Sunday, October 1, 2017

Coming up for air

Lately, things have been a bit busy at my pesky day job, to the point where the only break I've had since the beginning of July was a few days up at our camp with some of my beady friends in early August. Other than these days I've worked non-stop (nights and weekends) for what seems like an eternity. Now you all know why I've been M.I.A. in the blogosphere lately.

All that said, my handful of days up at the camp were bliss. Christine and Amy joined me for a few days of beading, hiking, drinking some wine, birding, did I say beading? There was lot of that, which was fantastic. There was the usual bead swapping, pattern sharing a bit of tutorials and teaching. It is exactly as a bead retreat should be. It was made better by being able to bead out on the screened porch and bead to the sound of the birds and the water.

Amy brought a book of patterns she had organized for Christine and me, which included a tutorial on a bangle pattern she has designed. We all tried the pattern, then Christine did an extra for good luck. The pattern is gorgeous and the beads Amy chose gave the best sparkle to this bracelet.

There was also some birding going on. Both Christine and Amy are experienced 'birders' which I can't say I understood much of that discussion! But I did enjoy the hike looking for a few of the local birds up at the camp. We caught the Chief Birder (Amy) birding and taking pictures at the end of the lake where many of them nest. She is an experienced photographer who takes the most amazing close ups of birds! No idea how she catches them in her photos but it always takes my breath away when I see them. Seriously look at these of a snowy owl on the beach. How does she get these pics?

Hard to believe that we're heading into Fall, and somehow I seemed to have missed most of my summer. We're talking about getting another retreat set up, which I can't wait to escape again with my beady friends. Soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chicago :: The Cultural Mile

The Bowman
Buckingham Fountain
I've been to Chicago more times than I can count. I have always enjoyed my trips to this city, but nothing ever really tugged at me to visit on my own dime.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Miracle Mile is lovely, but honestly it is a sort of a 'mini me' to NYC. Ok, ok ... I hear you all out there shouting at me. But seriously, if I wanted to do some high-end shopping, New York will do. I'm not exactly sure why I always thought that this little section of Michigan Ave was the extent of 'downtown' Chicago, but boy was I wrong. Really, really wrong. 

Yes, and now I hear you all laughing at me. That's ok. It's justified. How is it that I never made it down the other end of Michigan Ave to what Chicago calls its Culture Mile? As crazy as it might sound, all of my trips to Chicago have been for business, even this last time. And per usual, work booked me a few paces from the office just off of ... yes, Miracle Mile.

Monroe Harbor
But this time it was different. I was in town for a conference over at Roosevelt University, which is just across the street from Grant Park, which is next to the Art Institute and across the street from the Symphony. As I jumped in my cab from the hotel over to the University I headed down the other end of Michigan Ave ... my jaw dropped as one amazing view after another was rushing by the window. Yes, I saw 'the Bean' and those water fountains that spit water out the mouth of the image (you kinda have to see it to understand it), but then there was the Art Institute, the Symphony, the University and the expanse of Grant Park. I was sitting there wondering how I had never been to this end of town? And I was rapidly trying to figure out how to cram in a few minutes of sight seeing while I was in town.

Daphne
I did manage to get out of the conference and walk across the street to Grant Park, and then all the way out to the water's edge of Lake Michigan at Monroe Harbor. Wow, what a view. It always amazes me how vast the Great Lakes are with only water on the horizon. I've always felt that I needed to live by the sea, but I can see why living along the Great Lakes could feel good. 

Metra Commuter Rail
At the heart of Grant Park is a huge water fountain (Buckingham Fountain) that gives you a light spray from the breeze off the lake, and a wonderful way to cool down on a hot summer's day. As you can see from my pictures the weather was absolutely stunning.

As you walk back toward the university you pass by two huge bronze, equestrian statues that stand as gatekeepers to Congress Plaza called The Bowman and The Spearman. They were made in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia by a local sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. The original one was supposed to be a Cowboy, according to a friend who lives in Chicago. The muscular figures are eye-catching, to the point where you don't realize that their weapons are actually missing. Local stories suggest that they were taken as an elaborate prank; however that really is just lore. Meštrović omitted the weapons intentionally and left them to the imagination. In between the bronze statues is one called Daphne. I didn't realize that typically she is a trellis with flowers growing up her skirt. Since I was in between the next growth, she looked a bit bare, but if you click on the link you'll see her in all her glory.

