Chichén-Itzá Ruins, Valladolid, and Cancun

After spending a few days in Merida, we started heading east along the Yucatan Peninsula toward Cancun.  We wanted to break the trip up to see the infamous Chichén-Itzá ruins so we stopped in a small-ish town called Valladolid at a great little hostel called Hostel La Candalaria.  But before we got there, we stopped at the Chichén-Itzá ruins along the way.  According to the Internet, Chichén-Itzá is one of the top 10 must see ruins in Mexico so of course we had to stop and see them.

When we arrived the parking lot was packed with cars and huge tour buses and we immediately knew that we were going to be sharing the site with many others.  When we got inside we were right.  We tried not to let it bother us too much, but having huge flocks of people everywhere and hundreds of souvenir peddlers all over the place really took away some of the magic and mystery of the ancient towering pyramids.  We did our best to tune it out and take in the beautiful sights regardless.  One of the most fascinating things about this particular site was how well preserved everything was.  There were tons of intact stone carvings, animal heads guarding the slanted inclines of the pyramids, and ancient pillars which once held up roofs for the long lost civilizations.  Lots of the over hanging stone decorations stood the test of time and remained mostly intact.

The only other drawback to this particular site was the no climbing rule.  At nearly every other site we had visited so far we were able to at least climb one giant pyramid among other things, but Chichén-Itzá had rope and signs around every building.  We heard from some other travelers that too many women were falling off the big pyramid in the center so they set the entire site off limits.  Bummer.  It was probably all those women who decided to wear mini skirts and high heels to a Mayan ruin site.  What were they thinking?    Gotta look good for the ancient dead!

There was also a deep cenote at Chichén-Itzá which was blocked off, but rightfully so.  The drop to the water itself was easily 50+ feet. No swimming allowed here!  Plus the Iguanas pretty much owned the place and had the cenote fairly well guarded.

After visiting the Chichén-Itzá ruins in the morning, we started heading toward Valladolid to Hostel La Candelaria.  The hostel had some resident cats there who were fun to play with and a very nice courtyard area with plenty of shade.  It was a nice quick one night stop before we headed off to Cancun.

The following morning we decided to check out some of the nearby swim-able cenotes to cool off before heading toward the expensive and touristy Cancun.  We were so glad we got to see these cenotes, they were absolutely AMAZING.  And we got to swim in them!!  The first was called Samula and it had these tree roots sinking down into the water below.  It looked like something straight out of a fantasy movie.  I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually seeing this place for myself.  While we were swimming in the water we could float on our backs and star up at the stalactite ceiling and see birds and bats flying all over.

The second cenote called Xkeken was just as beautiful with its magical ray of sun shining thr0ugh its tiny opening in the ceiling.  Both cenotes had some lights installed on the walls that changed color which was pretty cool.  The water was so refreshing and clear.  Again, I could have sworn I was dreaming.

After having our minds blown by nature, we headed off toward Cancun.  There isn’t a whole lot to say about Cancun except it reminded me a lot of Cabo San Lucas.  Lots of partying and drinking and beach front luxury hotels.  We only stayed for one night before heading off toward the ferry which would take us to the Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women!)  We had heard great things about the island and decided to spend one night out there at a famous hostel called Poc-Na Hostel. So first things first, we hopped on the local ferry that would take us to the island in 20 minutes.  We left our car at the ferry parking garage while we headed out.

After we arrived we had a short and easy walk to the hostel which was right on the beach.  The only drawback was that the hostel didn’t really have a public kitchen and we had brought along a small lunch pail of food to cook our own meals.  Oh well.  We managed and made our meals cold.  The first thing we did was head out to the beach for some sun bathing and swimming.  The water here on the Caribbean was almost too warm!  We still had a lot of sun swimming in the crystal clear blue waters with the pristine white sand beaches.  We got some reading in, had a few beers, and took in the scenery.  Then afterwards we rented a golf cart for an hour and cruised around the island.  That was so much fun.

Later that evening we hung out at the hostel bar and chatted with some fellow travelers before heading to bed for the night.  When we woke up we headed out to get some free breakfast from the kitchen, fruit and toast, and then packed our things before heading back to Cancun.  However, before we left we found out from a fellow roommate that our room had bed bugs!  Fortunately for Steve and I our beds weren’t that bad, but this other girl had to leave and sleep in another room because her bed was infested.  It was pretty gross, but luckily it wasn’t so bad.  While we were checking out we let the people who worked there about it.  Later we would find out that the problem got out of hand just after we left, so perfect timing on our part, all things considered.

After returning to our car we started heading south towards Belize to stop in a town called Tulum for a while before making the border crossing.  Tulum, here we come!

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  1. Marti Says:

    Hi–it seems that the ruins you are visiting just get more spectacular–I hope you don’t feel too bad about not seeing the pyramids in Egypt, Steve (at least for now). The hostels, beaches, and all look so amazing. And those cenotes, Alix, were amazing. I can’t imagine swimming there. How cool to imagine you’re in your own movie–maybe something you can remember when it comes time to work on game design? Way cool….. Always love to see the pictures of Steve, and can’t wait to see about your Belize fun! Please tell Jody hi, and give hugs and kisses pleeze!!! Love to all, xoxoxoxo Mom

  2. Marti Says:

    P.S. You seriously need to consider creating some postcards and selling them! Or publishing a book on how to travel Mexico by car and help Mexico’s economy out by letting people know of its hidden beauty so they’ll visit – can’t let Europe have all the fun! mom

  3. Dave the Gimp Dad Says:

    Oh my lord…those cenoles are simply fabulous!!! I can see why you had to pinch yourself… I was amazed just seeing your pictures myself. The picture of the palm trees at hostel Isla Mujeres is really cool. I would love to vacation in a place like that…but the bedbug situation stinks. AND the ruins are something else…I had heard of them and know they are famous. To bad they are so commercialized. Anyway…I hope you guys are having a great time with Jody…WOOT! I am sooooooo jealous I can;t be there with you.


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