We chose to end our trip to Mexico in Cancun (photos) and to take a little vacation there. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Vacation? I thought you were already on a vacation.” We think of this as a vacation since it is so different from our regular type of travel. And, Cancun itself is very different from most of the rest of Mexico. Some people would say that it is not the “real” Mexico. But it is a very beautiful place with terrific places built for tourists to enjoy.
Chichen Itza (photos), pronounced chee–chen eat-sah, is the best known and arguably best restored of the Yucatan Maya sites. Since it was included in the list of the new seven wonders of the world, everybody wants to have a look and busloads of tourists are brought in daily. We chose to book a room in the small town of Piste which is just to the west of the entrance to Chichen Itza. This allowed us to walk the mile or so to and from the site.
Merida (photos) is the capital of the Yucatan state of Mexico and is the center of the Mayan culture for the Yucatan peninsula. The Mayan settlement that once stood where Merida now stands came under Spanish rule in 1542. The Spanish conquistadors proceeded to build Merida into the regional capital, dismantling the Maya pyramids using the material to build the cathedral and other important structures, a familiar theme. The cathedral, Catedral de San Ildefonso is said to be the oldest church in Mexico and North America.
We didn’t really do very much in Campeche (photos). Campeche state lies in the western side of the Yucatan and is the least visited part of this region. It is home to vast tangles of jungle and the Yucatan’s lesser known Mayan ruins. The city of Campeche has been painstakingly restored in a full range of pastel colors. It lies along the Gulf of Mexico with a mostly western facing coastline.