Saturday, June 5, 2010

Izamal Day Trip

My Georgia friends decided that another cenote dip was going to be just too much water-related activity, so they asked me if we could go to Izamal for the day.

"No!" I answered, in as firm a voice as I could manage at the ungodly hour of 8:45 in the morning, but they were insistent and so, off we went, stopping only at a Pee-Mex station to fill up the LawsonMobile tank.

The ride was a little longer than anticipated, both for my guests and for me, as I always forget that you have to get all the way to Kantunil, where the cuota highway starts, before you can think about getting to the turnoff to Izamal (if you are taking that route, of course). By the time we got to Izamal, the blistering May sun was already wreaking havoc on the yellow city and my allergy was becoming insufferable, so much so that the first stop was a pharmacy where I bought some anti-allergy medicine. There was nothing to be done about the heat, though, so we went from shop to shop, finding something interesting to look at in every nook and cranny of the main square Izamal commercial district from oilskin fabrics to plastic containers to strange tshirts and plastic backpacks with Winnie the Pooh on them.

The highlight of the shopping portion of the excursion, however, was the Casa de Artesanias where the handcrafts were not only interesting, but well made and affordable as well. It was interesting to note that if you were so inclined, you could get a massage just off the gift shop and museum. Separated by only a sisal curtain, your relaxation could be somewhat undermined by nearby shoppers or museum goers. On this visit, though, the air conditioning was out in the entire building (for maintenance reasons) and sweating under the hands of a masseuse was not anyones idea of a swell time.

 From there, the obligatory and hot visit to the convent/monastery of Izamal, pointing out the various details that make it famous among all the Yucatecan churches. A curious little man offered a guided tour in English but once he started, we quickly asked him to revert to Spanish and I translated as his pronunciation left something to be desired.

Then, a climb up the pyramid left me breathless while my much younger Georgia teenager bounced up and down the rocky stairs with the ease of a... teenager. After admiring the view and enjoying the convection oven breeze at the top of the Izamal world, it was time for lunch at the Kinich restaurant. Who should be there, waiting to sample the food but the Casual Restaurant Critic, who joined us for lunch and will most assuredly write up something on the blog soon. The lunch was Yucatecan food, filling, tasty and served with amabilidad by Wendy, our waitress.

After all that activity and the food, there was little else to do but head back to Merida; the idea was to visit the hacienda San Jose Poniente on the way back and after much touring of the town of Hoctun,where it was supposedly located, we found it - outside Hoctun on the old Cancun-Merida highway. And it was closed.

A very enjoyable day trip, and if it was a little cooler, we might have spent some more time in Izamal itself as it is quite the charming little hamlet.