I think the best part of my quick trip to Chicago was that I was able to slip out for an hour and meet up with a bloggy friend that I have known for years, but never met. Bobbie works at the Symphony, only a block from my conference, so it was just enough time to meet over a quick lunch. She was exactly as I imagined she would be, sweet, funny and very welcoming. She gave me a beautiful gift of earrings and some fun beads to work with. Thank you - I love them! 
This trip to Chicago was nothing like my previous ones. I will be back, this time on my own dime and hopefully doing some bead shopping with my friend Bobbie.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Life In Between

My oldest daughter started college last year in Boston. She was so excited to be out on her own exploring an amazing city like Boston. You could hear it in her voice as we skyped each weekend. For me, it was wonderful to catch up and see how she was doing as it was so hard not having her around. I would stop and just look into her empty room. I missed my girl.

She is home now for summer. In between semesters, and in between the phases of her life. She has her college stuff stored away for the summer in boxes, and she really hasn't unpacked much. She knows she's home for only a few months then back to school come August.

I remember vividly this period in my life when change just seems to endlessly come at you. Shifting from the over stimulation of school, classes and friends, to the quiet of being home for the summer. I would work two jobs to earn money for school. My day job was working in a store, and I waitressed nights. It was a time to give my mind a breather from academics as I really couldn't think of much beyond working or sleeping. 

I found Kate reading a book on Transitions the other week, which struck me as much more mature than I was at this age. She will be switching schools in the Fall to the University of Connecticut which will be a big change. A much larger school with a lot more going on around campus. 

For now, I am just enjoying the breather between semesters with her. It has been wonderful having her home, chatting and just seeing how much she has grown this past year. I can sit and bead as we chat. This one she is wearing is a simple herringbone rope, which I think she wears quite beautifully.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Egypt: Menat Necklace

Whenever I visit a museum I always seem to end up for hours staring at the ancient beaded jewelry trying to remember the patterns and colors. Many times they don't allow you to take pictures, so I will sketch and take notes.

The NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places where I can spend hours just looking at the Egyptian jewelry exhibit. I have a tendency to get separated from whomever I'm there with as I won't hear them mention that they are moving on to the next room. It happens (almost) ever time I visit.

My favorite pieces always seem to be the beaded collars. I am amazed by the age of the beads, the colors and the extravagance of the patterns. This particular type of wide beaded collar is called a menat. Typically the strings of beads come together in the back with a heavy counterweight (when worn as a necklace) to keep it in place. The counterweight could also be held in the hand to make a rattling noise like the sistrum, an ancient musical instrument, which literally means 'to shake.' Egyptians believed that the noise drove off evil and would defend them against their enemies.

The sistrum and menat date back to the 6th Dynasty as symbols used (mainly by women) in the cult of Hathor. Often the dead would be buried with a menat as it was the symbol for divine protection. For the living, the menat would be held in the hand of a high priestess'  to act as a medium through which the goddess' power was transmitted. Because the queen herself could function as the high priestess of Hathor, royal wives would be seen offering the necklace to their husbands. You see this in King Tut's tomb where his wife and queen, Ankhesenamon, is offering the pharaoh a menat necklace signifying rebirth of the dead.

I have wanted to make a beaded collar like this for quite a long time, but never found the right design. When I stumbled on this pattern I decided to pull out some gorgeous tear drops from Stinky Dog Beads. This collar beaded up quickly and has a nice weight to it. It feels substantial on, and the beads have such a nice sound to them. I didn't include the counterweight in the back, but instead beaded the collar all the way around to button in the back. I think it looks wonderful with a pair of jeans.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Milan :: An Ancient City

Sforzesco Castle
Piazza Castello
As I walked across the Piazza Castello, or the outer courtyard, toward the Sforzesco Castle my eyes drifted up to the outline of the fortified castle walls against the skyline. No modern skyscrapers in view, just a view as seen through the ages. Stunning. One of the main landmarks of Milan originally built in 1358 by the Visconti (one of the two important Italian noble dynasties of the Middle Ages).

By now, those who follow my blog know that I love the history behind my travels. And this recent stay in Milan proved to be one of those magical trips where I could dive headlong into the history of the place.

