Day 8: Coba to Valladolid - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 7, 2023

Day 8: Coba to Valladolid

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Today we tried out the idea of leaving in the dark - a logical ploy to escape the sun! We rolled out at 6 a.m., which in this time zone and latitude is about an hour before dawn. The temperature when we started was about 17, which felt very cool but not actually chilly. So we just wore the regular clothes that we would have through the day. With the real flashers and the headlights, we actually felt more visible than in some daylight conditions - such as riding into the the sun, Even so, it was a little spooky.

A little spooky
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Out along the highway, there are often little shrines, which we assumes commemorate road accident victims. We came upon one of these in the dark and were surprised to find a candle burning inside. Clearly there is a mourner that is a really early riser, unless the candle was a 24 hour burning variety, which looked possible. Anyway, someone was on the job.

More spooky
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By about 7:15 the sun was well up, and our adventure in the dark came toan end. The road we were travelling, toward our first town - Chemax - was quite broad and smooth and with a faintly marked shoulder that afforded some sense of security. Most traffic was going in the opposite direction from us, which kept them out of our way, except when someone oncoming would suddenly pull out to pass.  

The road gave the appearance of just something pushed through the jungle, and indeed that jungle was trying to grow back over the road, meaning that we had to watch out for branches or brush as we tried to more or less cling to the road side. However, at rare intervals there were paths or trails hacked into the brush from the road. We assumed that these led to some sort of habitation, and perhaps if we had had a drone, we would have seen all sorts of houses and farms a few hundred meters in.

Where does this go?
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Here someone has parked their typical half moto half bike at the "top of their driveway".
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The turnoff to Chemax was totally unmarked, perhaps reflecting the small size of the town. We could have carried on without turning, but we had some kind of fantasy hope of finding an OXXO, or other source of food. It felt good to be on the Chemax road, because any fast cars or gravel trucks on the main road were replaced with slow moving cargo bikes or cargo bike/moto conversions. Typically these had abuela in the front and someone pedaling or driving from behind.  Dodie thought this would be a good arrangement for her, although surely if we were doing it the vehicle would be a shiny Hase Pino.

The unmarked turn
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Grannies on the move!
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Hase Pino. Hase is a German brand, meaning "hare".
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All of these activities were carefully watched by this vulture. But with our early start, there would be no collapsing on the road today!

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Scott AndersonBlack vulture! We don’t have them in the western US, where they don’t make it north of Mexico.
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3 weeks ago

Chemax is a small and traditional town, and even began with this really traditional looking dwelling. 

This was a complete house, not an out building.
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Kelly IniguezThis is the kind of house Jacinto grew up in. One big room. Dirt floor. It's an art to rethatch the roof. I bet there are fewer and fewer people who know how to do that.
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3 weeks ago

The main town had the usual ramshackle collection of low rise concrete buildings. The density, if not the height or quality, did increase a bit toward the central square, in front of the hulking but pretty Spanish colonial church.  We found no food, really, certainly not any roadside stalls or OXXO, but there were a few butchers, with their products hanging in the front. These of course were butchers, not delis, so forget the smoked meat sandwiches!

Entering Chemax
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Chemax is very quiet!
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No deli products here!
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Downtown Chemax.
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The church has pretty decorations.
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All of the churches in Yucatan have the same hulking square appearance. Typically they are locked as well.
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Ok, we're leaving town!
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The cemetery is one of the more upscale neighbourhoods of Chemax.
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The cost of getting a place here in the cemetery is quite extreme, since you would need to be dead, but it's nice!
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Back on the main road, its smooth and wide with a great shoulder, but quite a few noisy trucks.
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Tikuch, our second and last town before Valladolid, made Chemax look like a metropolis. However it did also have a colonial church, done up in the yellow that is famous in the region.

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Dodie remains vigilant for birds, and although I might be saying I will create an album of birds spotted, Dodie is really the spotter.

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Bill ShaneyfeltNice photo! Might be a rough-legged hawk.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rough-legged_Hawk/id
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3 weeks ago
Once again, I am more likely to spot nice scenes at ground level.
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Just outside of Tikuch, we did finally come to an OXXO., and this one even had a little shaded picnic ground. This was good, because the temperature had now risen from that 17 degrees to about 40. Dodie was really wilting. But a cold coffee drink from OXXO helped. There was also a water tap by the tables, and we were able to soak our heads stuff wet washcloths in our clothes - almost as good as a cenote!

As we sat, vigilant Dodie spotted a nearby male iguana, with a female in the distance on a rock. We threw the male some carrot chunks and he thrilled us by coming to eat them. So I followed with some of my Nutella sandwich. He actually licked the Nutella before gobbling the bread. Quite a discerning iguana!

Our pet iguana
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Bill ShaneyfeltBlack spiny-tailed iguana

https://animalia.bio/black-spiny-tailed-iguana
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3 weeks ago
Here boy, have a carrot!
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On the highway near our home a lot of gravel trucks seems to trundle up and down. We hate them, for being so big and noisy and usually going too fast. Here too, it's infested with them. What have they achieved in all thier years of blasting up and down? Here in the photo we have found a small lair of them, probably taking a break for a smoke and planning who to terrorize on the road next!

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When we looked at the gorgeous planters for sale on the road from Tulum, I remarked that the local people do not seem to really raise plants in planters. Dodie said sure they do, and I countered with having seen not a single marigold or petunia (staples of container gardening out our way). Since then, Dodie has been noting container plantings and other flowers by houses. The photos below either make my case or hers. The caladium below is nice, but the pots in the next shot are just buckets!

