Having spent an entire year visiting temples and monuments, I wanted Mexico to be about the beach and my daughter who was coming over to spend 5 weeks with me. We did however, manage to do a bit culture during our first week here.
Merida is a charming, colonial town with a lot of flavour. Brightly coloured, low houses with wrought iron windows so reminiscent of houses in Spain. The Lucas de Galvez market was interesting and the top floor houses clothes and handicrafts. As it is low season the vendors practically throw themselves at you in the hope you will buy something. The cathedral is in a pretty square with a park, a place for all the locals to hang out on a Saturday morning. Best of all, there was a fantastic local bar with music near our hotel and we visited it a couple of times during our two days there.
For so many years I had wanted to see Chichen Itza and often when that is the case you are bound to be disappointed. I was not disappointed but I was expecting something bigger. I had only ever seen it on photograph and I thought the main pyramid was small. Having said that, it is beautifully preserved and we were fortunate there were only a couple other people admiring it so we explored the entire area and many ruins at our leisure…We arrived there at 8.30 am just as it opens and managed to see it all in total peace as not only there were hardly any other tourists at that time but the vendors were setting up their tables. I have never seen anything like it. Normally the vendors are lined outside the monument or point of interest. Here, they are allowed inside the compound and I can only imagine the nightmare it must be moving from ruin to ruin being harassed to buy something every few steps. And yes, we felt a little smug at the number of buses arriving as we were leaving, imagining walking the compound for two or three hours with the crowds in the fierce sun and heat.
Valladolid is a smaller version of Merida. A sweet, colonial town with a pretty main square with San Gervasio’s cathedral. On Sunday evening a band played on the square and all the locals were out dancing. Great to see young and old alike having fun. The highlight of Valladolid was visiting a cenote. A cenote is a natural swimming hole, some are in the open air and others underground. We visited the one at Dzitnup called Samula. A little disconcerting to step down into a dark cave to go swimming but a truly amazing experience.
And now, enough culture. Beach here we come!