Exploring Yucatan

I was so excited to move on from the coast to the cities. This was what I was most looking forward to in Mexico.

Leaving Tulum proved to be a little more frustrating than we originally thought. We planned on taking a colectivo to Coba, spend a couple hours there, then take another colectivo to Valladolid. After wandering around for a while, I practiced my Spanish by asking a few people where the colectivos where. Soon we found them, but it wasn’t great news. The driver pointed out that either we would have to wait for the van to fill with people, or we could pay for the empty seats. We were the only two people there. We waited for a while and still nobody was showing. We figured it would take all morning and still the possibility of no one showing up was high.

So we went with Plan B.

We marched on over to the bus station and bought tickets straight to Valladolid. I was really sad to be skipping over Coba, but the bus was more expensive than the colectivo, and by the time the bus was scheduled to get us the morning would be over – leaving us with not enough time to do Coba and still see Valladolid like I wanted. Besides, Billy made me feel better about it by reminding me that we had plenty more ruins on our list.

The bus ride was only two hours, and then we had arrived. Beautiful Valladolid!

We walked around the main squares several times during our stay here. But the first time was something special. There were a lot of stands and people lounging about in the lovely weather. I loved that a lot of the women actually wore the more traditional, beautiful floral dresses. The churches throughout Mexico are always so stately on the outside.

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I loved the quaint streets and the colorful buildings. This is the street our hostel was on.

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Our hostel was pretty nice. We shared a bedroom with another couple from Spain. We left our things behind, put on our swimsuits and headed out to the city again.

I loved how the different sections of the city varied. For example, our hostel was in a nicer part of town. We easily noticed the nice cars, the way people dressed, the quality of the homes and stores. But as we walked around we also came across areas that seemed a little more lived in.

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Our bellies were pretty hungry, so we started looking for places to eat.

And then we found the best tacos in all of Mexico.

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That’s right. They were so spicy and flavorful and every mouthful was something different and wonderful. Six tacos came to right less than $1.50. You could see the meats cooking slowly on their rotating skewers. And best of all? They were served in this place.

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I couldn’t even tell that it was a food place, let alone the best one ever. We might’ve come back later that night for another round.

After replenishing our energy, we headed to a cenote we’d heard about. Along the way we couldn’t help but enjoy the city.

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So this cenote was cool because 1. the entry fee was like a dollar each and 2. it was in the middle of the city. Kind of like a public swimming pool, but way cooler.

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To get down to it you had to climb down these windy stairs cut through stone.

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And then suddenly you’re there.

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We loved this cenote. I loved that it was so different than the Gran Cenote near Tulum. The water was pretty cold, but really refreshing since it was a pretty warm day in the city. Everyone was jumping off all the ledges and doing crazy flips into the water. Billy was really brave and jumped off the ledge to the right (not the stairs, but the ledge higher up). I don’t really enjoy jumping from high places into water, so I stayed right where I was and filmed him. After a while we realized that if you kept your feet still by the stairs, tons of little fish would come up and nibble on your feet and legs. It was really fun watching Billy giggle like a little school child due to his ticklish nature. At one point he was squirming and giggling, and with a wave of his hand he said “Stop it, guys!” to the fish. I couldn’t stop laughing. We each had 20 fish on each foot.

Eventually we climbed out of the awesome Cenote Zaci and went back to wandering the streets.

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Eventually it turned to night. We walked in a different direction of our hostel and stumbled upon another large church. There were tons of people going to church all dressed up fancy. We realized it was Ash Wednesday.

I couldn’t believe how nice the night was. I loved how safe it felt. We were cuddled up on a bench watching everything go by for a long while. There’s nothing like a cooled off night breeze after a long hot day.

Too soon we decided to head back to our hostel to get some rest.

The next morning, first on our list was Chichen Itza.

We actually found a colectivo heading there as soon as it filled up. Luckily there were already a few people in it, and it didn’t take long for a few more to amble on in. We sped through the countryside and got dropped off at our destination. Have I mentioned how much I love colectivos? They’re the best.

It was fun because on our ride over we started talking to the dude next to us. He happened to be from Australia and he’d been in Mexico for a few months already. He was great to talk to and get tips and ideas. I really admired his travel tactics – keep going for as long as he had money, or until Christmas (keep in mind this was the very beginning of March).

When we arrived we had to wait in line to purchase the tickets. I want to say those tickets cost us about $6. Not bad at all for how much we got to see.

Same as the Tulum ruins, I was anticipating the one iconic building and nothing more. I quickly realized I was wrong.

The place was massive! As soon as you walk through a bit of jungly stuff the field opens right to this:

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Our Australian friend took this picture of us.

