Once we crossed the railroad tracks the road turned into a single lane dirt path. It felt like we were the only people out there as we didn't pass even a stray dog.
We arrived at Hacienda San Lorenzo and the Oxman Cenote just at they were opening so we had the place to ourselves. We paid the $4 entry fee, locked the bikes to a tree, and descended 8 flights of stairs down through the door of a hut to the cenote.
We had the place completely to ourselves before anyone else came, including the attendant! We were giddy with excitement, it was so incredible. The water is a deep clear blue with just some small black catfish swimming around. There are ropes that cross the water and along the perimeter. Those dangling things are roots of the trees above reaching all the way down for water. We swam here for 5 hours, we couldn't bring ourselves to leave. There were never more than a few other tourists here. We took a break and ate a tasty and enormous plate of nachos poolside at the hacienda on the property.
This Cenote had a super fun Tarzan swing that swung you way out to the middle and launched you into the water. So great!
The next day we got a 3$ colectivo taxi for a 30 minute ride to the Ek Balam ruins and the adjoining X'Canche cenote. I've seen lots of ruins, but not Mayan ones so I was looking forward to it. We arrived about 9:00 am and were just about the only souls there. There is a shaded and pretty path that takes you to the ruins.
It only took about 90 minutes to cover the whole site, including climbing to the top of the main pyramid. Surrounded by jungle, it's one of the newly excavated sites and stunning. Climbing the steps is tough, but coming down is vertigo inducing. I just went down sideways with my eyes glued to the steps. I didn't dare look out while descending or I would have gotten really dizzy. Tip: bring a bandana or something to wipe the continuous pouring of sweat off of your face. It's wicked hot.
Time for another cenote! From the ruins there is a path to the cenote ticket booth. The whole place is very organized with toilets, changing areas, showers, and lockers. Tip: bring your own lock for the lockers unless you want to rent one for $1.
This cenote is an "eco park" so it's petty organized and offers some interesting activities. You can just pay the $3 enterance fee and walk 2 kilometers on a shady lane to the cenote. We opted for the complete package where for $17 we had a round trip ride in a bicycle taxi, enterance to the cenote, 2 turns on a zip line that went across the cenote, and then repel down into the water below. Utterly fantastic and worth every dollar.
We were content with the little rope swing and 10 feet high diving platform....until we saw someone jump off one of the stairway landings. My best guess is it was about 45 feel or so. Maya knew she had to do it! It took her a good while to work up the nerve but by the time she was ready she had the whole place cheering her on.
Returning back to Valladolid was easy as there was a colectivo waiting to be filled. We ate quesadillas and empanadas for lunch for a whopping $3 then returned for siesta at the hotel. Speaking of the hotel we are staying at the brand new Casa Valladolid Boutique Hotel which is a restored colonial building and is absolutely beautiful.
We are truly enjoying our time in Valladolid. We are safe and at ease. Walking at night for the square back to them is completely benign and safe as there are many people walking around. Thus far there is a notable absence of catcalling and unwanted attention. People have been extremely kind and helpful. We have 2 more full days here before departing for Bacalar.
I'll end with picture of the many vintage VW bugs we see every 5 minutes here!