Valladolid, perfectly situated old Colonial town in the Yucatán, offers you not only easy access to Mayan Ruins at Cobá, Chichén Itzá and Ek Balam, but it stands alone too for its VIBRANTLY COLORFUL ATTITUDE & LOCAL FEELS. Did you know that they offer the chocolate of the Mayan gods here? Did you know that there’s a converted estate dedicated to celebrating Mexican Artists? Did you know of a Catholic Monastery/Church here that’s centuries old and was built by the Maya during colonization? With lots to see and such a relaxed atmosphere, you can’t help but enjoy your stay here in the heart of the Yucatán.
Valladolid certainly has its little treasures and I’ll share with you some of my favorite things you can do in such a walkable city. Every time I stepped out of my hostel with my little map, I realized that I didn’t really need it anymore. Valladolid is small enough that you’ll get familiar with the lay of the land after one day. The cathedral, the chocolate museum and the monastery are all just a short walk if you stay somewhere central. I already talked about my personal favorite of these, la Fabrica de Chocolate Artesanal Chocol Haa in my previous Valladolid post (click here), but I can summarize: CHO-CO-LA-TE (en español) es el mejor regalo que hemos dado al Mundo. Can you imagine a hot cup of NOT-COCOA in the dead of winter? Can you imagine reaching for that comfort bar of NOT-CHOCOLATE when you need that little boost? As you curse the day because there is no chocolate in your life. . .
I think you and I and the MAYA know that without their love and sacred tradition of drinking CHOCOL HAA thousands of years ago. . . We’d be Lost.
So for all those chocolate lovers out there you have been informed, VALLADOLID is worth a visit. Now for all the ARTISTS/ARTISTAS out there, or perhaps ART LOVERS & ENTHUSIASTS, Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer) is a must visit. There is no entrance fee but a suggested donation and from what I remember they have very specific operating hours so check online before you head over. All the guests must visit by a guided tour where you can explore endlessly room by room and discover works of art in every nook, at every turn, an overflow of creativity here. With an array of art for appreciation (sculptures, paintings, carvings, furniture and so on) and gawking too, I left inspired.
Casa de los Venados
Convento de San Bernardino de Siena
Remember the Franciscans? Well they landed in the Yucatán with the colonizers and got to work here in Valladolid to have a massive Monastery/Church constructed. . . by whom you say? Well the MAYA. Desde 1552-1560 se construyó este convento, un maravilloso ejemplo de las habilidades de los Maya / a stunning example of Mayan skills. Entrance is free. Bonus*** I got to experience the Monastery all to myself, as there was not a soul around to bother. It was morning time, but not even early. Walking those hallways, full of secrets from the Colonial times, I felt an air of Chilling Beauty here. Chilling? Why? Well, because I know what its purpose. You wouldn’t have an imposing structure built unless you wanted the inhabitants/subordinates to feel your power. Let’s not forget that the Franciscan Monks sole purpose was to convert the Maya into believing Christians / Los monjes Franciscanos objetivo principal fue convertir a los descendientes mayas yucatecos a Cristianos.
I think what I enjoyed most was hearing a little bit of history from a local who offered a sort of “tour” where you tip at the end. . . He found me midway through my exploration of the Monastery and started telling me why the building was designed as it was. Apparently the Maya applied a lot of the same rules used to build their great temples to building this monastery. Lots of natural light floods the hallways and courtyard and this is because they understood ASTRONOMY so well, the movement of the sun and moon, and starts too. He told me the Maya also honored the theme of DUALITY in their paintings and artwork throughout the church. It’s always been something that didn’t quite settle in my stomach, the thought of forced conversion to some foreign faith/religion/belief system. It was often by force too. At least they aren’t forgotten, the Maya, who have a legacy if locals are still telling their story. I appreciate the artistry of the Maya, visible all throughout the Monastery. I especially love the bright pink hues that have aged with time, over centuries and yet were spectacular in person and photos too. I can’t really picture dozens of holy men (monks) walking these pink hallways daily on the way to prayer and such, pero que Chingón! The monastery’s exterior on the other hand is a complete contrast, with much more muted colors of beige and yellow.
On a totally separate note, I have goals to be as cool as these LADIES IN WHITE one day. Las Comadres you could say, which is understood as close female friends. If I had been wearing a white dress, I would have surely joined them to share in some gossip. . . or at the very least I would have asked for some RECETAS YUCATECAS/ RECIPES OF THE YUCATÁN. Next time!
Local Eats; La Comida Yucateca
I was ecstatic to have stumbled upon LA CASONA DE VALLADOLID one rainy afternoon while I retreated from the rain. I was pleased with their selection, mostly local traditional dishes from the Yucatán. For instance, you won’t get pinto beans here because BLACK BEANS/FRIJOLES NEGROS reign supreme throughout the region. Another thing that is typical is HARD BOILED EGG/ UN HUEVO COCIDO added to many dishes, used like a topping for tacos, or Relleno Negro, which is meat (turkey or chicken) in a gravy sauce made of black beans spiced to perfection.
SOPA DE LIMA- another treat of a dish, a simple chicken or turkey soup with onions, pieces of tortilla chips and of course spices and LIME/LIMA.
COCHINITA PIBIL- something everyone recommended to me that I didn’t get around to tasting, it’s an elaborate pork meat marinated and cooked in the earth in a Pib (a pit). Of course it has just the right combination of spices too. To enjoy on tacos, with rice and beans to accompany it, or on typical Salbutes.
SALBUTES- have a Masa de Maiz (a corn dough) as the base and puff up when fried. They are like tacos but puffier, or like sopes but not as dense. . . and they have various ingredients on top, like meat, diced or pickled onions, slices of aguacate, pieces of hard boiled egg, etc. . . If they have beans and are fried to be a bit crunchier, then they are called PANUCHOS.
AGUA DE TAMARINDO- The Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that grows in tropical climates. They make a delicious drink with just TAMARINDO, AGUA/WATER, and SUGAR/AZÚCAR. Tastes of a refreshing drink of the gods.
CHOCOL HAA- That’s the true drink of the gods in the Yucatán, a hot and potent Chocolate Drink. Pictured below is my Chocolate Drink with Milk, prepared as you order, pure pleasure for the senses. Make sure you try different pieces of chocolate (they add anis, honey, crushed chillies, cinnamon, etc) and different chocolate drinks if you get the chance. It’s as good as it gets here!!!
It you make it over to La Casona de Valladolid, ***Bonus, there is an exceptional display of Mexican Artistry in THE MASKS/ LAS MÁSCARAS lining the walls of the restaurant. Take some time to appreciate the craftsmanship of artists from all over the country.
And my final words are about a gorgeous moment I witnessed of LOVERS IN LOVE at 11am. . . Tan temprano? Sí. No hay que esperar a mediodía para la pasión. I watched a couple passionately kissing in the patio of the restaurant where I ate my breakfast. Oh to be in love, living each day minute by minute, or better said momento a momento!!
When her heart jumped, when he caressed her face, when their lips met, over and over. When they couldn’t stop smiling at each other, like no one else existed in the world; enjoying each other; breathing each other. Estar Enamorado/To be in Love. . . it can truly be a beautiful thing. #awakeninginMex
Click here to explore with QU-EEN another city full of Mayan treasure and legacy. . . Con todo mi amor <3!