It was an excellent plan. It took us through traditional Mayan areas with thatched huts and
into the towns of Santa Elena and Ticul, with their plain fortress churches with few win-
dows, built to withstand Mayan attacks.
We first stopped at Hacienda Blanca Flor, built in the 17th century and used as a strong-
hold during the War of the Castes in 1843. It was well maintained, owned by a doctor
in Campeche and open for tourism and business meetings. Across the road, a haunting
church skeleton overshadowed Blanca Flor. Black crows, looking like animated gargoyles,
strutted on the roofless walls. I took pictures of the abandoned church, the only part of the
hacienda now neglected, the church's rookery an Edgar Allen Poe scene.
Octavio, the manager, guided us around the property. He pointed out the Mayan glyph
chiseled in stone above the archway that led to the fields. The glyph was the iconic Mayan
harvest god of plenty. Next to the entrance were two statutes, St. Francis and Chac-Mool,
the Mayan god of rain. Fresh produce was growing in the hacienda garden. Workers were
pulling radishes and cleaning lettuce.
Saddles were lined up in the corridor ready for a mount. An ancient Ford flivver set on
blocks added to the sense of antiquity. Tourists were encouraged to stay in the hacienda
and take side trips to Mayan ruins, Campeche the Fortress Walled City, Isla Arena (Sand
Island) and Gurtas de Loltun (Loltun Grotto).
We got back into Alberto's truck. "Time for breakfast,” he said. We left Campeche before 7
a.m., and we were hungry. This was part of Alberto's plan. He had a special place in mind,
the outdoor restaurant on the plaza in Hecelchakán. Alberto recommended " torta cochin-
ita (thin-sliced pork sandwich)."
In Hecelchakán, the sidewalk was jammed with diners. "This is a popular place," I said.
Alberto said, “People drive all the way from Campeche just for a torta cochinita .” We
ordered cochinita ; the marinated sliced pork was folded into a tortilla. I generally have
coffee for breakfast, but this savory sandwich called for a beer.
In front of the restaurant, parked side-by-side at the curb, were three-wheel bicycle-taxis.
A standard bike frame and back wheel were attached to a two-wheel front cart with a shade
roof. Two people could sit together. Shoppers could carry their purchases home.
A bicycle-taxi pulled out, carrying a soldier who was sitting erect with a grocery bag at
her feet. She held a tray of thirty eggs and appeared unconcerned about her fragile cargo.
On the streets these taxis were busy. I wanted a ride.