Wanda Smith Travelouge
After hearing her eloquent description of the train staff one afternoon on
this train adventure,
I asked fellow adventurer, Wanda Smith, for some words from her hand that
put in this report. She obliged with these excellent observations:
"Traveling with good friends has always been a special pleasure for me
when one of my dearest friends suggested we take off on a train adventure
through the Yucatan Peninsula, I never hesitated. Our destinations centered
on many of the historical archeological sites of the Mayans and extended
from the jungles at Palenque to the sea at Campeche and on to Merida. It
seemed like the ideal combination--warm weather in mid-January, a chance
see never-before-explored countryside from a train, and an opportunity to
walk the paths of an ancient people that have always fascinated me. It was
all that and more.
There were moments on the Maya Expresso that I just had to pinch myself to
believe it wasn't a dream. The train itself is beautifully restored and the
parlor car, our location for most of the trip, was incredible--beautiful
murals on all the surrounding walls of jungle vegetation and animals all
done in soft, muted tones reminiscent of the 30's or 40's. The space was
open and airy and large windows allowed you to look across the
landscape--looking at Brahman bulls or thatched huts or little children
waving at every crossing. Though not a photographer--thank heavens for
Carl--I have the most beautiful mind pictures that can bring a smile to my
lips at any thought of them.
What really made the trip, though, as with most things I've enjoyed in life,
were the people. Our traveling companions were all just terrific--admittedly
the luck of the draw on an organized tour--and we came up very big winners.
It really felt like traveling with friends and family--all laughing
together, looking out for one another, genuinely enjoying one another's
company. Parting at the end of the trip brought back that wistful feeling
remembered from camp as a kid--having to leave new-found friends and knowing
paths would most likely not cross again--or at least not soon.
And then there was the crew on board the train--what a wonderful group of
men. Each and every one of them served us with so much care and friendliness
and sweetness. I have never felt so pampered. We were treated to three meals
a day, all beautifully prepared and presented. They had coffee ready early
for we caffeine-addicted. They blended margaritas, chilled beers,
hand-squeezed juices and all with smiles and a willingness to laugh and
interact with us that made the trip very personal and unique. They answered
our nosy questions about their families and lives and let us get to know
them a bit. It was another wistful good-bye to leave the train.
When we arrived at a Mayan site, we would be led by a nationally licensed
guide. These men were incredibly knowledgeable. Most of them had spent their
adult lives studying the Mayan people and their civilization. They added
such a richness to the tour. They brought the places to life. I only wish
had had more time to talk with them. They did a great job of condensing
their presentations for our walks of the areas but I could have spent hours
more hearing details not shared.
Sue Stilwell of S&S Tours did a wonderful job of putting together a trip
that combined education and fun and trains and a chance to experience some
of the Mexican culture. It was the best!"
Thank you Wanda, your trip reports are welcome at TrainWeb any time.