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As we enter Valladolid, we are in the geographic centre of the state of Yucatan. That  helps to make Valladolid a focal point of Yucatecan food - such as the Poc Chuc we stressed in our last visit here. So this sign on the outskirts is not kidding - this really is the place.

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As we entered the outskirts of Valladolid, we had the typical congested and not so impressive surroundings. This of course is nothing compared to the extensive disasters outside of old towns in European cities. Avignon, for instance, had hours worth of junk before we could even reach the old town walls.

Entering Valladolid
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In quite short order we reached the more orderly, pastel painted downtown.
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Valladolid is famous for the style of its colonial houses, which are one story rather square affairs in solid rows,  with pastel paint. There are  commonly courtyards beyond the bland exteriors. Interestingly, Valladolid was at the heart of the "Caste Wars" around 1847. This was the last uprising of the Maya against the Spanish.

And here is the church on the central square, just across the street from our hotel, the San Clemente.
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The San Clemente, our hotel, has a really pleasant interior courtyard and pool. We had stayed here before, and knew enough to ask for a ground floor room, but not number 110, which shares a wall with some sort of noisy compressor. Our room - 107 - turned out to be great. It's large and swallowed the bikes easily, has A/C, and is on the ground floor.

Part of the hotel courtyard
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Inside San Clemente
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The pool is not huge, but it's nice. About 7 feet at the deep end.
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After cooling off for a bit in the pool, we set out for a walk around the square. Our main goals were to try out and HSBC ATM we had spotted, and to look for postcards to send to the grandkids. Postcards are becoming a rarity. In future we may need to only send them a Whatsapp, or something.

The church was the first stop, but it was locked.
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In the square we ran into our first of the regionally famous "love seats". 

"These chairs have various names: “Confidentes” (confidant), “Tú y Yo” (you and me), “De los Enamorados” (for those in love) and in more technical terms “Sillas Binarias” (binary chairs).

A popular local legend tells the story of a man who had a daughter he adored who was being courted by a young man of the village. The father, jealous, asked them as a condition of their courtship that they only venture as far as the benches in the park. They accepted, but the father then realized that the traditional park bench gave them plenty of opportunity to physically close to each other, so he decided to create the “silla tú y yo”, which allowed them to speak to each other and look into each other’s eyes while always maintaining a discreet distance."

These "courting seats" are common in this region. They face a couple towards each other, but of course, no touching!
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Hey, a pigeon is a bird too!
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The central square has lots of shady areas. We expect it will also be filled with food vendors in the evening. But we will be asleep - waiting for dawn so we can take off again.
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We found the HSBC machine, inside a really wonderful food court where many little restaurants are all offering essentially the same Mayan food.

This was our first try with an ATM, since we had brought a fair amount of cash that our bank back home had sent to us in the mail. Now we were using a new 10 currency pre-paid credit card, that we had loaded with pesos, Canadian dollars, and euros. The machine proposed to concert the Canadian dollars to pesos, and I missed the button that would have stopped that. So it had a field day, with all the great fees and charges you see on the receipt. After we had studied that, we went back in and got the thing to just straight withdraw pesos from the card. Even with this, converting currency and taking it from an ATM is never cheap. Except for the risk of carrying a lot of cash, the best is really to bring it from home.

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Ben ParkeI’ve been using a Schwab high yield checking account card. Supposedly No atm fees. Probably not available in Canada though.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Ben ParkeThe key feature for us is the multicurrency. And yeah, never heard of Schwab in Canada.
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3 weeks ago
Sue PriceOuch! We have a Scotia Bank account that we use here in La Paz as there is an actual Scotia Bank here!
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3 weeks ago
At the food court, each of those approximately 20 arches houses a little kitchen. In 2018,we got our best Poc Chuc ever at one of these. Poc by the way just means grilled and Chuc is charcoal.
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Dodie observed a man with some nice looking food from this stall, which is an out pf place Chinese restaurant. We asked the man what he got, and then went for some ourselves. Now there is real Chinese food, as in China, and gloppy American Chinese food. But this was Mexican Chinese food! The veggies tasted like veggies! And the best part was fried bananas.
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Each restaurant lists its specialties, which are basically the same - a catalog of Yucatan - Mayan food!
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We walked out into the square, which already had a few food vendors, including two with ice cream. We got this cone from one who had one flavour only - coconut. It was great!

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Dodie next scored big, by finding a shop with a lot of postcards, covering spots of interest  in all the surrounding areas. These really are rare now, so she got a goodly selection. The shop also had lots of the souvenirs typical of this place.  I shot a few of them, but our camera is looking very fuzzy. Could be jungle crud/ or the humidity. Even our fingers are always feeling rather sticky.

The skeleton thing predates the movie "Coco" of course, but that movie helps to explain it. It is really a common cultural theme.
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These would be loosely the equivalent of the Santons we found at Marseilles.
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Ah yes, the love seats.
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With that, it's off to bed. At dawn we will leave town for Tizimin and after that the bird paradise of Rio Lagartos. But we'll be back. We need to return, after all, because we forgot to photograph that great Chinese food!

Today's ride: 64 km (40 miles)
Total: 271 km (168 miles)

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Sue PriceSo hot over there! Good to get out early and beat the heat! Hope you see lots of flamingos up there!
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3 weeks ago