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Published: September 24th 2019
I was keen to get to Valladolid and begin exploring the “real” Mexico rather than the heavily touristy version found along the Riviera Maya. So I was a little disappointed to find that Valladolid is more like a Spanish town than most Spanish towns. It's made up of these beautiful little streets with coloured houses. It's got a very sleepy feel to it. There seems to be quite a lot of ex-pats there who own little coffee shops giving the town a hipster feel. Something which was confirmed when I saw a “concept store”, what the fuck is a concept store?!
Valladolid is ideally located to Chichen Itza, and is surrounded by lots of cenotes. I met a few people there and my first night happened to be one of their birthdays, so of course Tequila was involved. If anyone at home has seen me drink Tequila they'll have definitely laughed at the face I pull. Truly one of the worst drinks on the face of the earth....when It's in Europe. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that in Mexico it's genuinely delicious.
The night of drinking naturally ensured an early getup to visit Chichen Itza wasn't going to happen. So we spent the day visiting some nearby Cenotes and mostly recovering. The next day we set off to visit Ek Balam, another Mayan site in the area. The site itself I thought was overpriced, being slightly less than Chichen but much smaller. The pyramid was around 30M high so it was a fairly big one, and the view from the top was stunning. Jungle as far as the eye could see in every direction. We'd arrived early and had the site mostly to ourselves.
What turned out to be my second favourite cenote was just 2km away from Ek Balam. We had the whole cenote to ourselves for well over an hour, which is the best way to enjoy a cenote because screaming kids take away much of the tranquillity, as they do everywhere. The cenote is around 80M deep and looking down with a snorkel mask takes your breath away, before you remember you're in water and won't fall to the bottom.
My visit to Chichen Itza was something I'd been looking forward to and one of the main reasons I was visiting Mexico in the first place. I'd heard mixed reviews from the people I'd met, some saying it was OK and others that it was underwhelming. While I can understand the fact you can no longer climb on any of the buildings there making it underwhelming, the fact I couldn't get close to the carvings and really get a feel for the place was frustrating, it's certainly worth visiting contrary to what I was told. The site itself is huge. While not as detailed as other ancient structures I've seen In Asia or Egypt the shear size of the buildings is what's impressive.
On the Sunday the town was setting up for the Mexican independence day celebrations (independence from Spain). I was looking forward to this and expected a huge party. I was sadly let down, Valladolid does not know how to party. Everyone went home just after 11!. I'm really glad I didn't go to the effort of getting a t-shirt printed with “Fuck Spain” across the front, and some kind of pole with a picture of Cortez (the conquistador who took Mexico) on the top as if he was on a spike.
On the last day I visited a cenote which I'd visited a few days previous. This turned out to be my favourite. The perfect mixture of crazy and calm. We spent around three hours swimming, snorkelling, admiring and mostly swinging in off the rope swing.
After some days waiting around for the arrival of a bank card I was ready to head for the next stop, Merida.
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