Sunday, July 06, 2008

Yucatan summer redux: Journey's end (part 4)

From the islands, to Merida and Celestun, then the Ruta Puuc, Dan and I were nearing the end of our two-week Yucatan summer adventure...but with great reluctance! On our way to Vallodolid, we stopped for a tour of the cenotes of Cuzuma...a horse-and-buggy took us along the tracks on a former henequen plantation to three picturesque underwater sinkholes, perfect for swimming.

Pony who took us to the cenotes
Hard-working pony stops for a rest

If another buggy approached from the opposite direction, we stopped and the drivers lifted the buggy off the tracks to allow the other to pass...cute the first time, but not-so-fun after it started raining. The cenotes were lovely. Lots of ceiba tree roots hang down into the cool, clear waters.

Looking down into Cenote Chansinic'che
Looking down into Cenote Chansinic'che

Also lots of stalactites...beautiful limestone formations hanging down...

Stalactites in Cenote Chansinic'che
Big stalactites above us

In Valladolid we visted the market and a few churches. A small anteroom next to the main sanctuary of San Gervasio Cathedral was filled with tombstones.

Gravestones in San Gervasio Cathedral
Tombstones inside the church

I enjoyed exploring the city, but it was very hot and humid.

Dan and Carol in Valladolid town square
Sweaty in the town square

We cooled off with a swim at Cenote Dzitnup, the biggest one I have seen so far. Its huge stalactite formations were spectacular, but unfortunately my camera could not capture the underground beauty in the darkness. Valladolid is home to many zapaterias, where you can see leather sandals being made. I had to get new shoes, of course.

Leather shoe shop
Shoemakers at work

We also had the yummiest agua frescas in a food court by our hotel in Valladolid. We had been drinking agua frescas nearly everyday during our trip, most places offered jamaica (hibiscus) and limonada (lime); I also had a tasty melon agua fresca on Holbox. But these were the best. Dan had pitaya, or dragonfruit. It is not my favorite fruit, but it was so delicious and refreshing!

Dan drinking pitaya agua fresca
Chunks of pitaya and seeds

I had pina, or pineapple. Yum!

Carol enjoying pina agua fresca
Big pina agua fresca

After lunch I managed to lose my prescription glasses at one of the shops we stopped in...we were literally about to drive out of town when I realized this. We then discovered the shops close after lunch and do not re-open until 5 pm...siesta time...so we waited...and I got to practice my Spanish as we went from shop to shop..."Estoy buscando mis lentes. Estan aqui?" But in the end we found them, hooray! Then we were off to Coba, to climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid. We went early in the morning, but the ruins were very crowded...and not so well preserved...probably my least favorite ruins in all of Yucatan. But we did see crocodiles in Laguna Coba and other wildlife.

Long parade of caterpillars
Caterpillar parade on a trail

After Coba we drove up the coast and stopped for a swim in Akumal Bay to look for sea turtles. We saw three! First a medium one, then a wee little one eating turtle grass, which lead us to a big sea turtle. The big one swam fast. The next day we snorkeled in the coral reef off the shore of Puerto Morelos, so beautiful. We saw so many pretty fish and corals, including a huge brain coral....also, queen conches, an eagle ray, sea cucumber, and more...but no sea turtles. So Dan and I went back to Akumal Bay, where we saw two more turtles! I love sea turtles...swimming with them and just watching them swim makes me so happy. We also saw a family of reef squid, very cute with their big eyes peering intently...and a huge long barracuda! As I remember all that we saw, I wish we had an underwater camera to capture the beauty of the sea.

Pelican preening
Pelican preening in Puerto Morelos

The Yucatan Peninsula is a wonderful and beautiful place. We enjoyed our journey...and I hope to return again someday.

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