VALLADOLID AND EKBALAM: A DAY OF ADVENTURE WITH MIGUEL, KAT AND MANDA.
We began our day trip departing from Villa Nicte Ha at 9:00 AM here in Akumal, with local guide Miguel Martinez of Namaste Transportation and Tours, heading to Valladolid and EkBalam. We traveled south on highway 307 to the Coba highway that cuts inland from Tulum. Our first stop was at Arte Luna Maya to visit our friends Jose and Julia Perez, master artisans of reproductions of classic Maya art. Their mediums include wood, maya graphic leather art, plaster and limestone. This was a great opportunity to commission a new leather painting for Nicte Ha; it will feature the Maya goddess of sea, Acquatica. What a wonderful way to start the morning, supporting our friend’s businesses and contributing to the local economy!
Our next stop was the village of Temozon, famous for its beautiful handmade wooden furniture and smoked meat.Of course, we had to buy something at a local shop that featured rows of pink flamingos and other interesting yard art, then continued on to the gorgeous colonial city of Valladolid.
We arrived just in time to be escorted on a private, guided tour through one of the most lovely restored colonial villas and private art galleries, Casa de los Venados, owned by John and DorianneVenator. This private collection houses over 3000 pieces of Mexican folk art. Tours in English and Spanish are given most days starting at 10:00 am. Admission is free, however tour participants are asked to make a minimum $5.00 US donation that is distributed to local charities.
From Valladolid we continued on to the Late Classic period (600-900 ACE) archaeological zone of EkBalam, which in Maya means black jaguar. Restorations started in 1997,revealing an imposing acropolis featuring the earth monster, preserved as the finest example of stucco surviving in the northern Yucatan. This special site is less crowded than the heavily visited cities of Chichen Itza and Coba and that made our time most enjoyable. On a heartfelt note, there are a lot of stray dogs at EkBalam and a recent visitor; Sharon Ceslak has started a campaign to address the issuewww.gofundme.com/balamdogs. Please click on the link to support the program to feed, treat and control the population of feral animals in the region. A bag of kibbles in your pack would also be appreciated.
After leaving the archaeological zone we visited the little village oasis of EkBalam, where we found local master hammock weavers displaying their colorful wares. We bought a double orange and yellow hammock,once again happily supporting the local economy.
Finally, it was time to enjoy a late lunch on the square in the historic district of Valladolid, at the El Meson de Marques. The ambience can be best described as faded colonial elegance. Our attentive server prepared fresh guacamole at our table as we sampled delicious local dishes, along with refreshing cocktails. After our meal we enjoyed a lovely walk around the square absorbing the beauty of the yellow trees in full bloom, the beautiful shops and colorful local people enjoying another day in the life of Yucatan.
Back in Akumal, we thanked Miguel for arranging such an interesting and amazing day!