27
Mar

Yucatan Weekend! Mayan Architecture and Magic Towns

As all my Facebook and Instagram followers know, Jorge and I were in Yucatan recently! We toured Chichen Itza and the town of Valladolid. (Valladolid is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Cancun, and Chichen Itza is about 2 hours and 30 minutes.)

It was Jorge’s very first time at Chichen Itza and my third. Sometimes I feel that even though I’m the gringa and he’s the Mayan, I know a lot more ancient Mayan culture than he does haha I guess that’s what happens when you become a travel writer. As soon as we got there, Jorge was blown away. I rarely see him get this excited about anything that’s not a video game.

Our first stop was El Castillo pyramid, Chichen Itza’s most famous structure. This is also the one that has the descending shadow snake on the spring equinox! There were people behind us the whole time clapping because if you clap from certain points, it echoes back from the top of the pyramid and sounds like an eagle.

Also, like so many women do, I have married a man who is very much like my father. We always joke that my dad can’t go anywhere without seeing somebody he knows, and Jorge is no different. At Chichen Itza, we ran into his cousins!

We stayed at Chichen Itza for about 4 hours total, and I have one recommendation: less souvenir stands, more water stands! The amount of salesmen blowing their “jaguar call” whistles was ok for about 2 minutes, but the rest of the day I felt like I wanted to punch them. If you ever visit Chichen Itza, I hope you enjoy several hours of fake jaguar calls in your ear. And I only found 2 water stands the entire day, which is pretty difficult when you’re exploring an entire city with little shade. Travel tip: Bring your own water to Chichen Itza. Lots of water. Other than that, we loved it! Most people only know El Castillo and maybe the Observatory, but Chichen Itza has so many other structures! A large structure surrounded by thousands of pillars, beautiful artwork, small platforms, even more large pyramids you’ve never heard of, and a huge Mayan ball game court.

If you look closely at these pillars, you can see the engravings of Mayan warriors. Jorge loved these!

So… do you think you can get a ball through this hoop using only your hips to touch the ball? It’s probably for the best that you can’t, because the winning team of the Mayan ball game was sacrificed to the gods as an honor.

After Chichen Itza, we spent a night in Valladolid. Mexico has a “Magic Town” campaign where towns across the country are recognized for their culture, history and attractions. Valladolid is one of Mexico’s “Magic Towns”. I didn’t take many pictures because I was  tired of playing photographer after the day at Chichen Itza.

The evening was spent watching cultural dancing by a park, hanging out in the main plaza, eating dinner by the main plaza and taking pictures of the cathedral.

We stayed at Hotel San Clemente, which I HIGHLY recommend! A few Facebook acquaintances highly recommended Meson del Marques hotel which is right on the square, but sadly it was out of our budget. However, Hotel San Clemente did not disappoint… right next door to the cathedral, pool, pretty courtyard, lots of hot water and a spacious room, all for $450 pesos a night (less than $40 USD). Next time I might spend the extra money just to stay in a hotel or B&B with more charm and style, but Hotel San Clemente was an amazing deal. Here’s the view from our room’s door:

In the morning, we crossed the main square to enjoy breakfast at the Valladolid market because you can’t spend a morning in Valladolid without breakfast at the market. I got a huge plate of fruit and Jorge got all kinds of tacos. Next we stopped by Casa de los Venados, which is a colonial home that was once abandoned and now has been renovated by an American couple as their house and a museum. You can go on a guided tour for about 1 hour, and all the bedrooms, courtyard, kitchen, living room, etc are filled with Mexican folk art. I’ve never seen anything like it! I wanted to focus on the experience instead of the pictures so I have nothing to show from my visit, but you can check out the Casa de los Venados website here.

Well that’s all I’ve got from our Yucatan trip! Jorge and I hope to go to Izamal in the future, and return to Valladolid with more time and more money.

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