Another long bus trip took us through Merida and on to Valladolid via lots of tiny villages so we got a look at another area of rural Mexico (hopefully our last!). Once we arrived in Valladolid and after a few mis-steps we found our hostel not far from the downtown action. The pool promised on booking.com turned out to be a................mistake (?) but at that point the large bed and ac convinced us it would work ok! Now off for some groceries but after walking for blocks in very muggy conditions we arrived at the market, which was locked up tight. Not our best start to this city!! So we decided to hang out in town another night to give it a fair chance but we had to find a place to stay as ours was full - things aren't getting any better!!! However after hitting the streets and checking out a couple of options we ended up at a quiet little place with a shared kitchen. Things are looking up!
After dumping our bags we headed out to EK Balam in a shared colectivo. Ek Balam is a Mayan ruin that was uncovered in the 1980s so it is not as popular as some of the better known sites and therefore there were way less people about. We had a guide who was very interesting and proud of his Mayan culture. He taught us a few words of the Mayan language which they are working hard to preserve and teach to the youngsters. The site was amazing with a towering main temple you could climb. The Yucatan is very flat so you had a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. They have uncovered about a third of the "city" that once housed about 1,500. On each side of the area we toured through there are mounds of rock, brush and trees that cover other parts of the "city", which will, in time, be excavated and preserved.
There is a cenote a couple of kms away so we went over for a dip. The Yucatan is mainly limestone with huge reserves of water flowing underground and every so often there is a cenote or hole down to where the water is. These are the reason people could live here as there is virtually no lakes or rivers in this part of Mexico. We paid our fees and climbed down the ramp about 100 feet to the waters edge where Donna spotted, to her horror, fish swimming in what was supposed to be pristine water. These guys looked like kind of like she remembered pirranas looking but after none seemed interested in Wayne she bravely jumped in and paddled around a while before deciding to get out before feeding time started. How brave!!!
Thus cooled off we headed for a colectivo and were home in no time, groceries in hand and ready to eat. Wayne headed up to the rooftop cooking area, which was a very pleasant setup to make a feast. He plugged in the hotplates and stuck the chicken on to simmer while potatos were frying on other. Perfecto! - except the heat generated by these suckers on high would barely melt butter - no so perfecto!!! In the end we were forced to debone and nuke the chicken (not recommended for tender results) and potatos and eat the broccoli raw. Masterchef not!!!! That pretty much settled it - we are blowing this place and heading to Playa Del Carmen tomorrow!!!
Wayne came up with the idea we should purchase the bus tickets the night before as the 10:15am bus was the first going to Playa that morning so may be busy. At 8:58pm we strut into the station and there was only one guy in line...sweet. The lady behind the glass waves us over to till one and then the guy working there gets up and leaves. A minute later the clerks at tills 2&3 leave as well. Okay!! Finally first lady wanders over to till one and turns on the computer and we wait and wait and wait some more. I glance over my shoulder and see at least 8 people in line behind me......oh oh. We can see the computer screen on which an error message keeps coming up. The lady hits the keyboard and it disappears.....until she types....then it pops back up. After a dozen of these failing attempts she reboots and mercifully the computer seems to be happy now - we hope. By now line reachs to rear of station and people don’t look thrilled. She finally gets the correct screen up and although the bus is very full, yes we can buy 2 tickets. She prints our tickets and I just about throw the money at her trying to hurry things along. She opens the cash drawer to get change and....the drawer is empty. "Uno momento" she says and gestures us to the side and starts with lady behind us. By now the lineup resembles something you see on those Black Friday sales days and they are in about the same bad humour. The customer behind us tries to pay for her ticket but also needs change so the clerk disappears, walking behind a wall for a very long time to the point where some grumpy looking fellow walks up from halfway back in the line and hollers at the doorway she left through! Things are starting to get tense! Slowly she emerges and shuffles over with our change and ticket. I want to tell the surly mob that we are Canadian and would never intentionally delay them but decide instead to quickly scuttle out before we are the stars of a mayan sacrifice ritual. This is not my favorite Mexican town!!!!
After a very quiet night it starts around 6:15 AM with a very noisy group hollering across the lobby to each other as they leave. Every half hour or so different groups leave with not much concern for those sleeping so we have no trouble being up and ready to go in plenty of time to walk to our 10am bus! It's first class this time and we run south through Tulum and pull into Playa del Carmen about 3 hours later as advertised!Donna had studied the map before we left and we walked right up to the place we had reserved - king size bed, pool, AC and very nice shared kitchen about 2 blocks from beach. Perfecto!! Our manager was a very nice guy who checked us in for 3 nights. Things are now REALLY looking up!!!