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Day 8 - Saturday, February 10, 2018. Our ADO bus for Valladolid was scheduled to leave Tulum at 9:30 am. So it was up at 6:30 am, out the door by 8:45 am, and be at the bus station a little after 9:00 am. We have learned that with buses being just about the only public transportation between cities, the bus stations are busy with lots of arrivals and departures throughout the day. The announcements, of course, are in Spanish. But it didn’t matter what language, the public address systems were a garbled mess anyway. When 9:30 am came around, we tried to figure out which bus was ours by showing each bus driver our tickets and trying to interpret their reactions. Finally, at 9:50 am, one bus driver nodded yes.
The 1st class ADO bus was a brand new Mercedes, and it was beautiful. The movie on the bus was some chick flick with Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston, and Kate Hudson all dubbed in Spanish. It was a hoot to watch and helped make the 90-minute ride fly by. We arrived in Valladolid Mexico at 11:15 am. As the bus was driving through the city toward the downtown bus station, I was surprised how much bigger Valladolid Mexico was. Fortunately, Suzi, our new Airbnb superhost, provided a map to her Airbnb from the bus station. It turned out to be an easy 10-minute walk through the historic part of town.
The Airbnb was in the Sisal Neighborhood within a block of the cathedral Ex-Convent San Bernardino de Siena; a grand plaza, a festival square; the famous Calle 41A historical street; and a delicious Mayan restaurant, Taberna de los Frailes. Susi's Airbnb was delightfully filled with Spanish charm and private patios, was delightful.
Cenote Zaci in Valladolid Mexico
spectacular and beautiful
We quickly dumped off our stuff, grabbed our snorkeling equipment, (ScubaPro Solara Scuba Diving Mask and ScubaPro Phoenix 2 Semi Dry Snorkel), daypack, and Ugo Waterproof Wallet to explore Valladolid Mexico. The first order of business was to locate Cenote Zaci, a sacred Mayan pool filled with crystalline waters situated right in the middle of town. It was beautiful. A descending path wound around a jungle setting that opened up to a large gorgeous blue circle of water that was half under a huge earthen dome. Running off the roof of the dome down to the center of the pool of water was a waterfall accentuating the tropical paradise ambiance. The day had heated up to 90-degrees and the cool 78-degree water felt welcomed. Snorkeling the underwater structures opened up a whole new alien world to us. So far, this was our third cenote. Each completely different.
After the refreshing dip, we returned to the city center and found a lively food court ringed with local restaurant stands. One older mom-and-pop caught our eye, and we bought a couple of tamale colados. Wanda’s Mom used to make tamales, so we expected these to be similar. We were mistaken. Tamale Colados are unique. It has a dumpling-like texture made of pork or chicken, corn dough and achiote paste (a traditional Mayan spice) cooked in a banana leaf, topped with roasted tomato sauce. We liked it. $15 Pesos ( 70 cents USD).
For dessert, we found a lady street vendor selling plastic bags stuffed with pre-cut mango slices on-a-stick for $10 Pesos ($.52 USD). We should have bought more. The mango was at its peak of ripened perfection.
We had read about two traditional Mayan dishes that we wanted to try, Poc Chuc and Cochinita Pibil. So, for supper, we wandered back to our Airbnb neighborhood to splurge on a traditional meal at the upscale Taberna de los Frailes just a half a block away. We ordered the Poc Chuc (smoked marinated pork) and Cochinita Pibil (shredded pork marinated in citrus juices and annatto-seed paste) and topped it off with a couple of “nectar of mango” drinks. Wow, it was all terrific with a total cost of $450 Pesos ($24 USD) including tip. https://www.facebook.com/tabernadelosfrailesvalladolid/
Every Saturday night, a laser-light show depicts the conquering of the Mayans by the Conquistadors on the side of the Ex-Convent San Bernardino de Siena. Being just right across the street from the restaurant we were ready for the Saturday evening laser show after supper. Sadly, being carnival time, they must have canceled. https://youtu.be/9xM4FLUJnnc
We met a young couple from Rhode Island also waiting for the light show and found that this plaza was going to be the sight of tomorrow’s carnival celebration. We did get to see a traditional Quinceanera photo session inside the cathedral which also gave us an inside view of the cathedral’s splendor. A Quinceanera is a celebration of a girl's 15th birthday and treated like a wedding with formal dresses, a Mariachi band, and a wedding-like cake.
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