After a morning of historical sights in Valladolid and a refreshing lunch at Yerbabuena de Sisal we walked back along Calle 54A and then turned left onto Calle 39, back to the centre of Valladolid making a loop through the old town.
Arriving back closer to the centre soon enough we walked past shops selling cheap mass produced products, quite a contrast to the little shops filled with handmade souvenirs we had seen that morning. Whether old or new I think children love to browse these kind of places. We reached the busy bus station, where lots of local woman sold their goods on the street, fruit and vegetables but also some homemade pastries. We also saw plenty of Taco stands busy with lunchtime trade.
Our short visit to the Mercado Artesanias proved to be quite a disappointment. I desperately wanted to buy a traditional huipil dress, with their beautiful flower embroidery, but this did not seem to me to be the right place to buy. For a dedicated craft market it was not the best place in town by far and there was better on offer elsewhere.
Luckily, I had spotted a shop selling the dresses on the corner of Calle 41/42, next to Parque Francisco Canton, and this is where we were headed. The shopkeeper was very friendly, and not pushy at all, which I liked a lot. I tried on a few of the dresses – unfortunately most of them were far too big and long on me. I settled on one that was different to the ones I originally wanted, but I knew there would be plenty of other opportunities to find the right one later in the holiday, I also felt that this shop, despite the great selection was perhaps not the best value for money.
Moving on to explore more of the town, and just as we walked along the park, an older lady approached us with her handmade hammocks. Jerome wanted to get one and chose a orange/yellow one, which at just 600 pesos seemed a bargain.
Our next stop on our walk was the Museo San Roque, which was a very small museum where we saw Mayan and colonial artefacts, sadly they have not translated the history of the town into English so we struggled a little, but did find it possible to explain to Jerome the key facts. We exited into the garden and found one of those heroic statues that are everywhere in Mexico, and I always find very interesting.
Jerome by now was impatient to get to the cenote for a swim. On the way to it we passed another church that was on my list of must sees, the yellow church of Santa Ana. We were not able to go inside, as it was closed and I had to be content with taking photos through bars of the closed gate.
Luckily Cenote Zaci was less then a block away. A cenote is a naturally formed sinkhole, unique to Yucatan, they are usually connected to underground rivers and store ground water which has been used as drinking water since ancient times by the Mayans. Many were considered sacred, some were even the site of sacrifices. These days they also make a great tourist attraction as they present perfect opportunities to swim and cool off.
When we got to the entrance we saw that there were many stalls that sold their local craft goods to curious tourists from all over the world. These stalls would be at most tourist destinations on our trip and can be quite varied in price and quality. The stalls sold their usual mish mash of traditional clothes, masks, jewellery and other souvenirs. We saw some woman who stitched the embroidery onto the dresses and tops of the huipiles. I wanted to look and see if I could find one, but the swim had priority.
Thankfully Cenote Zaci is one of the less popular cenotes on the Yucatan peninsular, with only a few of the more adventurous tour buses stop here, as being in the middle of the town it is not easy for the larger buses to visit. We paid the small entrance fee of 30 pesos each and entered the cave on steep steps. We had brought our swimming costumes, goggles and a small towel in our backpack, there were no changing rooms so we had to change with the towel wrapped around ourselves. The cenote was not crowded but there were a few people around. The water was refreshing, the perfect temperature to cool off in the heat, and a beautiful slightly cloudy turquoise blue colour. The ceiling of the cave was impressive with some stalactites and water dripping off the plants and roots that hung down from the cave’s ceiling above us. Some braver tourists started to jump off the three meters high side of the pool.
Cenote Zaci has a water depth of about 30 meters and therefore it is safe if you jump far enough away from the edge. On our way out we even saw a brave local jump from the path maybe 20 meters up! Jerome eventually braved himself for the 3m spring and jumped into the water as well. We loved our swim at the cenote, it made an interesting change to the pool and sea. I am sure all children would love a swim here. Do not forget to bring swim vests or armbands if the little ones need them, although at most cenotes you can rent one if necessary.
The sun was already almost too low to reach inside the depth of the cave and we decided to walk back to our hotel. We finished our energetic day exploring with a laze by the pool so Jerome could have another swim. In fact Hotel Zentik Project also had an underground swimming cave rather like a cenote lit at night by candles. After more delicious Mexican dishes and fruit cocktails for dinner, we descended into the dark of the cave and swam to the lights of the candles in the warm water.
Please also see my post about Valladolid on ONE DAY ITINERARY