Two months in Mexico travel blog

nice divided highway going into Valladolid from Genesis Retreat in Ek Balam

Zocalo in Valladolid with morning traffic

church steeple acrosss from Zocalco

front of church from park

main street in Valladolid next to the zocalo

road from Valladolid to Chichen Itza, or any other place they looked...

stopped for lunch, man on rafters installing palm leaves on roof

inside the Balanchake caves



offering vases found by stalagtite formation in middle of cave

more offering vases

more offering vases

more offering vases

more offering vases

more offering vases at the bottom of this formation

part of caves that goes deeper into the ground, has water in...

another section with enough light. small corn grinders and vases and bowls...

more minature corn grinders and vases, some have faces on them

close up of grinders and vase

water (shows black) in cave pool

more minature corn grinders

close up of vase with figure with crossed arms across chest

This is in Yacuma west of the Caves and Chichen Itza about...

view from top of temple looking at platform that the sacbe roads...

another temple mounds re conquered by the bushes, this was worked on...

close up of observatory platform and round top

another shot of observatory

the sacbe platform

without a map it was impossible to get a grip on what...

standing on the road platform looking at the temple I took the...

these had square columns on the front of it

The famous flea bag Hotel Cantu in Itzamal

Hotel Cantu in Itzamal, back courtyard beyond rooms

behind the back of hotel courtyard, storage doors

looking back the way I came through archway hall

doors to hotel rooms

in front courtyard

looking to the left at arches to main lobby area

arches and ceiling in the lobby part of hotel Cantu

looking back from the hotel lobby through the arches to the open...

sink in lobby area

hallway from open courtyard to hotel rooms

my room, you can almost see the fleas and bed bugs jumping...

bathroom, the toilet did flush, but badly

shower, and yes, no hot water, I passed

window and door in room, barely had hinges that worked

Leaving Valladolid for the caves and Yaxuna: Dec 22

I made a slight adjustment to my schedule and left Genesis Retreat a day early so I could pick up a couple more sites. I drove the same way to Chichen Itza and stopped at the Balankanche caves that were located about 6 k from Chichen Itza. I had seen the sign for them the day before but knew I would not have time to do both. The grounds for the caves were very clean and well raked. They had a small museum in the ticket building. I looked at everything while more people arrived to take the tour. Our guide took us down into the cave explaining the history as we went. He turned on lights that had been installed in the cave system. A lot of work went into the presentation of the caves. It was very nice. Even though it was cool in the cave it was also damp and humid. What I liked the most were the teeny corn grinders with the T or tooth shape feet. The things found in the cave were never moved and had been sitting there for over two thousand years. Being it was located so close to Chichen Itza, I wondered if the people from there came to the cave to make offerings to the ancient gods. After the tour I continued down the road past Chichen Itza and through a number of small villages. Being every town of any size had 'Topes' or speed bumps you had to slow down almost to a crawl to keep the undercarriage of the vehicle from bottoming out. One of the small towns had a Tope right in front of a café that was grilling chicken on the front porch. Boy, did it smell good. I stopped and had lunch. While I was waiting I watched a man on the roof adding thatched palm leaves to the roof addition. I found that very clever. As I was eating lunch a really skinny dog came up to the steps of the porch of the café. I mean so skinny her rib cage stuck out so bad I could tell she hadn't eaten for a while. I gave her a bone, which she almost swallowed whole. I finished another piece and gave her that. I ended up giving her almost the whole lunch including the tortillas. She ate everything in one gulp. When I left the dog followed me to the car wagging her tail. It was so sad, because I couldn't take her with me. The man cooking the chickens was watching the dog and me. I looked at him and told him to give the dog something to eat once and a while. I don't think he ever would. If he did, the dog wouldn't be so starving in the first place. I continued on to the small and obscure site of Yaxuna. It was lost in the bushes next to a small village not far from Chichen itza, but could only be accessed by road going around the horn, so to speak and through several small villages. The map was good and I found it very easily. It was getting late in the day by then and I wanted to explore it before dark. I parked the car by one of the temples and climbed to the top. I could see a man on a bicycle riding down the road at break neck speed toward me. I thought it was the caretaker to sell me a ticket. When he reached me I could see he was young Mayan man of about 20 sporting a two-foot long machete. He wasn't the caretaker, but in a ten-minute conversation of broken English he got across to me he would show me around for money. I fished out 2 dollars in change and he took it. He then went on to explain that he had to see the doctor and it cost more. I finally opened my notebook and showed him all I had was a 100-peso note. He took it and was happy. He then showed me around everything I had already seen from the top of the temple I had climbed. While I was looking at a small platform I could see a small sign printed on a piece of board tacked to a post that said Coba. That had to be the platform that connected the site of Coba with a sacbe road to the site of Yaxuna. So much was over grown with weeds I would have never found anything else. I asked him why he didn't cut the weeds as he had a machete. He spoke in sign language, no money, no weeds. That was pretty clear. He did take me a little further down a weed-infested path to another section. The thought ran through my mind, 'You know, here you are out in the middle of nowhere on a site that is overgrown with weeds, where no one knows where you are, being lead into the bushes by a strong muscular man wielding a machete and the sun is rapidly going down beyond the horizon. There is something wrong with this picture. It is time to get out of here and fast'. I thanked him very much and said good-bye and got in the car. He left on his bicycle. I was so relieved. He may just have been after a few pesos, but who knows what other things may have happened. I stopped briefly at a complex at the entrance to the site and found it was the houses used by the archaeologists during the time they were exploring the site. The last time anyone was here was 1985. What a shame to have it all overgrown after so many wonderful discoveries were made. I had to do some research on this when I returned home and found I missed a whole lot. Yaxuna with be on the list for next time and I will be sure to arrive early in the day. As I was driving out of the town of Yacuna I passed the man on the bicycle and one of his friends on the street. He looked the picture of health. He didn't need a doctor, but his story could have used a bit of doctoring to say the least. Night came fast and I barely made it to Izamal before I couldn't see the road. I stopped in the middle of town at the plaza. I inquired at the hotel whose sign I had seen on the building. The man selling ice cream in the lobby went to get the hotel caretaker. When he arrived I asked about a room. He said ten dollars. I was tired and didn't ask to see it first. He showed me to the room, Egad, another Coba fleabag with no running water in the shower and this one located behind the façade of a hotel on the town square. I took it anyway, as the next choices were the two fancy hotels that charged 100.00 per night. More later, Gay

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