Duke's Courtyard
Ducal Courtyard 
One of the surprising things I learned in studying the history of Milan is that it was originally founded by Celts around 600 BC. Wait, what? I always associate Celts with Ireland, but Celts were originally the people of Medieval Europe (around 1200 BC) who spoke Celtic language and had cultural similarities. It wasn't until roughly 450 BC that the Celts migrated north to the British Isles. The Romans showed up around 222 BC, ambushed the Celts, took over and renamed the city Mediolanum (Milan). And thus founded the Northern Roman capital city.

Sempione Park
The castle was a highlight of our stay in Milan. We spent 2 full days exploring it, walking through the many courtyards, looking at the sculpture, stonework, tile work ... you name it, this place has it. The walkway ceilings surrounding the Ducal Courtyard looked like something you'd see in the Game of Thrones in the Kingdom of Dorne. And I loved the reflecting pool in the Duke's Courtyard, an oasis in the middle of Milan.

Another wonderful discovery was the massive city park just outside the castle. One of the back gates is a drawbridge that lets out onto the expanse of Sempione Park, a 95 acre park of rolling hills, lakes and walkways. 

Our weather for this trip was unbelievable. Everyone kept telling us it was 'unseasonably warm.' Just our luck! We wandered through the park on a gorgeous 80-degree day with a bit of a breeze. You could not ask for better weather. We spent the afternoon just watching the world go by. There was too much to see in this ancient city for one trip. We will return, of that I have no doubt.

Monday, May 1, 2017

UFOs :: Round 2

Karen announced another UFO hop, and like many of my bloggy friends we're all in. The motivation to work through all those half finished pieces on the bead table is strong. 

Many of us have stared down these UFOs for years shifting the piece this way and that trying to capture a glimpse of what the piece might look like finished. Myself included. I know I, for one, want to see these pieces come to life and move off my bead table once and for all!

The process is slow trying to work through my collection of UFOs, but I have finished another piece. This one actually includes two UFOs into one (score!). I paired a bezeled glass cab with a small bit of grey, beaded herringbone to create a 'bib fringe.' Not sure if a bib fringe is a real thing, but hey I'm in to fringe these days and I'm trying all kinds of variations. I liked how it looked together, so I went for it in this piece.

The problem was that I could tell that once I tried to include a backstrap it was going to twist and turn. So I mounted it (aka glued it) on a heavy gauge piece of silver that I had hammered. This created the perfect anchor for the focal and an easy way to attach some leather. Not sure why this final UFO was such a struggle with so many starts and stops, but it is finally in the finished pile. Now I'm trying to decide what might be next to tackle from this pile of UFOs.

Be sure to check out everyone else's finally finished UFOs: Karen, Francie, Christine, Therese, BobbieKim, Liz, Liz E, Amy, Hope, Christi and Margo

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lake Life :: Como

There is nothing like sitting in an old town square, next to a lake and slowly watching life go by. You can feel the relaxation seep through you in waves as you slowly exhale and soak in the sun.

I have heard about Lake Como over the years, and somehow expected it to be more of a scene given all the celebrity sightings and talk of secret Mafia meetings. It was nothing as I imagined. I did not see George fly by in a speed boat, or anyone from the Versace Villa sit and sip an Aperol Spritz in the town square, which by the way, is my new favorite summer drink. It looks a bit like orange Kool-Aid, and I couldn't get over that I saw absolutely everyone drinking it from wine glasses? It took me awhile to figure out exactly what it was (Prosecco with Campari), but by the end of the trip it had become my go-to drink. 

The main center of this idyllic town was not crowded, but still quite active with people enjoying local cafes or shopping. Perhaps it was the time of year? I kept hearing that it was unseasonably warm. It was in the high 70s while we were there, but apparently it is typically in the low 60s this time of year which might be still a bit cold for lake life. Whatever the reason, we seemed to hit this little town at just the right moment in time. Everything was in bloom, the weather was perfect and there was room to breathe.

