We recently went to Izamal, it was our first time.
What a fascinating area. There are so many things to see and do; There are quite a few arqueological ruins, the incredible Convent of San Antonio de Padua, the beautiful all yellow historic center, The Arts and Cultural center, the incredible people, and the artists and craftsmen.
Rather than try to cover the entire day I want in this blog to introduce jeweler Esteban Abán Montejo. He is a proud Maya artist of jewelry made from cocoyol, and henequin.
His workshop and storefront are called “La flor del cocoyol, Lol-Tuk”.
The jewelry workshop was particularly interesting but be prepared - don Esteban will regale you with demonstrations of how the materials are prepared for jewelry production, he will entertain you with songs in Maya, and spend quite a while talking about Mayan language, Mayan culture, and Mayan people. He is an effervescent man with boundless energy, enthusiasm, and a great pride in his culture and heritage, AND he and his apprentices make some beautiful jewelry.
The cocoyol seeds are buried or piled in a mound for 14 years while they breakdown from their protective covering They are then harvested, polished, drilled, and graded for various pieces of jewelry.
The part of the henequin used are the spines; which are harvested one by one, drilled, cut, shaped, and polished.
This link goes to a story about don Esteban in the Diario from August 2008 http://www.yucatan.com.mx/noticia.asp?cx=51$1401011700$3889608&f=20080817
in spanish of course.
It was a great day. But a long day, and we still didn't see everything we had planned for the day. Even though the trip is only about an hour outside Merida, I'd like to go back and spend the night. It would be really great to visit ruins in the morning, along with the Convent, have a leasurely lunch and siesta, visit a few artists, and then enjoy the center in the evening and visit with the people of Izamal, then visit Chapels, and more artists and craftspeople the next day. We were plum tuckered out by the time we got back.