|Left Isla Mujeres today... we took a ferry this morning to Puerto Juarez, a taxi to the bus station in Cancun, and then hopped on a bus that got us to the town of Valladolid by mid-afternoon. We are staying in a sketchy hotel, but it's only $15/night for both of us, with private bathroom, and very close to the bus station (trust me, that's cheap for Mexico... I'm really missing the prices in Peru right now!).
Being inland, Valladolid is much hotter than Isla was. We spent the rest of our afternoon walking around Valladolid, though there's really not much to see. One nice thing is that there are hardly any tourists. We checked out the Cenote Zaci, which is just a few blocks from the centre of town.
The entire Yucatan Peninsula is a vast, flat limestone shelf, which is quite porous. Because of this geology, there are no aboveground rivers and very few lakes, as the limestone aborbs rainfall. The people of the peninsula have traditionally drawn their fresh water from cenotes -- limestone sinkholes that serve as natural cisterns. Rainwater, which falls between May and October, collects in the cenotes for use during the dry season. Some cenotes have just a small opening from the earth above leading to a large underground cavern; other cenotes are very open because most of the limestone roof has collapsed.
Cenote Zaci is an example of a cenote that is quite open; the result is that it is not very attractive for swimming because there is quite a lot of dust and other matter that has collected on the surface of the water. Just the same, it was still interesting to see, and quite pretty, and frankly, we had nothing else to do. The park that Cenote Zaci is in also has a bit of a zoo. Like the zoo at Hacienda Mundaca, I found it a little bit depressing. There was one cage filled with coatis that was fun; they were all so friendly, trying to stick their noses through the bars when we approached.
For supper, we ate in a restaurant in the colonial courtyard of a hotel on the plaza. The courtyard had a fountain and a beautiful garden and the food was very inexpensive. We noticed that there were a few dark clouds as the sun was setting, and sure enough, by the time we finished with our meals, the skies had opened up and we were treated to the loudest thunder and lightning storm that I have ever seen. We moved our table away from the open courtyard and sat around in candlelight for a while after the power went out. We had hoped to wait out the storm, but after an hour, it was clear that it wasn't stopping, so we decided to accept the fact that we were getting wet and walked the three blocks to our hotel, often ankle-deep in water where the streets were flooded. After that, it was an early bedtime so that we could get to Chichen Itza first thing in the morning.