Across the water from the main square, you can see the villas of the aristocrats scale up the hillside. Lake Como has been a popular retreat for the wealthy since Roman times, and you could feel that in the architecture. A stroll through the narrow back streets that surround the square open up to a secondary square with the local cathedral built in 1396 in a Gothic style. It was simple, yet stunning, and nowhere near as ornate as other European cities. But it commanded the skyline giving it a beautiful focal to the town. As you can see I simply fell in love with this little town and cannot wait to go back for another visit. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

UFOs :: Flipping the Rorschach

Oh those UFOs, they are the bane of a beader. They taunt you from the bead table, calling to you, as they lay there unfinished. You simply stare down at it knowing you need to either change direction or rip it out. Ugh, but the amount of work that went into it, and that original image you hold in your head keeps you from ripping it apart. Sound about right? Sigh.

I have so many of these unfinished objects that I've lost count. I knew for this hop I had to pull out the mother of all UFOs ... this beaded collar. Or at least that is what it was supposed to be, and yet when I assembled the collar it hung like a large rectangle. Why? Because I had the curve of the collar at the neckline completely wrong. Or should I say that it had no curve at all, it was a straight edge. I mean come on, who has a triangular neck? Clearly I had not thought this through, and yet I'd spent all this time putting these beads in place. Yep, the moment you just want to chuck it at the wall. This is my first attempt at a collar necklace, and a mistake I won't make again. Hugh sigh. 

I could not get myself to rip this one apart. Look at this piece. I spent hours upon hours beading in vintage, irregular Turkish seed beads and then lined the edging with vintage glass pearls. Then backed the piece with suede. There was ab.so.lute.ly no way I was pulling this thing apart. And so it sat on the bead table for more than a year. When Karen announced this UFO hop I knew I was going to pull this thing out and force myself to deal with it. 

So here is what I did. I decided that the one side of the collar could actually be the focal of an asymmetrical necklace. I went back to my stash to pull out more vintage pearls to balance the other side. My mother had given me a pile of old pearl necklaces that matched the small Turkish pearls from a friend. I also needed to pull out the backing and get rid of one of the connector jump rings I'd embedded on the left side. I left the other connector on the right to use as part of a toggle. I wanted to balance the width of the pearls to the collar so I added a square plate that I could anchor the pearls. Then it was just a matter of adding a backstrap.

What took so long to come to this solution? A solution that took me roughly 2 hours to complete? I think it is the same angst for all UFOs. You start a piece with a vision in mind, and it is hard to re-set that lens. But once you let go and flip the Rorschach you can finally re-imagine your piece. 

There is a crew of us working on UFOs, so check out the rest of the blog hop: Karen, Christine, Amy, Therese, Kim, Liz E, MargoCathiLiz and Francie.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

St Petersburg :: City of Murals

Life Reimagined by Sarah Sheppard
We recently spent a week down in Tampa and St. Petersburg Florida. I can't say that either of these places were anywhere near the top of my bucket list, but I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed ourselves. We managed to have something planned for everyday we were there, which was a full 10 days. We did everything from aquariums, to museums, walking tours, amusement parks to zoos. My husband completely overbooked us, but my daughter and I willing tagged along from one place to the next. 

Xtreme Ethel by Derek Donnelly
For me the highlight was St. Petersburg. It's an artist enclave, or Florida's version of Portland, OR's NE Hawthorn street, or San Francisco's Noe Valley. Need I say more. I felt like I was at home in this eclectic little town. We took an afternoon to walk the murals just off Central Avenue. You just walk over to the alley off of 8th street to start the tour. It runs roughly another 4 blocks straight through the back alleys with one mural after another. The thing that captured me most was that this was an endless display of art, outside and open to the people. Art should be enjoyed, and this series is worth the walk. 

Snake Woman by Leon Bedore
I'm not sure if I could say which one was my favorite, although anyone who knows me knows just how much I love Frida. And yes, there was a mural of Frida smiling right at me. I did really love the one by Sarah Sheppard called Life Reimagined, which is about disrupting aging. She explains that the gears represent the grind of the working world. The woman is part Banyan tree that sinks its roots into the community and her arms reach out to the Phoenix. She is looking for her rebirth and what is to come next in life.

by Shark Toof 
As we started our tour, the first mural we saw was one of a skateboarding granny called Xtreme Ethel by Derek Donnelly. This mural depicts Ethel Percy Andrus in her 70s who was a woman ahead of her time. She was the first female school principal in California, and in retirement she found that too many talented older people were 'put out to pasture.' She wanted to change what it meant to age, so she created several associations (the most notable one being AARP in 1958) to empower older Americans to continue to pursue their passions with independence, dignity and purpose.  

