Friday, 23 March 2018

One Night Stand with Soul Sucking Fish

Valladolid, Mexico, February 8th to 9th 2018

On my way from Holbox to Merida I decided to stay in Valladolid overnight, because of interest but also because of mistakenly leaving a gap in my hotel reservations. It was good bad luck, since Valladolid is a lovely place; beautiful, historical, elegant in a somewhat old fashioned way. The hotels seemed to be a tad cheaper than in other cities I visited – or maybe the valladolidians are just used to posher environments – so even I could afford one night in a fancy hacienda style hotel by the main square.

Softer hues of Valladolid
I quite enjoyed my hotel's restaurant and its Plato tipico.

Even restaurants around the main square are affordable and, at least the one I stumbled into, very good – even though I found myself sitting on a miniature chair by a miniature table, feeling quite Alice.  And, just like in Wonderland, a parade marched by all of a sudden. A miniature parade.

Right, food. There is a dish called Plato tipico, which translates roughly as Hello, I'm a tourist and can't decide what to eat. I ate that a lot. At its best, it can be haute cuisine symphonic assortment of best dishes of the area – and at its worst a selection of leftovers from previous decades' shoe industry. Ordering a plato tipico is living on the edge, baby. If you're a fan of Finnish Christmas ham, you should also try Cochinita pibil, slow cooked pork.

From the restaurant I spotted what I thought was an art gallery. As there were more than five people in and it was quite late, I suspected a vernissage. In hopes of free win... fresh art I rushed in and to the first floor to find something actually more interesting: Palacio Municipal's great hall with its huge paintings picturing the history of Yucatan. Interesting exhibition, beautiful building, nice view to the main square.

At the time I reached the gallery, the crowd had dissolved

If you'd like to visit a cenote, a sinkhole with fresh water in it, placed in a cave / half in a cave / no affiliation to a cave whatsoever, there's one beautiful half-in-a-cave example handy available in Valladolid's central area, cenote Zaci. As the tourist guides and Instagram constantly remind, you can swim in most of the cenotes and that holds true to Zaci, too. For a second I was sorry I didn't take my swimsuit with me and was too shy for a public skinny dipping, being sober and all. Then I noticed the ominous black, eyeless fish slithering in the water, just waiting to suck my soul to an ancient Mayan Hell, so I didn't feel so bad anymore.

Zaci is quite pretty, and in the mornings peaceful, too
Evil fishfolks, pretending to be harmless

I arrived to the cenote early when it was still closed (opens at 9 am), so I had a walk around the block to kill some time and get me an ice cream. As I happily consumed the smurf-coloured delicacy in one of the area's typical confidant park seats, I noticed a yellow church. As visits to museums and churches are an essential part of my adventurous travels, I headed in. The church was still half closed, but a friendly janitor waved me in anyhow.

St. Anne's turned out to be one of the most beautiful churches I've seen. It is not one of those overtly decorated piggy banks of God the most famous churches tend to be, but simple, even cumbersomely modest building, oozing the devotion of it's builders and users rather than showing off Jesus' wealth (irony intended). The detailed blue hued glass painting of the patron saint high in the wall is a beautiful contrast to the rougher shapes of the rest of the building.

In reality the glass painting is way bluer than my camera thinks

The peace of mind acquired in the church didn't last the trial of the Valladolid ADO bus station, though. About the station: There's one gate to the platforms, which you are not allowed to go through until your bus arrives. The gate area is full of people listening to the officer announcing the incoming buses and people elbowing their way to the just announced departures. I didn't succeed in finding a spot where I could hear the announcements and not be on everybody's way, so I shifted back and forth. I have to admit that I had a minor tourist meltdown after waiting for an hour, then being told my bus had gone already without me hearing the announcement, no money back – insert meltdown here – oh wait, no, there it is now, run! – insert one happy tourist elbowing her way to the bus heading to Mérida here.

Pieces of information
 • Other people exploring Valladolid: Gypsynesters, Charlie on Travel, Goats on the Road, Mangostania (in Finnish)

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