…and then I saw Yucatan

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery

Yucatan looks and feels very different than the central highlands

From the central highlands of Mexico, I reached Yucatan to checkout some ruins and cities in the peninsula. A couchsurfer I met in Cuernavaca told me to “listen carefully” to Yucatecan Spanish, because it is more musical. Hmm, as someone who barely knows any Spanish, I “listen carefully” anyways, and no, I didn’t hear any music…

Mérida

Cultural capital of Yucatan state that was swarmed with unpleasant tourists. I suffered from traveller’s diarrhea here, thankfully it lasted just one night!


↑ Merida’s quiet downtown street

“What don’t you understand? why can’t you guys speak English?”
When I hear a foreigner yelling that to a Mexican ticket agent, I find it obnoxious. Time and again, I encountered the worst kinds of tourists in Merida. However the city itself is lovely. Being on the weekend, the downtown area was closed, there was a huge Sunday market and also some “cultural shows” on every street corner.

Uxmal

The site of ancient Mayan ruins.


↑ Semi-restored housing block

I woke up early one morning and boarded the first bus from Merida to Uxmal (उश्माल/oosh-maal) aiming to enter just when the doors opened and much before the tourist buses started arriving. Unfortunately the bus broke down and I got there later… along with the tours. Oh well, that’s life.

Santa Elena, Ticul and Oxkutzcab

Failed hitchhiking led me to these small towns.


↑ Ticul town centre

From Uxmal, I thought of hitchhiking to other ruins on the Puuc route (Ruta Puuc). Unfortunately my success in raising a thumb or frantically waving at a vehicle was dismal. Instead, I ended up visiting small Yucatecan towns and staying at one of them. I think it turned out well.

Chichen Itza

Most popular tourist site one of the seven new wonders of the world.


↑ The hugely popular El Castillo pyramid. One side is restored, the other isn’t.

I was unimpressed by Chichen Itza, but it doesn’t have to be like that always. Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Red Square, Western Wall – all top tourist sites are also the places I enjoyed seeing the most. But for some reason, although beautiful, Chichen Itza just didn’t do much for me.

Valladolid

I came here to change buses but the city lured me into staying longer.


↑ Main cathedral across the Zocalo

Valladolid is simple, quiet and there is not much going on. Yet I felt quite drawn to this place and I spent three days doing nothing other than cycling, visiting cenotes and eating.

Ek Balam

Mostly unknown and my favorite ruins in Yucatan


↑ The archeological zone at Ek Balam is nowhere as massive as Uxmal or Chichen Itza

Ruins of Ek Balam were a complete surprise. I went to Ek Balam on my last day in Mexico since I wanted to relax and not do too much. Still un-restored and away from the tourist radar, this site was quiet, in the middle of vegetation and had a virginal vibe to it.

Cancun

My departing flight was from Cancun and I only spent few hours in this city. I’m sure there are lovely parts to it, but I am not the resort/party type person which seems to be the thing to do if you visit Cancun.

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery