The ruins at Ek Balam, near Valladolid, Yucatan


Pages  1  |  2 |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7 |  8  |  9 |  10 |  11 |  12

Page 3: Chichen Itza to Izamal, January 25 - 26

We left Piste early, before 7:00 am, but Wally had a flat just north of the village. We cycled to Izamal via Dzitas, rather than following the main highway, 180 libre. The road passed through the villages of Quintana Roo, Tunkas, and Chabac. Stilpech was a pretty village just before Izamal. The ride was again about 40 miles. It was much nicer than we'd expected, since we had thought the cycling in Yucatan would be uniformly flat, hot, and boring. Surprisingly, the road we took to Izamal, especially west of Dzitas, had a number of gentle, rolling hills, and quite a few trees here and there so we enjoyed intermittent shade. Also, it was not far from one village to the next, so there was enough variety to keep things interesting.

We arrived in Izamal not long after noon and went directly to Macan Che, a little B & B that was delightful — brightly colored cabanas scattered through jungly gardens and pathways. Ours was just a few feet from a small swimming pool with a rough stone bottom designed to look like the bottom of a cenote. The friendly owners were an American couple who bought the place six years ago and made many improvements. On top of everything else, the included breakfast was delicious and elegantly served. We liked it so much that we stayed two nights.


Izamal is a small colonial town, under 20,000, known as the Yellow City because all the buildings in the historic center are painted the same golden-orange-yellow color. It has a quiet, peaceful feel, and we liked it as much as any other town in Mexico that we've visited.

On the morning of our layover day, we set out on a 30-mile loop ride. Left, leaving Izamal in the morning. We aimed to be back by early afternoon, and we made it.


We cycled through the villages of Tekapan, Teya, Tekanto, and Citilcum. It's easy to confuse these places — we already have — but each was slightly different and the ride was again a pleasure.

Every one of these small towns is served by amazing numbers of bicycle-taxis and bicycle carts. In fact, bicycles of all sorts are more common than cars in the small towns of Yucatan.

Late each afternoon we walked around Izamal. Izamal is known for a convent built by the Franciscans, I think, which has the second biggest courtyard in the world — exceeded only by St. Peter's in Rome.

The Convent at Izamal is the large yellow building above, center. This photo was taken from atop one of th e pyramids.

The Spanish built Izamal on the site of an ancient Mayan city. In fact they destroyed a Mayan temple and used the stone to build the huge convent. (Apparently this was a common practice of Spanish conquerors — a way of asserting the superiorty of Christianity.) There are still the remains of pyramids around the town. Right, through one of the arches of the convent's courtyard, a pyramid can be seen in the distance.


We climbed the two largest pyramids, both only partially restored.

This is the largest of several pyramids that are actually in the center of Izamal. It was once a great Mayan city.



Izanal has a small but well-done folk art museum. The light was low when we visited it, so every photo I took came out blurry — with this exception: A Day-of-the-Dead depiction of cyclists. We hope it is not a foreshadowing of things to come on our continuing bike tour.


<< Previous page           Next page >>


Pages  1  |  2 |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7 |  8  |  9 |  10 |  11 |  12