Our first full day in Valladolid (pronounced “vye-a-doh-leed”), was one of our busiest, and funnest days.
First, we visited Casa de Los Venados, which is an 18,000 sq ft redone house museum in the historical center that is owned by an eccentric older couple from Chicago. Outside of being a gorgeous home architecturally, it houses over 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art.
We went on an hour long tour in Spanish and met the owners, who actively live there, but allow house tours at 10:00am everyday (and collect donations for entry to support the local community).
Then, we rented some bikes and headed 5 kilometers out of town to out to Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. It’s an old plantation that how houses a restaurant, pool, and a cenote (more about that in a second).
At the Hacienda we visited our first of 3 cenotes (pronounced “say-NO-tays”) for the day, which is sort of like an underground river/pool in a cave that is now accessible in some degree because the part of the roof has caved in. There are over 6,000(!) of them on the Yucatan peninsula and were the primary source of water for the large Mayan cities that filled the peninsula. Now, they are beautiful swimming holes with crystalline water.
Not only was this cenote beautiful, it had a very fun rope swing.
First, in regular motion:
Then, in slow motion:
Some words of advice that someone should’ve given the guy who broke the pull-in rope(twice): Make sure the pull-in rope isn’t between your legs when you jump and make sure you let go before the pull-in rope is fully stretched. And, trying to go two people at once is a bad idea (I have the bruises to prove it).
Next we headed out toward two side-by-side cenotes, in which we somehow managed to route ourselves through the town dump. On the plus side, we got to see vultures up close. And did eventually get there.
One of the cenotes, X’KeKen only had a small sunroof and was otherwise a dark cave (with lights installed).
The other cenote, Samula, was a little more inviting. It had a little island that is made from the rocks that caved in from the ceiling.
All of the cenotes are filled with small and medium sized black catfish – who are pretty cute, blind, and seemingly oblivious to us because we nearly swam into them several times.
All in all, it was a great day – followed by a quick nap and dinner!