Space Rainbows by Ricky Watts
Another mural I loved was Ricky Watts' trippy Space Rainbows. Ricky says that his art is "psychedelic, abstract eye candy." He says that public art brings energy to a community, which I have to agree with since this mural tour has people strolling from block to block down back alleyways as though they are wandering the halls of a museum. The art is all out in the fresh air with the sun shinning down on it. Perhaps that is why they decided to call the St Pete's Mural Festival SHINE. The city continues to encourage new editions to the collection and actively seeks out artists to paint more. I never thought I'd be drawn to a city based on street art, but I for one will want to return to this city of murals just to see what's been added to this outdoor collection. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

UFOs :: The Everyday

I showed you my first grouping of UFOs in my last post. There are more. Many, many more. But let's work on this pile first.

Next up is the dark purple glass cab to the right of the green one I just finished. This purple one almost looks black and has a faint pattern in it. It is so hard to photograph to bring out the pattern, but this picture off to the upper left was the best I could do.

I was wearing this one around the house to check how it hangs and if it needed any adjusting. My husband actually noticed saying "oh that's a pretty one." He so rarely comments on any of my pieces that it threw me. I do like the simplicity of this one, and that it would be good to wear for everyday. I wear a lot of black and this one might just be ok to wear to the office. I might need to take it out for a test drive for a meeting I have tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

UFOs :: Completing Unfinished Objects

Hello, my name is Cynthia, and I am a bead-aholic. I get distracted like a child in a candy store when I'm standing in front of a table of beads. My mind races with possibilities, but many times fails to complete the thought.

We all like to joke about UFOs (UnFinished Objects) lying around our bead tables. I have a hopeless, and chronic issue with them. I start many projects, but get distracted somewhere along the way.

I'm not sure what causes it. Perhaps it comes from the rush I get when a pattern appears in my head and I hurry to get it worked out through the beads. And once I see the beads come together I get distracted by yet another shinny objects on the bead table.

Sometimes it is a technique I'm practicing and I work it over and over in my hands. It is like when I was a child and was learning the piano. I would work the same couple of bars in the music over and over again until my family would beg me to move on because they just couldn't listen to it any more. It could also be because the piano sat in the middle of the living room not far from the television. Yea, on second thought it could have been that. 

Lately I've been obsessed with cabochons. Tiny ones, misshaped ones, shields .... anything that can be glued and beaded around seems to be in progress and lying on my bead table. My kids like to joke with me that I think almost anything can be beaded. Perhaps. I do love a challenge. So when Karen put out a call to start a support group for UFOs, my beady friends assembled like moths to a flame. First up for me is this green glass cab that I have had sitting around for roughly 3 years. Not as old as some UFOs, but certainly time to finish. Part of my mission with completing these UFOs is to also try to use beads within my existing stash (aka no buying of new beads .... OMG did I just say that?). This necklace uses green aventurine that I've had much, much longer than 3 years.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Soothing the Soul

This piece speaks to me on so many levels. It combines a Native American look and feel with a traveler's compass. That embodies so many of the things I love. 

The first magnetic compass was invented around 200 BC during the Chinese Han Dynasty, but not really used in its traditional navigational sense until the 11th century by the Song Dynasty. Amazing just how long ago this was invented and how advanced the civilizations that used it must have been.

The last time I took some time away to bead for the weekend with Christine, she asked if we could practice fringe. Ah fringe, how I love it. I had with me two of these leather compass focals that Melinda Orr had made. I punched several holes in both of them and we got to work. One of the many things I love about beading with Christine is that we can sit, and bead, and just be. We can talk non-stop for hours, and then we can sit quietly and bead. Both are important, and both soothe the soul.

This piece actually hangs long, not quite at waist level. And when I wear it it swings and gives a bit of a musical sound with all those brass feathers. I don't keep many of the items that I make, but this one just might make the cut. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Taming the Beaded Beast

Lately, I've been packing a 'bag-o-beads' with me whenever I am away for the weekend or on vacation. I find that there is always downtime. Whether that is a lazy morning with a cup of tea or late afternoon waiting for the family to assemble for the evening. That is the perfect time for me to get lost in stitching. Just feeling the beads in my hands and relaxing.

