Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Dzitas, Panaba (17-25 January)

January 31, 2006  
Topics: Mexico


now we are already for 3 days staying in the capital of Yucatan province, Merida. We are staying with Carlos, a member, in the middle of Merida city. To the Zocolo, what is the central market place in Mexican cities, we need only about 5 minutes. We are here – like many other tourists – trying to find out more about Merida’s history and daily life. A more detailed describtion of our stay over here will follow soon.

Now we invite you to read about the previous days, before we came to Merida. Enjoy the stories! 😉

Katja & Augustas


Tuesday, 17 January

Coba ruins were not for our budget. The entrance fee was 4.5$, moreover, very soon the ticket office was full of tourists, which made this place for us less attractive.

Later, after cooking some food in the shadow, we were back on the road. Very soon we got a ride to Valladolid by a Swedish guy, who came to Mexico for 10 days with interest to visit archaeological sites in Yucatan peninsula.

Valladolid was a bit bigger place than we were used to in the last few days. We checked Internet, bought some food, and walked direction the end of the city. We passed a university which had a little bit of green area in it’s territory. There was a person around, most probably one of the teachers, whom we asked about the possibility to camp in the university. This guy was not able to take decisions and thus advised us to come back at 6pm when the director of the school is supposed to be there. At 6pm it is already dark, thus we decided to continue walking.

In the end of Valladolid there was a luxurious house with a little bit of grass outside the fence. We decided to camp there, though the strong barking dogs from the property aside. Soon after setting up the tent, a strong rain began. We decided to get out of the tent and take a shower under the rain, as we were quite sticky after travelling under +30°C and having had no shower.

During the night the two dogs from the house tried to disturb us, but… we survived 😉

Wednesday, 18 January

In the morning we intended travelling straight to the North, towards the sea. But then two European tourists we stopped were heading towards Chichen Itza – the most famous Mayan pyramid. We were not sure if the high price of the ticket and the amount of tourists at the site will attract us, but we took this chance.

We arrived at the museum around 8am. The entrance fee was too bad – 9.5$, and very soon crowds of people were arriving with buses one after another. We soon said “no” to this tourist attraction and left the place.

Just outside the main entrance to the parking area, we found a secret path through the forest to the Chichen Itza ruins. This way is used by the locals that are selling drinks and snacks in the area of the open-air museum as well as for the ones working on preserving the ruins. The path brought us to one of the parts of all the ruins. To tell the truth we did not go further into the area as we would have been too suspicious. Imagine two persons with big backpacks and without yellow tickets-bracelets on the hands whereas the backpacks usually are left in the ticket area…

Chichen Itza is located next to the village Piste where one may find a lot of hotels and restaurants. In the afternoon we found a small camping place in Piste and decided to stay there for one night for 3$ per person.

In the campsite we also met two German pensioners travelling with their caravan car for already 1 year in Canada, USA and Mexico. The caravan was with a German licence plate from Dortmund! They shipped the car from Bremenhaven to Canada. That couple has to go back to Europe soon, as the allow only a period of one year for keeping European cars in America.

Thursday-Friday, 19-20 January

Next two days we spent 20 km to the North from Chichen Itza, in a small village called Dzitas. The driver who gave us a ride helped out to get in touch with the president of the village (in other words, the mayor), which let us put a tent in a big empty building used for certain village fiestas. It was just a 40m×80m construction with 5m height walls, and about 1m space between the walls and the roof. There were even poor toilets.

We arrived to Dzitas the day when the big 4-days festival of Saint Ines has started. Every evening they had traditional Mayan bullfights (corridas de torres) and even bigger events (traditional dances and pop concerts) during the night, starting after midnight! It was out of our abilities to join big concerts every night (between 1am and 5am), because it was out of our daily routine.

The first evening the president invited us to watch a bullfight. During the whole show they tortured 5 bulls. Moreover, the first bull – which was actually a cow – was killed and the meat was sold outside the arena. We did not enjoy such treatment of the animals and left the place before it was finished. The next days bullfight was full of clowns and torero-Lilliputians.

