Walking through the central square in Valladolid to get to our accommodation was a nice change of scenery from Tulum, and not just because the temperature was more pleasant.
While downtown Tulum had a highway running through the main street, quiet Valladolid was a peaceful oasis. The cute pastel coloured shopfronts caught our eyes, and the run down cathedral in the central square made the town look like something out of a Disney movie.
Checking in, and checking it out
We managed to find our way to our accommodation, Casa Moo (yes, you read that right), depsite a lack of signage, and dropped our bags in our spacious room, before heading straight out to see the town and grab some lunch. We grabbed a bite at a local food court, before wandering through and around the central streets, and back through Plaza de Parque Francisco Canton and past Catedral de San Servasio.
As we passed the cathedral, the heavens opened (hard to take that as a good sign...), so we made a break for home, and spent the afternoon sheltering from the thunderstorm. Luckily, the rain broke long enough for us to indulge in an average meal near the main plaza, before heading home to bed, in anticipation of an early start the next morning.
Sure enough, we were up bright and early, and down at the collectivo (shared taxi) station by 0715am. Within 15 minutes, we were full enough to hit the road, with three other tourists and some locals on their way to work. After a couple of pick ups and drop offs, we arrived at the gate not long after the opening time of 0800am.
Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities, and as a result is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. As we'd hoped, there were hardly any cars in the carpark, and no queue to get in.
As you enter the site, the first feature you come across is El Castillo, a huge 30m high step pyramid in the middle of a field. By arriving so early in the day, the place was practically deserted, and we were able to see and photograph it without lots of other people around.
Temple of the Warriors
Immediately behind El Castillo was the Temple of Warriors, a smaller stepped pyramid with carved columns depicting warriors in front.
Group of a Thousand Columns and El Mercado
Behind the Temple of the Warriors are the remains of a huge covered walkway linking the temple to the market.
This elaborately carved structure was called 'The Nunnery', but apparently was a governmental palace.
The Great Ball Court
This is the largest and best preserved ball court in Mesoamerica. While the rules of the game are not known, it is thought that it was similar to squash, where the aim is to keep the ball (possibly made of vines covered with some kind of latex or rubber) in play. Some modern theories suggest that the ball was hit with the hips, although some versions used arms, bats, or racquets.
The Sacred Cenote was a place of pilgrimage for ancient Mayans, where they would perform sacrifices during times of drought. Grim.
By the time we were done exploring, it was mid-morning, and the day was heating up. The crowds had well and truly arrived, and there was no solitude to be found in the park. We headed back to the carpark and jumped into a collectivo back to town, had showers, and a quick nap, before heading out to Moroni's for a delicious pizza lunch. I wasn't feeling too great, gastrointestinally, so we got leftover to take home, thinking that we probably wouldn't be going out for dinner.
Sadly my predictions came true, and things didn't improve much over the next 24 hours... The next morning, we climbed onto the bus to our next destination, Merida, grateful that there was a toilet on the bus in case of emergencies...
Lots of love,
S & Z