On my recent trip to Mexico I was practicing a Cellini spiral (or as I like to call it a Bernini). There is something freeing about a stitch that has troubled you for so long; when something just clicks and it feels like you've unlocked its secrets. For this one, once I realized it was just a simple peyote stitch it no longer seemed so complicated. After I had the first couple of rows in place, I would just slip a pencil or thin pen into the center of the beadwork and follow the peyote around in a circle. 

There was one other thing that saved me many times from pulling out the beadwork. Because this is a twisted pattern (yes in oh so many ways) you can lose count on what bead size or color comes next. Just remember that the bead you are coming out of is the bead you are adding next. After that, it became a lazy stitch in my hands.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hiking the Yucatan :: Tulum

Templo del Dios del Viento
Tulum is stunning. It sits on cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is the only Mayan Ruin near the sea, and not a surprise that it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. 

The city was one of the last built by the Maya and was in its height between the 13th ad 15th centuries. Tulum survived roughly 70 years after the Spanish arrived, but the diseases the Spanish brought with them appear to have contributed to the city's downfall. The local Maya continued to visit the site to burn incense and pray through the late 20th century until tourism just overwhelmed the site.

While it is called Tulum today (meaning wall or enclosure), the Maya called it Zama meaning 'dawn' as it faced the sunrise. The name was given to the city by explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1847 when they found the abandoned ruins surrounded by a stone wall. The city served as a major port in the region connecting an extensive trade network between maritime and land routes. 

My favorite picture is of the Wind Temple. and probably the most photographed. The building is called the Templo del Dios del Viento (the temple of the god of the wind). The wind god is known as Ehecatl with his temples built as cylinders to reduce air resistance from the winds that came from all sides. Some called this deity Huracan, which is the origin for the word hurricane.

One thing that surprised me was how many iguanas we saw; they were simply everywhere. Hidden under the thatched roofs, sunning themselves on the ruins and strolling across the main courtyard. You can see the spikes that run down their spine which give them their names 'Mexican Spiny-Tailed' iguana. They seem very unnerved by all the tourists and simply just stare you down as this guy did to me. To locals they can be a bit of a nuisance as they eat plants, flowers and prey on nesting birds, small animals and sea turtle eggs. They can scare locals by lashing their tails and biting if they feel threatened. I kept my distance using a zoom to photograph him. Just in case he got testy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hiking the Yucatan :: Ek' Balam

The wild beauty of Ek' Balam is captivating. I had no idea what to expect from this place as it isn't talked about much, and we had a hard time finding it. There are next to no road signs and it was literally 'off the grid.' I had been very diligent about buying the extra GPS maps for Mexico, but it was of no help finding this location. We went by it twice and in circles for another half hour. But it was all worth it once you step through that ancient doorway.

Ek' Balam Sacbe
Somewhere between 700-1,200 BC Ek' Balam was at its height. It always strikes me when I hear how advanced the old world of the Americas was so long ago. And makes me wonder what event caused its downfall. For this site, they believe it was a siege on the city by an enemy based on the how hurried one of the city walls had been constructed and looks to be crushed.

The main pyramid of this site is considered one of the largest ever excavated in the Yucatan. Because of its low profile (and lack of wall-to-wall tourists) you are still able to climb and explore it. In my last post you will see the view from the top down the steps. Somehow I managed to take this picture from the top, but no picture of the full pyramid? Clearly I was distracted by the carvings and secret doorways. It was captivating sitting on top of this pyramid. The Mayan jungle sprawling out across the low lands and the wind cooling us off from the heat. It did have a way of transporting you to another time with only the sound of the wind and nature and no modern architecture anywhere to be seen. Thankfully, both the hubby and my oldest daughter managed to take pictures that I can share. One of the best was of the huge 'monster mouth' mid-way up the main pyramid. This is a portal to the Mayan underworld. It is hard to capture the right angle to represent the size and dominance of this doorway under the thatch roof of the pyramid. 



There is a series of sacbes, or raised 'white way' that connected the ancient Mayan Kingdom from one site to another. At the end of the road you'ld pass through an archway as you entered one of the Mayan sites. You can see the beautifully preserved one of Ek' Balam with the raised stone road that connected this site. We saw these sacbes at all the sites we visited. I could image all the travelers through the ages walking across these stones, traveling between cities, trying to make their way in the world.

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