Food here is literally so cheap. This is the first thing I would like to mention, as I just ate the most delicious tacos of my life, and I kid you not, they were 60 cents (NZD) per taco. More on that later, but I am still buzzing with excitement about this foodscapade.
I arrived in Cancun 2 nights ago after an horrendous 24 hours (more?) in transit. 3 hours to Sydney, 5 hour wait, board a plane, wait 2 hours to leave, 15 hours to Dallas, one lonely night in an airport hotel, and 2 hours to Cancun. You do the maths (because I’m too full to). Finally I arrived looking like I had just risen from the dead. After sitting on the floor covered in luggage for an hour at the airport waiting for Meggie, we finally hopped on a bus and made our way to downtown Cancun.
Our first night we stayed in Hostel Mundo Joven. We chose this hostel primarily for the fact that it was close to the ADO bus station. The hostel was absolutely fine. Basic but clean, lovely staff, terrible wifi, bizarre shower. But the location was tops so I can’t complain.
Early next morning we hopped on the bus to Valladolid. I seriously rate the Mexican bus system. Approximately $10 each got us from Cancun to Valladolid- a 2.5 hour bus ride. The bus was clean, air conditioned, and on time. The bus system will literally take you anywhere, is super easy to navigate, cheap, safe and reliable. I can’t think of a better way to get around.
We arrived in Valladolid about 11am, and checked into our hotel. La Aurora Hotel Colonial was super impressive. At approximately $60 a night for a beautiful twin room in a colonial, well located hotel with a pool, this hotel is the perfect gateway to the Yucatan’s Mayan ruins (as well as super close to the bus station- a must when you are carrying your whole life in one massive backpack).
Valladolid was everything you would imagine a small Mexican town to be. Vibrant and colourful, this town is seriously underrated. You can walk around the streets at any hour and feel totally safe. The streets are filled with lovely people- street vendors, colectivo drivers (mini-vans that work like buses on a set route but an unknown/random timetable), children, backpackers, you name it. There is cumbia playing on every corner, and modest but gorgeous brightly coloured houses lining the cobblestone streets. We were absolutely in awe of this amazing town, and wished we could have stayed longer.
The afternoon we arrived, we motored straight out to Chichen Itza, again on the ADO bus. Obviously tour packages can be purchased to take you to and from the ruins, usually with some tacky lunch and show included- but we just ain’t about dat life.
Chichen Itza is a must see. It is more stunning than I could have imagined, and being there just drops you right into your history books. We didn’t hire a tour guide because quite frankly, we have the Internet, we can read. But that is of course a personal preference. Take note that there are a huge amount of people selling things, scattered around the site. This is of course to be expected, and doesn’t have to annoy you as long as you don’t let it!
That night, after an exciting cockroach-in-our-room incident (which was solved by our very brave host at the hotel) (Meggie edit: there were actually two cucuracha incidents at this hotel – but it was still gr8) we headed out for dinner in the central square beside the cathedral for some well deserved dinner at Las Campanas. We both ordered beef tacos which were served with a stir-fry style beef and vege mix, and a Margarita. The meal, including dessert was of course ridiculously cheap, and seriously filling. So we went home very content.
Today we had another busy day. We woke up early and found some random snacks for breakfast (an iced cinnamon roll from the supermarket), and this time caught a Colectivo to Ek Balam, as the buses for whatever reason weren’t running to Ek Balam today. This cost us about $5 each for a 30 minute ride. I found the colectivo extremely amusing. We hopped into this big mini van (it wasn’t actually a mini van, but I don’t know how else to describe it) (Meggie edit: it looked like a prison van – but like the kind of prison that you wouldn’t mind going to, and has sick beats) and the driver proceeded to play loud mariachi music, while simultaneously yelling out the window to passersby asking if anyone else would like to go to Ek Balam. We shared our ride with about 5 other locals, some of which were dropped off in a nearby town.
Ek Balam was great because although the structures are less awe-inspiring than Chichen Itza, the whole complex is much less touristy, and you actuall get the chance to walk and climb on the ruins. One of which was so tall that it had us in nervous hysterics while climbing up, forcing us to crawl like babies. Anna and Meggie causing a spectacle as usual.
After Ek Balam, we headed back to our Valladolid querido, and found some glorious food at El Atrio. This restaurant is near the cathedral, and features an awesome courtyard. Totally tranquilo. Food was cheap and coffee was strong. I even tried a Mayan hot chocolate, which was insanely sweet and had cinnamon and all kinds of yummy spices in it. Of course, they basically gave me a whole vat of the drink, and being Anna I finished it. Would not recommend unless your only plans for the afternoon include sitting in a chair in a Mayan Chocolate coma.
After lunch, we said goodbye to our gorgeous Valladolid, and hopped on the bus to Tulum. This 2 hour ride cost us approx $10. We arrived at our hotel Hotel Casa Sofia and were pleased to see it was very similar to Aurora. Colonial style, bright orange, with two levels of rooms surrounding a pool. We were greeted by our lovely host Angél who complimented our Spanish (tyt) and showed us our gorgeous room. Note, the wifi here is awesome.
We got ready for dinner and then rolled ourselves down the road to the best tacos of my life. Antojitos La Chiapaneca (aka the sick taco spot) is literal taco heaven. 60 cents gets you one taco with the most beautifully cooked meat you have ever eaten (choose the Al Pastor- pork). You then take your 500 tacos to the salad station, load it up with salad and sauce, and stuff your face. 10/10 would recommend.
Currently lying on the bed contemplating whether or not it would be acceptable to head back down to the taco shop for a midnight snack. Too soon?