Almost two months ago I was fortunate enough to explore The Yucatán Peninsula. The trip proved to be the trip of a lifetime, testing not only my personal limits but also the limits of my relationship with Dan. It was a trip filled with excitement, anticipation, love, exhaustion, and lots and lots of eating. Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to experience all the things that I did and I will cherish these memories of traveling with Dan when I am old and weak. Below is my vain effort to document my journey through the peninsula as accurately as possible.
We flew out to Cancun on Tuesday, June 6th with Southwest Airline in order to attend Dan’s high school friend’s wedding. We decided to fly out a few days before the actual wedding ceremony so that we could explore the Yucatán and make the most out of our trip. The flight took us 4 hours and we landed in Cancun by roughly 4:00 PM.
Dan had scheduled a shuttle van to pick us up from the airport and drop us off at Easy Way where we rented a car. We were a bit skeptical about renting a car in Mexico, but it proved to be a good decision and we highly recommend renting a car to anyone traveling from city to city. For our purposes, the car was not only a mode of transportation but also a place to store our things while we explored the different cities.
To our surprise, the Chevy Spark we rented was a manual transmission. Fortunately, Dan has had some experience driving stick shift but his skills were rusty and it was a bumpy ride to say the least. I would recommend double checking with the agent before a car is assigned to you in case you don’t know how to drive stick shift.
We drove straight to the city of Valladolid where we managed to reserve a private room at Hostel CandeLaria. The room cost us around $30 USD and also gave us access to wifi, shared bathrooms, a common area, and free breakfast in the morning. The hostel was small but charming and we felt safe inside the gates.
Hungry and in search of food, we ventured out into the city on foot after unpacking our bags. We found La Selva, a small family style restaurant that served us authentic Mexican cuisine. We enjoyed home-made style soup, tacos, and guacamole; it was surprisingly one of my favorite meals while in Mexico.
After dinner we ventured a little further into the city and found a grocery store where we stocked up on water and paper towels (we forgot to pack towels so we used paper towels to dry ourselves instead). Exhausted from a days worth of traveling, we quickly retreated back to our hostel. Dan immediately knocked out the second he got into bed. It was a little harder for me to fall asleep because of the humidity and the lack of AC but I eventually managed to fall asleep drenched in my sweat.
I woke up early the next morning to the sound of an actual rooster crowing, something I’ve never experienced living in Los Angeles. We walked around the hostel in search of our free breakfast which consisted of pancakes, watermelon, bananas, coffee, cereal, and tea. It was a relaxing morning and I regretted we could not stay longer to explore the hostel.
We packed up our bags, checked out of the hostel, loaded the car, and drove straight to Chichen Itza. It was an especially hot and humid day; I remember sweating the entire time we explored the Mayan Ruins. Luckily I was wearing a swimsuit under my shirt which absorbed all my sweat! I would recommend dressing lightly, layering sunblock on every 2 hours, and wearing comfy walking shoes.
We opted out of paying for a tour and wandered around the ruins at our own pace. I particularly enjoyed El Castillo for its grandeur as well as the Great Ball-court where I imagined Dan playing a game of Pok-ta-tok. Unfortunately, the heat was quite persistent and drained our energy quickly, getting in the way of truly being able to enjoy the ruins. We managed to snap a few pics before heading to lunch to replenish our energy.
Lunch at Chichen Itza was extremely satisfying but also a bit pricy. We demolished our food and started for our next destination: Cenote Ik Kil. Drenched in sweat, Dan and I were both more than ready to cool off with a swim (of course we washed our bodies before entering the cenote). If you didn’t already know, a Cenote is a natural sinkhole created from the collapse of limestone bedrock. Once the bedrock collapses, it reveals the water underneath and the result is a natural pool.
The minute I set my eyes on Ik Kil my mind exploded. The beauty of the cenote felt unreal and I was in awe at the amount of attention and detail God must have put into creating this masterpiece. From above, I saw people jumping into the water and swimming to and from the ledge. It resembled Koi fish swimming in a pond. We slowly descended into the heart of the cenote and wrapped our phones with protective waterproof cases (Dan had purchased them off Amazon for $5).
I felt rejuvenated the minute I entered the pool. I noticed the small, black fish swimming along side me and the birds that would swoop down from the sky and rest on tree branches. It was a surreal experience and I understood why Ik Kil was sacred to the Mayans.
Ik Kil was one of two cenotes we visited that day. I wanted to enjoy Ik Kil a little longer but Dan rushed us to our next destination: Cenote X’keken. Before arriving to X’keken I thought it would look similar to Ik Kil but X’keken had a completely different atmosphere. It is a subterranean cenote which meant it was a lot darker and cooler inside. It was essentially a deep cave that led to a large body of water decorated with stalagmites and stalactites.