We returned to Cancun from Havana but stayed in the Mexican part of the city near the bus station. The hotel, although cheap, was new and luxurious. Unlike the resort area, this part of the city was bustling with real life. Mexicans are very social and family orientated and the nearby park was filled with families and food stalls so we wandered around and had some street food. The food was great (except the sweet corn coated in sour cream and cheese - that was just too much!). It was great to appreciate the simple things.
The next day we took the bus to Valladolid, a 'hero' city of the revolution. The population is primarily Mayan and we felt a little giants. The weather was stinking hot and walking the streets was exhausting. Near to our hotel was a large cenote. You can visit and swim but we chose to simply sit at the restaurant and observe - our lunch was so enormous we'd probably have sunk straight to the bottom had we gone in.
We wandered the streets, admired the cathedral and did some souvenir shopping. I bought an embroided Mayan shirt, which I thought looked great but Shelly remains rather dubious.
During the evening we walked down to the old monastery of San Bernadino of Siena to watch the nightly light show. The narration was in Spanish but the gist was easy enough to follow - times have been generally tough for Valladolid. The Spanish conquerers oppressed the Mayans of the Yucatan, which resulted in several peasant revolts, which were brutally suppressed. In the later 19th century Valladolid was the centre-point for the anti-imperial revolution, which bought more conflict and destruction to the area. After the overthrow of the imperial government, Valladolid became an industrial and agricultural centre, before becoming the cultural capital of the region it is today.
We considered several destinations after Valladolid, but the constraints of time, distance and money meant Merida was only really viable destination. We'd visited Merida 10 years earlier and had liked the place alot. We did several day trips from there, including the magnificent Mayan temple complexes at Chichen Itza and Uxmal and a trip to see the flamingoes at Celustun. This time we were just going to take it easy.
As in Valladolid, the weather was shockingly hot and stifling. Shirts were saturated through moments after venturing outside. Foolishly I suggested we walk from the bus station to our hotel as I'd misread the map and thought it was only a few blocks. It proved to be more than ten blocks. Fortunately the hotel had a pool so we went straight in to cool off.
Our time in Merida was largely spent looking for souvenirs and wandering around looking for restaurants. There are a lot of restaurants in Merida taking a contemporary spin on Mexican staples and the food is excellent.
After a couple of days it was time to bid Mexico adieu. I miss Mexico, the vibrant pulse of life and its amazing food. I don't miss the heat though.