This day we headed to Chichen Itza. Woke up bright and early to catch the 0730hrs colectivo just north of the ADO station on Calle 46 in Valladolid. It was under an hour ride in a significantly reduced quality van than we rode along the Mayan Riviera. This one had spare wooden seats to fill in space beside the doors, and for much of the ride there was someone seated behind the back seat. This ride only cost us MXN30 each despite being a longer ride.
We arrived at Chichen Itza before any large tour buses, but there were a couple 12 passenger vans already unloaded. It cost a staggering MXN216 for a ticket to enter the site. Another Dan (from Ottawa) mentioned that guides cost MXN500 for a tour, but since we were so early we might be able to bargain down for a shorter tour so that they could be back in time for the bigger buses. The lowest the guide would go was MXN450, well above Ottawa Dan’s ambitious MXN200, but that may have been an unlucky choice as the one we approached was a Senior Tour Guide.
Ashley was able to get many pictures. Several without any people in them, even ones of the main pyramid. We meandered for about two hours, while stalls to sell handicrafts were being set up inside the site. That seemed a little strange, but I guess the vendors and crafts were Mayan and they were only set up on paths or the edges of the site, well out of the way of viewing the archeological foci.
We were back in Valladolid in time for a mid afternoon lunch of Sopa de Lima (chicken and lime soup) and Poc-Chuc (not sure, but a meat maybe pork, that is a specialty of the area).
We also stopped by the Mayan Chocolate factory for a tour. In fact, one of the reasons we stayed at Hostal del Fraile was its proximity to the chocolate factory. We understood the basics of the chocolate making process from previous tours, but here we got to witness someone making the chocolate. Mayan chocolate is all made by hand; even the grinding of the beans. It’s a much more natural process and doesn’t contain any preservatives. As a result, the 100g boxes ranged in price from MXN80 to MXN130. At the end of the tour was a tasting with about 5 kinds of chocolate, one of which was 100% cocoa; that was some strong flavour. One of the most interesting properties of this chocolate was that it didn’t melt in the heat because it has such a low percentage of cocoa butter. I’d be surprised if M&Ms didn’t have something to learn from this Mayan chocolate. We had to test this ourselves so we made room in the budget for a box. So far so good, no melting even in 35 degree heat.
Dinner was supposed to be leftover chicken tortillas, but instead the hostel had a big cook up with the staff BBQing, making guacamole, and ceviche (fish ‘cooked’ using only lime juice, no heat). Having had it before we weren’t worried…much.