Thank goodness for a small car! Managed to get out of the hotel parking garage, and we made our way to the Templo de San Bernardino and Convento de Sisal in Valladolid. It was built in 1552 as a combination fortress and church. We enjoyed seeing the cloister, dining room, and monks’ rooms. The convent and church were adjacent, and the confessionals were such that the priest entered from the convent side, and the confessor from the church side. Also, the entry to the balcony loft in the church was only from the convent side. The grounds within the walls were large, with lots of room to grow crops. There was a cenote (underground river/pool) they had covered and installed a water wheel system to pump water for the kitchens and irrigation. It is amazing to see the scale of the development Spain was doing in this area in the 1500’s compared to England in North America.
We had figured out routes to Izamal both with Mapquest and the GPS, but ended up just heading out of town and following signs. This took us on more back roads and not the freeway, so the drive was more interesting. It was still a bit of a green tunnel, but we went through several small towns, which were interesting. I was going to have Ruth look up some things in the guide book, but we decided she needed to be on pot hole and speed bump patrol. Speed bumps are frequent around towns. Some have signs, but many do not. They require coming to almost a stop, so I am getting lots of experience down-shifting and using the lower gears. The pot holes are another matter, and can be anywhere, requiring some diversion from your side of the road. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic and this didn’t create a problem. There was only one town where the road direction was unclear, but we were able to follow the truck in front of us.
We found Izamal and our hotel easily this time. This is a medium sized town with some nice sites and a laid back feel. The hotel is a complex of little cabins set in gardens. We have the ‘Santa Fe’ room with southwest décor and a front porch complete with a hammock.
We walked into the town center for lunch, and then visited the Convento de San Antonio de Padua. This was a good companion site to the one this morning. This complex was built in 1533 when the Spanish demolished the largest temple of the Mayan city, and built the church with the Mayan stones. The complex sits on higher ground than the town around it because it sits on that foundation. There were originally 12 pyramids here, and there are three that have been excavated enough to explore. Izamal is called the yellow city, because most of the center, including the Convent, is painted a deep gold.
Tomorrow we work our way south to the area around Uxmal again, where we will see a couple of other archeological sites, and maybe tour a hacienda.