After spending a week and a half on the gorgeous Riviera Maya, it was time for us to head inland to the charming city of Valladolid, located in almost the center of the Yucatan peninsula. We arrived into Valladolid’s ADO bus station, where we stepped out into temperatures nearing 100 degrees, and walked 5 blocks to our hotel, El Meson del Marques, which was beautiful and had a great restaurant. As we made our way to the hotel, I was instantly struck by the narrow streets, old buildings, and the Mayan people watching us pass by with interest. We were definitely not in a touristy place, and I was delighted! Cars and taxis raced passed us on the narrow roads, along with many motorbikes.
Many of the woman, young and old, wore the traditional white, cotton shirts with brightly embroidered flowers. The men wore a very lightweight, and surprisingly long sleeve, button down shirts and hats to shade their skin.
Our hotel was near the Plaza, or the town square, which spanned one city block and was surrounded by hotels, restaurants, shops, and the Cathedral of San Gervacio. There were a few food stands, including ice cream, and the local speciality, Marquesitas, a Mayan Crepe filled with cheese or a variety of other fillings, including strawberries.
We happened to arrive in Valladolid at the beginning of a weeklong stretch of temperatures hovering between 102 to 105 degrees. Due to the extreme in temperatures, we changed around our itinerary slightly to accommodate for early touring, a long break during the heat of the afternoon, and then an evening stroll when it finally cooled down slightly. That didn’t happen until around 8pm, and even that wasn’t exactly “cool.”
After the sun began to set one evening, we ventured out to walk to the Church and former Convent of San Bernardino, built in the 1500’s. The nice cobblestoned streets along the way appeared better maintained than in other parts of the city. This was such a unique and colorful area to walk along.
The park alongside the Convent had the colorful Valladolid letters. We took the obligatory tourist picture, marveled at the large trees, and made it to the Convent right around dusk.
We paid a small fee to enter, and gave ourselves a tour of the practically vacant building. The church was nicely decorated, but the rest of the building was very sparsely decorated and quite eerie. We noticed someone coming down the stairs of the poorly lit balcony and only the boys ventured up to check it out.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Cacao Valladolid, a chocolate store and former factory, where short tours are given. The chocolate making portion of the store has recently been moved to Merida, but we were given a nice tour nonetheless, with samples of the chocolate at the end.
We walked to Cenote Zaci the next morning, which was only a few blocks from our hotel, and located right in middle of the city of Valladolid. The cenote was partially opened, and visible from one side of the street. We had to pay a few pesos to enter, and walk down a stairway to gain access to the cenote.
At the first landing, we were able to see the stagmalates hanging down and a series of more steps to take you to the bottom. The water was not clear like the cenotes we had experienced near Tulum. It did not stop people from swimming in it anyway. There was a very high, open cliff on one side, where a few braves souls were taking turn jumping into the water.
The market had fresh meat hanging on stalls, clothes, breads, sweets, and anything else you’d expect to see. We tried some of the local specialty foods, chalupas, panuchos and tortas with pork. The four of us ate lunch for the equivalent of $7usd. We really enjoyed this part of the trip, venturing out from the tourist area.