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Another great photo by Sam MeachamColonial Mexico just a few hours from Cancun

A strategically placed city, Valladolid (vay-ahh-doe-leed- see wasn't that easy), is a great place to get away from the hustle of the tourist ridden beach towns and see some authentic Mexico. Located exactly between Cancun and Merida, Valladolid was for years a stronghold of the Mayan rebels who fought the colonial Spanish for control of the region. During one of the many wars a group of Mayan insurgents hid in the secret cenote Zací and later slaughtered those Spaniards who were not fortunate enough to leave for Merida that weekend.

Thanks Sam Meacham, great photo!By Bus Or By Car

There are several buses that leave Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum daily for Valladolid. Make sure to get on a bus early so you can enjoy the town. One recommendation is the Valladolid for the night, Chichen and Rio Lagartos do it yourself tour. This 2-day getaway gives you a great variety of the Yucatan's wonders. You can see both Valladolid and Chichen Itza in a day with Aero Saab Airplane Tours Playa del Carmen.

A Walk in the Park

Valladolid is very manageable. Good reasonable local restaurants, local crafts at very un-Cancun-like prices, and a taste of Old Mexico. You will know when you arrive in downtown by the main plaza. Bordered by relatively inexpensive hotels, try the Mesón de Marqués. This quaint, clean hotel affords a nice garden view and central location. It also faces the Cathedral of San Gervasio. Hop in the pool to relax after your visit to Chichen Itza. There is also a hotel called Ecotel Quinta Real 4 blocks from downtown Calle 40 No. 160-A x 27 with air conditioning.

Retro Colonial

Convent of Sisal, Valladolid, Mexico

Over the past few years the city of Valladolid has been renovating Calle 41 a now converted pedestrian walkway leading to the Church of San Bernardino and Convent of Sisal. This is reported as the oldest Christian structure in the Yucatan built in 1552. Walk around the grounds and peer into the church if it is open. Relatively bare, the angry Mayans removed many of the Christian artifacts from the church in one of their numerous revolts.

Big Hole, Big Secret

The now open-air Cenote Zací located 3 blocks from the main plaza is a must see for all visitors to Valladolid. This enormous, and quite scenic cenote, was covered by a roof of stone as little as 200 years ago, quite young as far as cenote ages go. In the 1600s Mayan warriors spoke of this hidden spring, which also provided cover from the Spanish. During the war of the Castes in 1847 Mayan invaders convened here to discuss battle plans and eventually ran the Spanish out of town. Of note, the Maya left Valladolid when the planting season came the next year, as they had done on many occasions, a clear example of priorities for these indigenous people. Possession of a city was useless if they could not feed their families.

See Flamingos and Pyramids

Valladolid is located just 40 minutes from Chichen Itza and about 2 hours from Rio Lagartos. Take the opportunity to see thousands of flamingos along with flocks of herons, ibis, cormorants, and gray pelicans. If you are lucky you might see a few white pelicans, they are about the size of a house. When you get to the docks there are plenty of boats waiting for you. The going rate is about $300 pesos for a 2-3 hour tour up to 5 people and lots of birds. The boats are not allowed to go into the actual reserve for protection reasons, so please do not encourage the captains with extra money. You will see flamingos on the shorter trip. Guaranteed!

Catedral of San Gervasio, Valladolid, Mexico

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