Saturday-Wednesday, 21-25 January

On Saturday we were hitch-hiking towards the North of the peninsula. One young guy brought us from Dzitas to Tizimin. From there we got a lift by a small truck with a lot of boxes of tomatoes. It was going to a small village called Panaba and we were squeezed in the back of it between those tomato boxes. In Panaba we asked if it would be possible to buy some of their vegetables, but the drivers did not want to hear anything about trading and gave us a bunch of tomatoes and hot chilli peppers for free.

Saturday afternoon in Panaba was very quiet and empty. We walked to the end of the village and started hitch-hiking. All the people were going just 5km and then turning to the right, towards San Francisco village. Finally we lost patience and asked the next driver if he knows some place where we could put a tent, because everywhere around us we could only see private ranches. The driver immediately got an idea for camping and invited us into his car. He turned direction San Francisco and somewhere in the middle of the ranches he gave us into the hands of one farmer, who invited us to stay in his ranch as long as we want. Later we found out that this farmer was a respectful person in Panaba – Doctor Hildo, who besides his pharmacy and ranch, also works as a teacher in the school.

It is hard to describe where we were staying for the next 5 days. The super small village San Francisco was about 3km to the right, and Panaba was in about 10km other direction. The ranch we stayed was empty, nobody lived there, only Hildo’s relatives and himself were coming daily for taking care of 90 cows.

We placed our tent under the shadow, had coco-nut tree in front, and thousands of oranges and tangerines on the trees in the garden.

Every morning we had a chat with 69 year old Domingo, the uncle of Doctor Hildo working on this ranch. Domingo learned us a lot about cattle and showed us as much as possible. Being grateful for that we loved to share our -for Mexican habits- strange food we cooked. In return Domingo brought fruits and cake from Panaba in the mornings. We loved every minute we could spent with him and it seems he enjoyed it at least the same.

The last day during our stay Chivi, the brother of Doctor Hildo, brought us and his whole family to three cenotes in the ranches near Panaba. Cenotes (“sink holes” in English) are the holes in the earth made by asteroids ages ago.

The first cenote was a small one in Chivi’s garden. The second and the third cenotes were situated in the ranches owned by other farmers.



  1. Ann says:

    It doesn’t read like you had a very good time or learned anything about the Yucatan. I think whenever a person travels, you should read some books and get information about the area. I spent 4 weeks in Me’rida & vicinity & had a wonderful time. I would suggest “The Maya” by Michael D Coe written in 1966, I bought it second hand for $8, also “Yucatan Before & After the Conquest” by Friar Diego de Landa c1566, I read the translated with notes by William Gates 1978 again I bought it in a second hand store for $5. This would give you a foundation for viewing the pyramids & appreciate the Mayan culture which is still present in the Yucatan. You would have found out that Yucatan has no above ground rivers, only cenotes which are underground rivers. Who cares what an ignorant american translated the meaning in English. I visited 3 cenotes & they were beautiful, I went swimming in each of them, what a wonderful experience I had, I met many wonderful people also. I feel sorry that you spent any money to go someplace & not have any idea of where you were & what to see & do.

  2. LILIAN says:

    you should be more opened mined respect to other kind of lifestyle, and search more information about the place you´re going, cos for the things i´m reading i see that you don´t have any idea of meaning an reality there, the bullfights isn´t a mayan tradition, that came from the spaniers, the cenotes aren´t holes of asteroids, are natural holes made because of the water, cos in yucatan aren´t rivers or lakes there´s just cenotes. chicen itza isn´t the most famous pyramid of mayan culture, chicen itza is an archeological mayan zone, where is the temple of kukulcan wich is one of the most representative mayan pyramids. i don´t where are you from but i thing that the price of entrance to the archeological zones are not expensive, well chichen yes it is, it´s an abuse just because of the wonderful, and i think that if you´re really interest about the place you visit the crowd doesn´t matter, you go and enjoy what you were looking for. and to finish i don´t find nothing interesting in this report, maybe cos also you did, and is a real pity. open your eyes, and admired mexican cultural diversity.

    a mexican girl

    • Hi lili, the facts and information which we write in the stories are based on what the people, local people, tell us. We do not read travel giudes or historical books about the country. We trust people. That Chichenitza is not a pyramid, yes, in this place probably was our mistake. Also, we are not providing a travel guide type of infomation. We share our personal experiences about meetings with locals. People – is our priority.