It’s easy to think that the day following a trip to Chichen Itza would, or could be an anti-climax.
As such, we didn’t put too much expectation on it, but rather thought an excursion out to Ek’ Balam would at least be more eventful than just basking in the afterglow of what had been a pretty awesome experience.
Rising nowhere near as early, we took our time on this particular day, not really envisioning there’d be the crowds here that we’d been fighting to avoid the previous day.
So we went wandering, looking for the colectivo to take us out to the site, but none were to be found. During this time we politely declined several offers for a trip out there from a myriad of taxi drivers… turns out, that in this case they’re ‘colectivo taxis’!
So maybe 30 minutes later we were paying our entrance fees and strolling in as a surprisingly large tour group waltzed out.
It was another decent first impression, and again, we made sure our expectations were lowered in any case.
A bit of wandering and climbing ensued, actually giving us some pretty good views of the surrounding site.
Surprisingly, after becoming a little worried by the amount of other visitors when we’d first arrived, once they departed, until another couple arrived (actually from our same hostel), we had the run of the place to ourselves.
A very compact site, I realise now that I have exaggerated slightly when I say we had the place to ourselves. There were a number of workers labouring away on restoration projects, not to mention a decent population of lazing dogs!
The final part of the site we visited, was also its most impressive (talk about saving the best til last), the Acropolis!
It sheltered some incredible carvings on the stucco facade, whilst an ascent up its grandiose steps gave me a view similar to what I expect we will see in Guatemala’s Tikal.
Our time here completed, it was almost on a last minute whim we decided to go and check out the nearby X’Canche Cenote, so we paid the additional fee and began the couple of kilometre walk.
Thankfully there was some shade, as it was still a hot day, and unfortunately we had neglected to bring any swimming attire (what were we going to need it for?)…
Well when we finally got close to the cenote (where it was oddly silent) we discovered immediately what our swimming gear would have been useful for!
As we arrived, a lone sentinel emerged from a small hut, asked to see our tickets as well as enter our names in a log book.
Incredibly, we were the first visitors for the day!
We clambered down the provided wooden stairway so we could better check out this deep hole and its incredibly coloured waters.
Lathered in sweat by now, we assessed the situation quickly and decided a quick dip in our underwear was well in order.
The water was incredibly cold for such a hot day and somewhat surprisingly, ticklish!
That’s a correct statement, as the waters weren’t technically there just for Sarah and I to enjoy, but was also laden with catfish in all manner of sizes. It was their drooping barbels tickling the skin on entry.
The relief felt from this little indulgence was wonderful.
The cenote was in fact the highlight of our journey trumping the decent, but not as exciting Ek’ Balam.
True, it was never a fair fight, as our first real cenote experience, especially one as impromptu as this, was always likely to win against another set of ruins (especially the day after Chichen Itza).
The dip also made the stroll back to the main carpark much more pleasurable, as we had at least managed to reduce our body temperatures significantly.
Back at the main entrance, we began to worry that we wouldn’t find a taxi for the return trip to Valladolid.
A couple sat there waiting, alleviating that concern immediately, but then we still found ourselves waiting.
You see, he wasn’t prepared to leave without a full cab of 4 people!
So we sat and waited… and hoped we’d see that German couple from our hostel sometime soon!
They never emerged, but eventually a Swiss girl did, so we managed to convince him to take the 3 of us back to town, just as it began to rain…
* To get to Ek’ Balam we took a colectivo taxi for $40.00 pesos per person. On the way back, the waiting taxi (not the same we took out) refused to leave until there were 4 people. Eventually we convinced him to leave with 3 (us and a Swiss girl) for $50.00 pesos per person.
* It cost us $114.00 pesos per person to enter Ek’ Balam ($59.00 pesos for the UNAH fee, plus the remainder for the Yucatan governments additional fees), plus a $30.00 peso fee each to visit the cenote.