Why did we come to Valladolid?
Well, Chichen Itza of course!
True, I have no data to back this up, but with Teotihuacan being Mexico’s most visited archaeological site, with the amount of people that enter Mexico through Cancun and with the corny tag it now has as one of the new ‘7 Wonders of the World’, it must be close to number 2 on that list.
So this was to be our base, and with our first hostel booked out, we settled on the Hostel del Fraile… at least it was close to the bus station!
The first night, having gotten in late and with early plans for the morning, it ended up being a night of pizza then bed (at least we kept the theme Mexican with an Al Pastor pizza).
The early rise was with a purpose, as we got right into things and made our way out to Chichen Itza (hoping to beat the crowds), but we’ll cover those adventures later.
By early afternoon we were back, ready to find something to do in Valladolid itself.
On arrival at our hostel, the staff member at reception had run us quickly through some of the sights of the town, one of which, the Templo de San Benardino & Convento de Sisal sounded particularly interesting.
This was just another church and adjoining convent, but what sounded especially interesting about this one, was it had been built over the top of not one, but two cenotes.
Just in case you’re not familiar with what a cenote is, it’s basically a pit (or sinkhole) formed when the limestone collapses revealing the fresh waters underneath (apparently of the 6,000 known cenotes worldwide, 2,500 can be found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula).
As you can imagine, this church therefore sounded pretty cool indeed.
It took us a little by surprise, but there was an entrance fee to the church, so we stumped up the pesos and in we went.
I’ll start by saying it was a pretty nice convent/church combination, with many lovely areas for us to explore, and explore we did. In fact we probably wandered for over half an hour, eventually becoming a little exasperated as no cenote appeared to wow us with its turquoise blue waters.
Eventually, a little unsure of what door we kept missing, we interrupted a poor gentleman who was on lunch (thankfully for us he was an English speaker), hopefully to discover where these cenotes lay hidden.
Turns out hidden is where they will remain, as you can’t actually get access to them!
Talk about disappointment (not to mention a little false advertising)…
There are a couple of other cenotes in, or at least very close to town that we neglected to explore, instead on our second day making a day trip of it out to the ruins of Ek’ Balam and the X’Canche cenote (again, more on that a little later).
Our return from the ruins was timed a little too perfectly to coincide with the arrival of the afternoon rains, and we still had a grocery and beer shop to complete!
We toyed with the idea of finding cover somewhere, or even returning to our hostel for some time, but with these rains, one never really knows when they might end.
We ran the gauntlet, through the highest pressure shower we’ve had on this trip (that includes any bathroom variety as well), but now had beer and food to show for our efforts.
This would hopefully help us in our efforts to pass an afternoon and night in a hostel in which we no longer had a bed.
You see, that very night we had a bus to catch, in fact it was actually 03:00 the following morning, but our hostel was kind enough to let us loiter, long after we had actually checked out.
A gesture very much appreciated by us!
This gesture, a few of the fellow travelers we met there and their pool/billiards table were however probably the highlights of this particular hostel which was run in a rather odd manner.
The dorms (at least ours in any case) seemed to lack sufficient pillows to all of the beds (possibly because if anybody occupied those particular beds, the threadbare sheets may tear), and as I settled in to bed on our first night, it was with more than just a little surprise that the guy from reception sauntered in and promptly found a bunk for himself.
Whether he was the manager or owner, we’re unsure, however there was also a rather portly English speaking man who seemed to appear each afternoon or evening trying to entice guests to go our drinking with him, or offering massages.
It was odd enough that one Swiss girl, having already paid, grabbed her bags and simply left the hostel!
Having stretched the grace of the hostel as far as we felt was reasonable, we ambled out at about 11pm, found a bench within the bus station, and settled down to wait out our last 4 hours in Valladolid…
* To enter the Templo de San Benardino & Convento de Sisal, cost us $30.00 pesos per person.
* Our 2nd class bus from Merida to Valladolid may have taken an extra hour (which due to heavy rains, was likely over an hour and a half), but it did save us about $70.00 pesos per person as opposed to the $176.00 peso 1st class ADO fare.