Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Yucatan Was Built on This

This is henequen, a fiborous plant in the agave family. It's fibers are used to make rope. Sometimes its confused with hemp, the difference being you can't smoke henequen.

Even so, it's commercial value was exploited on a massive scale in the 19th century, with the Yucatan being an ideal land for its cultivation. At one point, the Yucatan peninsula produced over 90% of rope and burlap bags in the world! It also made henequen plantation owners very, very rich. The multi-millionaires of Mexico weren't only silver barons. The life of privilege, lived in a European style, is still apparent in the handsome haciendas and mansions in Merida and surrounding countryside.

All that from a little rope. Who'd guess?