Bill and I hit the streets of Valladolid looking for a hostel. Before long we met a young guy, coincidently, also from New Mexico (Santa Fe) who recommended the La Candaleria Hostel. What a little paradise....with walkways meandering through a beautifully landscaped tropical setting, little hideaways to sit and relax or socialize, hammocks, two spacious fully equipped kitchens...complete with three chihuahuas and two cats. My favorite chihuahua being "Bob". The managers are Avout, from Holland and his girlfriend, from Mexico, who's parents own the building.
Our typical day at the Candaleria Hostel begins with a breakfast of coffee, toast, yogurt with granola and fruit...then kick back in the hammocks and decide what to do with the rest of our day. What a life!! All this for about $10 a person per night.
The town of Valladolid is a colonial town, like Campache, but much smaller and quieter. It's a great central place to stay and take side trips to nearby Mayan ruins, beaches and cenotes.
The first day we decided to check out the local cenote called Zaci, just a few minutes walk from the hostel...cenotes are pools of freshwater formed from limestone sinkholes linked by an underground river system found in the Yucatán Peninsula. There are over 2000 in the Yucatan and are their main source of fresh water.
The Zaci Cenote has a diameter of 150 feet and is 260 feet deep with a rare species of eyeless black fish known as "lub" swimming in it. Okay, I'm glad I didn't know that before I went swimming in it....no, really, the water was great, and I didn't get any little nibbles from eyeless lub. We walked down many stone steps through a cave with stalactites and stalagmites, down more stairs to the beautiful azure blue water below. Felt amazing swimming in these ancient waters...
One day we met an older man named Tom Jones swimming in the middle of the cenote...yes, Kathy Ireland meets Tom Jones!!! Anyway, he and his wife, who are from North Carolina, bought a home in the colonial district about 10 years ago and spend 6 months of the year living here in Valladolid. He said they're about ready to make the move full time.
Another day we walked to the "Sisal" cathedral...actually called the Monastery of St Bernardino of Siena. This monastery was built in the 1550's over a cenote...the water was used for drinking, vegetable gardens and fruit trees making it completely self sufficient within the monastery. Great architecture, amazing archways and stairways everywhere.
Sitting outside the monastery we notice the kids are getting out of school and the Moms are picking them up on mopeds; one kid in front, one in back, no helmets. Another time we saw a man on a motorcycle with his wife sitting sidesaddle on the back; one hand holding her husband and one hand holding a toddler, dangling to the side...pretty scary, but I didn't see any accidents. One day we were sitting at a park bench by the monastery and a truck drove by slowly pulling a cage with 2 tigers and a lion in it...that was quite a sight!! They were advertising a circus coming to town.
The best food experiences here were the Sopa de Limon...like tortilla soup with lot's of lime...delicious!!...the best buy on the street was a 1/4 of a roasted chicken with rice and tortillas for 16 pesos (about $1.20) and of course fresh limon ice cream was my favorite everywhere in Mexico.
Had dinner one night with three guys from the hostel...discussions of alternative energy, hippies and yurts...
Wren was a young guy who makes a good living housesitting and working for a circus in the Seattle area. Saw him teaching juggling to the neighborhood kids in front of the hostel. His way of getting to know the children of Mexico.
Mild mannered Walker (Walk), from Saint Augustine, Florida, who played the guitar and sang like Jimmy Buffet...
Bren, from Vancouver, who grew "the herb" for 20 years.
Later we met Peter, a young 21 year old, going to college and living in Florida...traveling alone but enjoying the adventure of seeing new places...he and another guy he met, who was from Austrialia, traveled to Merida together the next day. A constant flow of travelers in and out of these hostels, traveling by collectivos, alone, but never really alone...
Our last night...Bill made hamburgers and we found a quiet table with candles burning....at the table next to us a young Asian guy was kicked back playing beautiful classical guitar....Felt so lucky...great music, great food, warm tropical breeze...I'm really going to miss this place!!