I think it’s about time I began to write this as we have now been home well over a month….
On 12th January this year we flew from Izmir to Stansted. There was snow on the ground on the way to Adnan Menderes. Our flight was direct and trouble-free and we had booked our National Express bus from Stansted to Luton where we planned to stay with family. We arrived in Luton in a blizzard that, although short-lived, coincided with our getting off the coach and into a taxi for the short ride to Ashley’s mother’s house. Next day we went to London to spend time with my family and, Saturday 14th we flew from Gatwick to Cancun.
A ten hour flight is never the best way to spend a day but we had excellent service on our flight with Virgin Atlantic. The flight was not full and we had a row of 4 seats to ourselves. The seat back entertainment system was excellent and varied (we watched the first episode of Westworld, amongst other things), the food was fine, there was free alcohol in moderation and the staff were helpful and friendly. We landed in Cancun and got through immigration feeling reasonably relaxed, then a taxi to our hotel near the bus station.
The hotel was OK and the staff were sweet. We had a problem with the aircon which was fixed almost instantly. It felt very late at night though, in Cancun, it was early, so we didn’t do a lot. We took a stroll to the local square. This was not the touristy part of Cancun, so it was full of locals enjoying Saturday night. There were folk dancers and stalls selling street food, balloons and that kind of thing. I particularly remember the bats. There were lots of them, large ones (probably fruit bats of some sort) hanging from one of the trees in the zocolo like black handkerchiefs.
We had a few beers in the bar attached to the hotel. I got bitten. Lots. One of the worst mosquito attacks I experienced in the whole 5 weeks we were in the tropics.
Next morning we wandered around, back to a square where we listened to birds and watched those brave enough to show themselves in a crowded area. Basically we were waiting for a bus to take us to Valladolid. An easy ride (first class bus, it had movies, including one about Turkey).
I really like Valladolid. It’s not too touristy, though it does have some pleasant pensions and a couple of decent restaurants. It has a cenote where we watched loud tourists and a family of black vultures. It has a lovely, green square full of ground doves and… grackles. I really do like grackles. And, of course, it’s convenient for Cichen Itza.
There had been some debate around whether to go to Chichen Itza. Ashley has been several times, I had only been once. It was the first Mayan site I visited and I wanted to refresh my memory. We went on a collective (the Mexican equivalent of a Dolumuş). We saw a mot mot sitting on a wire on the way, though the vehicle was pretty full and it was hard to see much from the window. The first thing we saw upon arrival was the queue. Although we had arrived quite early, the crowds are such that there is a 20 minute queue just to pay to get into the site.
Sadly, from my point of view, they allow people to set up souvenier stalls inside the site itself. I suppose that is better than having them wander around accosting tourists, but it does little for the atmosphere. Also they sell these vile noisemakers which are supposed to imitate jaguars (I think they sound more like howler monkeys) and, unsurprisingly, these are very popular with children.
Nothing can really spoil Chichen Itza. The site is large and most tourists go to a very limited part of it (I think that a lot of the tour buses don’t allow you time to get around the whole site, particularly not if you like to take your sites slowly). There are two cenotes, both of them very beautiful (though I do have my favourite). There are some wonderful reliefs. And we spent quite a long time standing on one of the slightly out of the way paths watching a mot mot hunt butterflies. Well, mostly it was sitting pretty still so Ashely got some good shots.
Back to Valladolid for dinner (yes we did get the cochinita pibil) and a bit of sleep before catching the 5 a.m. bus to Chetumal……