As a jumping off spot to a few Mayan Ruin sites and Cenotes, Valladolid is a decent place to start. It is located half way between Cancun and Merida, about 2 hours on the ADO bus. I found it a decent stopover for 4 days. Anything more that that would have been nothing but pub time at the St Patricks
. but I digress. I am not much for google or trip adviser reviews as they really are subjective. I did like the stories and videos from other travelers blogs. So Valladolid it was.
A sure sign of a growing town is road construction and this town was getting it done. Roads were being updated all around the centre part of town (El Centro). The upside was that it was keeping what little traffic there was at bay. Many streets were short term de facto walking malls, without all the popup stalls.
|Just a Weird Disc|
|Calzada de los Frailes ||
|Late Night Street Food|
|Ladies cooking great Street Food||
The Centro is rustic colonial and a bit weathered which was nice. Having been to quite a few Mexican Colonial towns that are spit and polish updated. I liked the rustic look and feel. There is a free walking tour of the town, which is common in many Latin America towns. It is a fun way to get orientated and the guide did have a pretty good information. Included was something I would have never even thought about. Over 75% of the people in the town still spoke Mayan and some it was their first and only language. Considering they flourished in 2000 BCE (Before Common Era) some 4000 years ago it is pretty impressive. They Mayan era ended about 900 CE (Common Era). This is definitely not to be confused with the Aztecs who lived and flourish around 1300 to 1521 BCE. Here is a link showing the comparisons of both cultures.
At the turn of the century there were only 2 hotels and a few run down hostels. Valladolid was not on the Gringo Trail. Tourists stayed in Cancun or Playa. It was just a stop over, to try and sell souvenirs, on the way from Cancun to Chitzen Itza. During the walking tour and when this was explained to me, I suddenly flashed back to around 1983. I was working for Disney Epcot and had travelled to Cancun for the first time. Our little group did take a bus tour to Chitzen Itza and we made a stop along the way. I never knew what the town was that we did stop at, but it must have been Valladolid. My personal circle of travel life. The city has been steadily growing and its proof is in the number of modernish hotels and other accommodations....and the roads, lets not forget those new roads.
AtrapaSueños, which means Dream Catcher, was as good as any any place and 4 nights cost me $75. It was clean, safe and had lots of hot water which is a must. That may seem odd but depending on the town, the area and even the time of year, hot water is not always available, and cold showers suck! You never ever get used to them. There were only 3 rooms and the manager was friendly and chatty which was fine as I need to keep practicing my Spanish. I also did not hear a dog or rooster the entire time I was there, so win win.
One of the main draws is Cenote Zaci in the centre of of town. My hostel was a 10 minute walk and I passed it on the way from the bus terminal. This was my initial introduction to said street construction. It looked abandoned as I passed but this is Mexico, everything can look abandoned. Alas, upon my return it was closed to the public due to the construction. The restaurant was open so I popped in for lunch and took a few photos. Cenotes are really beautiful and their significance can not be understated. The theory is that the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago, the Chicxulub impactor plowed into the Yucatan. Sure it killed most things on the planet but the bits and pieces smashed down and the Ring of Cenotes were created as result of that meteor. There is more science involved including the rock in the area being limestone and very porous. The result is you will not find any major rivers in and around the Yucatan, they are all underground making the cenotes a major water source during Mayan Times.
My time here was rather uneventful. I took a day tour to the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam. I wandered around the town exploring side streets and various historical areas and spent time at a fairly new Irish Pub, The St. Patrick's, located 2 blocks from the main Zocolo. Daniel the bartender was a friendly guy who told me epic tails of his time working along the beach strip in Cancun. "All inclusive tourists really are dumb and easy to exploit because they think we are all very poor". There were a few expats (I forget their names) who called me over to sit with them. A Canadian from Ottawa, USA dude from Jacksonville Fla. and a Brit from London who has been here for about 30 years. From the moment I sat down the Canadian pestered the guy from the USA about US Military History and American politics in general. When the American guy justified that any country that the United State ever invaded deserved it, that was my signal to scram and I did a Speedy Gonzales. I ran into them the few times back to the pub but the conversation constantly turned to US politics. I just put myself on mute.
|Daytime City Sign and Convent|
|Nighttime City Sign and Convent|
|Hidden Little Coffee Shop|
|So Many Flavours and Colors|
|Town Square with Fountain|
I wandered the cobbled streets and discovered interesting little coffee shops and very good restaurants. A walk down Calzada de los Frailes takes you from the centre of Valladolid to the convent of San Bernardino di Siena. The fountain in the centre of the Zocolo is a main attraction and having lunch in the park watching the world go by is as interesting as it is relaxing. I tried to let my mind wander back 4000 years to Mayan times, but since I have a hard time remembering what I had for lunch yesterday, I just kept my time machine in the present.
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