Sunday, March 6th, 2022
Woke up this morning and immediately booked an Airbnb in Bacalar for $33 a night. It’s official, I’m leaving Merida for the final two weeks of my trip. I certainly haven’t done everything there is to do in this area but I feel I’ve seen enough and am ready to roll on.
Deb and I took a Didi to the Alamo car rental near the airport (highly recommend). Jess met us there. After a very thorough walk-through of our Nissan hatchback rental, we piled in and headed for the cenotes at Ecotours “X’Tohil” in the State Reserve. This was an authentic cenote experience. They had many horses pulling carts that fit up to four people and rested on a rail line. The three of us piled into a cart and away we went. We loved the raw, unspoiled, rickety experience down the bumpy tracks.
Our first cenote appeared underwhelming. About a 20 ft diameter hole in the ground leading to a ladder that went down a much smaller hole. 40 steps down that ladder and a giant cavern full of stalactites hanging over a beautiful, clear pool of water. We jumped into the refreshingly cool water and took in all of the details of the cave that surrounded us. Bats were hanging from many different areas. Occasionally a couple of small birds would fly down the entry and towards the back of the cave. A few small fish swim around us. We enjoyed this first cenote for about 25 minutes before climbing back out and jumping aboard our cart to the next.
En route to our third cenote, we hit a misaligned transition in the track and came to a halt. Jess was tossed a few inches in the air as we tried to sort out what happened. Apparently, we needed to sit in certain parts of the cart to better distribute our weight. Jose, our driver, put the cart back on track and specified where to sit. We made sure we were in the right spot the rest of the way.
All of the cenotes were unique and beautiful. They all had some form of stalactites and/or stalagmites. Some had roots running the entire depth of the entry down to the water below. Some were a little colder than others. On our way back to the start, we encountered a few other parties on the tracks. Whoever had more carts going in the same direction could stay on the track while the other stopped, tied up the horse, and manually lift at the cart off the track. As soon as we passed, the cart was put back on track and reassembled. We paid $600 pesos, or about $30, for our cart, thanked him, and headed towards Izamal.
Driving in Mexico
On our way, we passed another small town, Homun, where many people were out and about. Sunday markets were clearly popular, as was trying to sell cenote trips to gringos driving through. The primary mode of transportation in these little towns is a motorized rickshaw of sorts. They dominated the roads. And speaking of roads, there appeared to be far looser road rules than what I’m used to. Cars would park on the street towards opposing traffic, making me wonder if I was going the wrong way down a one way street. Passing is frequent in town, so it’s common to see vehicles coming right at you.
Buildings on corner lots reach right up to the street so anyone entering an intersection needs to creep out to the middle to see if they can cross. There are also frequent and sometimes very large speed bumps that are effective in slowing traffic. There’s a lot of activity that makes it feel like you’re only moments away from having an accident.
Once we got to Izamal, the yellow city, we punched in the address of a recommended restaurant, Kinich Izamal. The wait was an hour so we walked around town. It’s a beautiful old Mexican town. There is a lot of charm in the architecture and bright yellow buildings. We walked through a small market, then to the convent that hovered over town, before checking out one of the remaining Mayan pyramids. It is amazing that such ruins still exist and are largely intact. We went back to the restaurant where we were seated and ultimately enjoyed salad, Chaya empanadas, panuchas, poc chuc, and Chaya drinks. Everything was delicious. We talked much less as we enjoyed all of the traditional Yucatan dishes we ordered.
After dinner, we got in the car and headed back to Merida. We didn’t quite make it back before dark which made for a little more stressful driving through the small, dark streets where even large speed bumps were concealed by the darkness. Despite occasional doubts, we made it back in one piece and all enjoyed our excursion outside of Merida for the day.
Amounts in Mexican Pesos
|Total Spend||$1150 (~$55 USD)|