Day 7: Valladolid, Mexico
While Tulum was glorious, I had suffered a harsh burn from my fun in the sun and I knew it would take a few days to recover, which meant it was time to move on. According to Wikitravel, Valladolid is the less touristy option to stay in when visiting Chichen Itza so off I went.
As the largest of all archaeological cities of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, Chichen Itza is the grand daddy of all ruins in Mexico. Postcards of the ruins grace every souvenir shop in the Yucatan province and it is a popular day trip for all travelers.
Quick History Lesson:
Chichen Itza was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for over 1,000 years. The Toltec people of central Mexico arrived and make it the most powerful city in Yucatan.
With this new arrival the buildings were created in a mix of Mayan and Toltec design. The Mayans eventually revolted against the rulers. But the site remained a place of pilgrimage until the Spanish came in the 16th century.
In 1988 it was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also it was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The funny thing about independent travelers is that we hate tour buses. We don’t want to be anywhere near them; we don’t want to be around tourists and we often talk about how to get away from them.
The irony is that we’re all tourists.
We’re all outsiders traveling to the same sites to take the same photos. Tour buses may have cliché tourists but we’re all clichés; I’m a cliché backpacker – although no dreads yet.
We were staying at Hostel Candelaria, which reassured me that if I took the 8:15am bus to the ruins, I would have a couple of hours before the fanny pack crew arrived.
Our hostel was right, we arrived at 9am and there were less than 20 people on site. We had time to walk around, take photos and enjoy the site.
The ruins were spectacular. While you could not climb the main structure, you could walk through the smaller ruins to see the carvings and sculptures.
A few times we followed a tour group. But I was confused as to how the tour guides knew so much. There were signs by each site that said not much was known about the Mayans and everything was a best guess.
Around 11am we had seen all of the ruins and taken all the obligatory photos. We were starting to feel the intense heat from the mid-day Mexican sun. It was time to go home.
As we made our way back to the entrance we were engulfed in a sea of tour bus passengers. Most of their owners were indistinguishable as their faces were hiding behind video cameras. Oddly enough under the pretense that someone from home would actually want to watch these videos.