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Day 4 - New Car, Ek Balam & Cenote Dzinup

It's Friday. I'm in Merida, at the hotel Dolores Alba, and Mika and Camila are happily swimming in the small hotel pool. Mike is upstairs, taking a nap. Camila is wearing a life jacket (the best buy ever) so I don't have to watch her that carefully. Mika has gotten pretty good at swimming, plus it's not that deep a pool. Still, they are within eyesight.

Yesterday started in Cancun with breakfast at the hotel, followed by a dip in the pool for the kids, while I packed our suitcases (it's a pain in the butt to have to pack up daily). That done we went to exchange our car at the rental agency, as our original car had a problem with the A/C - it worked well for half an hour to an hour and then it stopped. Not ideal given the heat of the Yucatan. Having to return the car was a pain, we had meant to stay that night in Valladolid rather than Cancun, but fortunately my plans for each day are pretty light, so we still managed to hit the two places I had planned - even though we didn't leave Cancun until noon or so.

The drive to the Valladolid area took probably an hour and a half or so (the half being getting out of Cancun). We took the paid road, hoping it would save time, and with NO idea of how expensive it was - about US$20 for the 150 km stretch! cuota.jpg We're definitely not making that mistake again. Still, we managed to get to Ek Balam early enough, so I can' t really complain.

Our first stop off the highway, however, was Temozon, a small village famous for its smoked meats. We got some smoked pork at one of the many roadside butcher shops (1lb for MN$50, not sure if we got taken) and, indeed, it was very good. Even though we'd had a lunch of sorts
in Cancun, both Mike and I devoured it.

After a brief, involuntary visit to Ek Balam village (we turned left on the side of the road when we were supposed to go straight), we ended up on the large but almost empty parking lot for the ruins. Ek Balam has gotten much more popular in recent years. Indeed, I hadn't been there as serious excavations/reconstructions did not start until the mid-nineties. But we were there a bit late in the day, and must have missed the tour buses.

Ek Balam is a pretty cool site. It has a large pyramid, which Mike and the kids delighted on climbing and a couple of other large structures. Some cool reliefs on the sides of the pyramid, which the kids could not care less about. By far the coolest thing the kids saw was a bunch of puppies, perhaps 8 weeks old, that were hiding in one of the rooms of the structure next to the pyramid. The kids were enchanted. They loved the puppies, they loved playing with them, holding them, petting them, you know the drill. They were by far more impressed by the puppies than by the ruins. They only left, after quite a while, to see some iguanas Mike had found on his explorations. But they wanted to go back to see the puppies, only some firmness and Camila's need for the potty helped us get them away.

Our next stop was the cenote Dzinup. I know that it's no longer called that, now that there are two cenotes in the Dzninup village that are open to the public, but that's how I knew it back then and that's what's easiest to remember now.

The cenote Dzinup is a beautiful cenote at the bottom of a cave. It's almost completely covered by limestone, with the exception of a little whole on the roof through which light filters in. I remembered the effect to be magical, the cenote having the most gorgeous deep turquoise color. I had seen it in the morning, however, and this time we were there in the late afternoon. It was also quite overcast by then. The cenote was pretty, but quite dark, and taking pictures was impossible. The kids and Mike loved it, though. The water was cool and refreshing, the cenote large enough to accommodate all the swimmers, and the setting just beautiful. Once again, I was thankful that we'd bought and brought along the life jackets, as it'd have been difficult for the kids to enjoy it so much otherwise. Indeed, the kids, who had had great reservations as to the cenotes when I was describing them to them, were instantly sold over. Today we explored Chichen Itza to Camila's chanting of "I want to go to the cenote" time after time :-)

The cenote closed at 5:30, so we headed to our hotel, the Hacienda Sanchez in Valladolid. I have to confess that I spent quite a long time researching hotels before this trip, and the research did pay off - as we've been very happy with the hotels we have been staying in. The hotel Hacienda Sanchez was no exception and I would fully recommend it to anyone making a stop in Valladolid. Indeed, we wished we had a reason to stay an extra day.

I very much doubt that Hacienda Sanchez was ever a real hacienda. Rather I suspect the hotel was built in the manner of an hacienda, with a three-story building and a number of "casitas" (or suites) facing a large, internal, manicured garden/patio. A very pleasant place all in all.

The kids, of course, zeroed in the pool and they happily swam there until the pool closed at 8. We then got dressed and went for dinner at the very empty hotel restaurant. Very empty, very good and very reasonably priced, that is. We had multiple juices/shakes, main dishes and dessert for less than US$30. And I can't tell you how beautiful the open room was, and how attentive the service. So far our best general experience in the Yucatan.

And that was it for the day.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 11, 2009 12:13 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Days 3 - From Isla Holbox to Cancun.

The next post in this blog is Day 5 - Chichen Itza, Cenote Azul and Merida.

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