Page 1: Valladolid,
Yucatan, January 18 - 22
an account of our bicycle tour in the Yucatan and Chiapas in 2011,
followed by some additional travel not by bike in
Oaxaca and Chiapas, and on Isla Mujeres. We got off to a shaky
start. We departed from Boston's Logan Airport on January 17,
bound for Cancun, but the first leg of our flight, to Miami, was
cancelled with no explanation. We were rerouted to JFK, arriving
in Cancun much later than we'd planned. Buses had stopped running,
so we had to pay extra for a shuttle to reach our hostel.
drove us through the hotel zone along the beach, and though it
was night, we could see quite a lot. What we saw, we didn't like
at all. It made us think of Las Vegas, though we've never been
there and don't want to go!
Our hostel in Cancun, Mundo Joven
(above) was friendly and quite modern, with a roof-top plunge
pool, communal kitchen, bar, and hammock area. The staff was friendly,
everything was clean, and the included breakfast was good. As
advertised, the hostel was close to the bus station, so at 11
a.m. we were on our way to Valladolid, about a 2 1/2 hour ride.
We like the hostal where we are
staying in Valladolid (below). In fact, it reminds us of why we
usually prefer staying in hostels to hotels or motels. It's the
people. Here, for example, there has been a great mix of ages,
and the guests we've met have been from Spain, France, Belgium,
Sweden, Canada, Holland, and Japan. We've seen only two other
Americans the entire five nights we've been here.
Above left is the hostel from outside (on a small park)
and above, right, is the outdoor, communal kitchen.
The staircase at right went to our room. Barbara liked
the cheerily painted steps and the plants. Throughout
the gardens of Hostal la Calendaria, there were more little
touches that showed the care and creativity of the couple
who run it.
When we unpacked the bikes there was trouble!
One of the suitcases had been seriously smashed and one of the
bikes was damaged. A front fork dropout was bent, and a bearing
cartridge had been driven part way out of the hub. It took force,
and a hammer, to set things right, and it took all day.
After a great deal of fussing, the bikes were fit to be
ridden first just a few kilometers around town.
Then, on Thursday the 21st, we enjoyed our first real
ride. We passed through the small town of Temozon (left)
on the way to the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam (below). Ek
Balam was fairly quiet and quite beautiful, though not
on the scale of Palenque.
The large pyramid, left above, is partly covered
by palapa roofs that protect the extraordinarily well-preserved
statues and frescos (right above) that are a highlight of Ek Balam
Adjoining Ek Balaam, there is a cenote
a limestone sinkhole (ugly word) that is wonderful for
swimming. We visited, of course, and enjoyed it very much.
On the right, Barbara is riding down the 2-kilometer dirt
lane on the way to the cenote our very first experience
off pavement on our new and rather tricky bikes.
Cenotes are a big subject in themselves. As
we understand it, there are few lakes or rivers in much of the
Yucatan, but there is a fairly abundant supply of subsurface water
in limestone caves and underground rivers. An underground pool
is a cenote - though sometimes the roof collapses, and
the cenote is open to the sky (which we prefer.) Below
left is the cenote at Ed Balam. Below right is a the cenote
called Samula, just a few kilometers from Valladolid. We cycled
there on Friday, with Henrick, a young Swedish guy. It was the
underground type of cenote that we like less, but it was
still a fun and cooling experience. The long tree roots hang through
a hole in the cavern's roof, reaching all the way down to the
Today, Saturday the 22nd, is our last day in
Valladolid. We had an appointment to visit Casa de los Venados
this morning.. It is a truly remarkable place, a 400-year-old
mansion beautifully restored and modernized by an American collector
of Mexican handicrafts. He and his wife have turned this incredible
home into a museum of fine, traditional handicrafts and art, and
tours are offered. The home is also available for upscale dinners
and meetings. (Last night, the governor of Yucatan was there with
100 dinner guests.) We have read that it may be the best collection
of traditional crafts in the country, and the house itself has
won national and international architectural awards.
John Venator (below) tells Barbara about
an incredible fresco that extends all the way to the 24-foot
ceiling in the entry to Casa de los Venados (right). He
often takes guests on personal tours. He uses this remarkable
home/museum to earn money which he then gives away to
charities that serve the poor, both here in Mexico and
in Chicago. I can't write enough about this extraordinary
place. Click here to visit another website with more details
about Casa de los Venados.
We ended up staying in Valladolid for five days,
much longer than we planned, but we're glad that we did. It's
a safe, quiet, clean colonial town, a fine place to relax and
get organized. Below left, the Church of San Gervasio on the zocalo
central plaza at the heart of the historic district.
Below right, on the zocalo at night.
Coming next: Chichen Itza and on to Merida
| 2 | 3
| 4 | 5
| 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12