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It was a lot of fun trying to sneak into the groups with tour guides. We didn’t want to pay (of course) so we picked up bits and pieces from passing by.

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The day was incredibly hot and dusty. On top of which we were carrying all of our things, and somehow my bag had practically everything in it. I was so ready to leave after a while, but Billy wanted to see everything. I’m glad we did because there was a lot of really amazing ruins we would have missed had we gone when I wanted.

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All of the ruins were stunning. All the hawkers were not. To get to the other areas you had to walk a fair distance across the fields, and they created narrow pathways with their tables and every single one of them yelled at you to get your attention and called you out and it got really old after a while. Especially since all one thousand of them had the exact same junk to sell. I couldn’t imagine doing this every day as a living.

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Finally Billy said we could go, so we managed to crawl through the vendors to the exit. We didn’t have to wait long until a bus came along to whisk us to Mérida.

The bus ride there was a lot of fun. We traveled through a few incredibly tiny villages that looked like they belonged thirty years ago. I loved traveling through the countryside by bus and getting to see everything. Although it took much longer.

When we pulled up to the city we walked two seconds and found ourselves in the town square. It had a lovely park and and, again, a lot of people hanging around.

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We were excited when we got to our hostel. I loved relieving my poor shoulders.

Our hostel was really nice. The nicest one we’d been to yet. I was glad we’d bought two beds at this one because we were sure they wouldn’t’ve let that fly. They were very official with bracelets and everything.

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We went back to the busier part of town and went back to a quesadilla place we’d seen earlier. It was packed, which is how I picked out every place we ate. When we arrived again, it was still really busy so I knew we’d picked a good one.

And holy wow it was amazing. Besides those tacos in Valladolid, this place was my favorite food in Mexico. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. It looks so simple and plain from the outside, but the inside is a world of spicy and robust flavor. Once again, we ate at this place a second time for dinner.

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After lunch our mouths were on fire with the best flavor ever, but we stumbled upon a McDonald’s and we had a weak moment. Billy for some reason wanted a burger (they were a dollar or something), so he somehow ate that. I got a little soft-serve ice cream cone, and it was so much better than in the states. Also it went perfectly after that scrumptious lunch. This was one of my favorite eating experiences ever.

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Walking around the city was beautiful. We got stared at a lot. There weren’t many white people around, same as Valladolid. I loved observing everything that went on. The slow culture, the bikes with three wheels that you could load things or your abuelita on the front, the way everyone tried to sell everyone else anything they could get their hands on, the bad odor followed by the delicious scent of cooking food followed right after by another nasty smell. Walking around really was one of my favorite things we did on our trip. We would walk into little stores to see everything they would be trying to sell. I hated couldn’t believe how persistent they were about selling things. It’s just their way of trying to make a living, but it often just made me leave without buying anything.

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We decided to try and find the temple. It didn’t take too long.

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Being on the temple grounds was so refreshing. It was so well taken care of, and there was such a peaceful spirit there, even just sitting in the grass. We rested there for a while.

In our wandering we came across this gigantic market. The whole open-market was inside a giant building that took up a whole block. The farther in we wandered, the more terrifying it got.

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The areas right on the inside were normal – selling a lot of fresh food and useless junk. But when we started heading in towards the center, it felt like we’d entered another realm. Everything was really dirty, it all smelled disgusting, there were random animals in nasty cages and cats lounging everywhere. There were hardly any people around, and those that were there either looked threatening or as if they had spent their entire lives in these dark recesses and they’d never seen the sun or known the outdoors. We quickly found our way out to fresh air again.

I was a little sad that the next day we’d be leaving the Yucatan Peninsula. The next afternoon we had flights to Mexico City, where it felt like a whole second trip awaited us.

But not before we woke up at our hostel and had the best free breakfast yet. We were able to leave our things there and head to another section of the city we hadn’t visited yet. At first I liked how nice everything was, but then it all felt kind of fake and weird. We had walked pretty far, so we stopped at a busy place for lunch.

We saw a large area with several tables with cute umbrellas above them. I figured it had to be good by the amount of people, but we weren’t expecting that the area had several different food places, kinda like a food court, but outside and family owned restaurants. It was a little overwhelming because six different people walked up to us and shoved menus in our faces, trying to beat out the others. Eventually we picked one, and I don’t think it was the most popular.

The food was pretty tasty. We ordered several different small things to get a good sampling of what they had to offer. Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure something we ate here is what gave us the worst case of upset tummies of our lives. But we didn’t know about that until we’d flown to our next adventure – Mexico City.

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