings

The air up there in the clouds 
is very pure and fine, 
bracing and delicious.

 And why 

shouldn't it be? 
— it is the same the angels breathe. 

~Mark Twain