May 11, 2014 by kimberlyfenton
The journey started with a 5am wake up call thanks to my state of the art Nokia phone with the alarm tone that will constantly haunt you throughout the day… “la hora es 5” “la hora es 5”
I spent the bus journey reading my Kindle for the first time since arriving in Cancun… and I managed to finish the book by the end of the day, after our morning and nightime bus rides. Valladolid was our first destination, the mid point between Merida and Cancun. We arrived in time for breakfast, and spent some time having a look around the market where we were treated to the sight of pigs heads hanging up with blood dripping from their noses and full bodies of featherless chickens, all made perfect with the flies jumping from one animal to the next. Thoughts entered my mind as to whether this was how all the meat in restaurants started off life, and the rumbles of my recovering sensitive stomach seemed to agree.
This trip was organised by the amazing Professors of Tourism for their students (they are so cool, drinking with us and having fun, wish English lecturers were like that) and so as part of their course they had arranged a “Rally” in which the different coloured teams had to compete in finding certain tourist destinations and provide photographic evidence… hence the impending boom of photos on my facebook. Our first task involved running around with a policeman to find the Cenote Zaci. This Cenote was, again, so impressive yet completely different to the one I visited in Playa del Carmen. It was at the bottom of a steep cliff/cave with lots of bats flying in and out. The water was a nice shade of blue, but didn’t look as appealing to swim in as the ones in Quintana Roo.
Next stop was another Cenote, Cenote X’Canche which was within Ek Balam, just a 15 minute journey from the ruins to the restaurant right next to the Cenote. The walk was long as we were all starving. We arrived to be told that lunch would be ready in 20 minutes, of course this is Mexico, so we all went to check out the Cenote. I didn’t have my swim clothes, but the Tarzan-like jump rope off the cliff and into the water was just too tempting to resist… so I stripped off my shorts and kept my top on (like a respectable lady…) and jumped straight in! The water is so refreshing and it was a good decision, until I had to sit in wet underwear all of lunch/journey to the campsite. The campsite was amazing, right next to another Cenote which was so deep we couldn’t see it as the sun was starting to go down. There was a grass area where we set up our tents, around 15 of them, outdo or eating area next to the kitchen, and an alberca, which is the Mexican name for a swimming pool! Dinner was served and marked the start of a weekend full of panuchos, salbutes and empañadas. The very thing that gave me Revancha. Oh well, my body was already inside out so I just embraced it.
Chichen Itza, one of the Wonders of the World/Maravillosa del Mundo! Wow. So impressive to see in real life! The main pyramid was incredible and there were other ruins and cenotes surrounding it to visit, although the cenote is not really worth the visit… Two times a year the light from the sun will hit the ruins in such a way that it appears like the serpents are coming down the stairs. How incredible is that?! Such an amazing thing to see, the first sighting of so many tourists in one place. Crazy to hear another English accent! Here I bought a Mayan Calender bed sheet… standard me buying stupid things, but this is a beauty!
Izamal is a hidden beauty; a pretty little city which we explored on a horse and carraige, and the majority of the buildings were painted bright yellow which added a nice feel to the place. Explored the museum and church in the centre of the plaza and then we laid down under the Mexican flag and I was mesmorized by the clouds.
Uxmal was our next destination, another archeological zone and this was my favourite. There were loads of ruins to explore and at the main pyramid at the front you can clap your hands and you will hear an echo from inside the pyramid which sounds like an animal. Pretty views and pretty ruins yet again!
Grutas de Loltun, much more impressive than the other caves, much bigger, with more to talk about, such as the handprints on the wall, and took an hour to explore.
Finished the day with a visit to another Cenote. After a terrifying journey down a single country lane whilst in this big coach, forcing cars to steer into the greenery to allow us to pass, we arrived starving and ready for more salbutes and panuchos, a desperate purchase. This time there were 3 Cenotes all linked together by the single most bizarre form of transport I have EVER seen. A railway track, with a cart, and a horse attached to a man holding the reins. Bizarre. All we could keep saying on this 9km journey was “Vamos a Morir” which means “We’re going to dieeeee.” The only thing keeping us on the track was a piece of string above our heads to hold onto, during this bumpy journey with unexpected turns and increases in speed. Crazy. The Cenote we visited was hidden under ground with just one hole and ladders sticking out of the top. Vertical ladder and you could not see the bottom. I climbed down to the bottom to see darkness with the Cenote lit up by one hole in the ground above, with the last bit of sunrays illuminating the clear, bright blue water. Incredible! I changed into my bikini underground in the darkness, flashing the unknowing two people who were already down there, and jumped in. So refreshing again, and in the most amazing setting.
Another night of little sleep, and we awoke sheepishly for our last day in Merida. We had around 2 hours to explore the city by foot, and I saw some free art museums, briefly stepped into the church and had a wander around the market. Boiling hot day again! One of the girls bought some insects from a man selling them from a tub in the street. Absolutely mental. Insects covered in salt, chilli, and lime… of course they were, we were in Mexico! Anything that you cover in salt, chilli and lime is edible apparently. They tried to force me, the squeamish English girl to try it, and I tried to refuse. They succeeded. With my Arizona Mucho Mango iced tea ready in my hand, some cheering Mexicans, and an insect with the eyes staring at me, I shoved it in my mouth and crunched its brain. Ew. Then we travelled on our version of the Red Double Decker Tourist Buses, La Gua Gua, around the city.
The trip was finished with a visit to this really cool restaurant, called El Truncho, where there was a live band and decorations. The waiters continued bringing us small dishes to our tables, such as tacos, empañadas, nachos and spaghetti which we all enjoyed on top of our meals.
I have seen so much in one long weekend, so I tried to keep the explanations brief in the hope that you are still reading up to this point! The Yucatan Peninsula is simply amazing and so different to anything that I’ve ever seen before. Breathtaking beauty.