Those of you who know me know that I don’t really care for New Year’s Eve. I just don’t feel the hype. But I do like special events, music, and wine. I rung in this new year in a quiet, relaxed kind of way – this is starting to be the routine.
Valladolid is a small, calm city and surprisingly uncrowded. The main square is surrounded with stores and restaurants, with more spread throughout the city, but I was able to walk freely through the square with no one in my way. This was a nice break after being in Puebla, Canacun, and Tulum – all ridiculously busy cities. There were quite a few foreigners, and I’m not sure if they were expats living there, or travelers visiting. Either way, it was a nice international mix of people, and not too many of them.
So, on New Year’s Eve, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I didn’t particularly search for a wild nightclub or happening bar, but I don’t think there were any anyway. Instead, I played a poker dice game with Mexican men (and some hostel mates) at a local bar, read a book, drank a bottle of wine with some other hostel mates, beat up a pinata, and rang in the new year in the city’s main square, where they had fireworks, a burning of Judas, and live music to follow.
I experienced the burning of Judas a few years back when traveling in Oaxaca over Easter. Basically the same thing happened on New Year’s Eve in Valladolid, except on a smaller scale. Given the low safety standards in Mexico, it is up to each individual to decide how far they’d like to stand from the big burning thing with fireworks shooting out of it. Somehow I always find myself at the front of the crowd, and this time, something actually hit me in the head, right beside my eye… it’s occurring to me now that perhaps I should have been a little more concerned… ya know, in case it hit me in the eye or something… But all’s all right.
I was in Valladolid for a total of 3 nights. For the most part, I just explored and relaxed. But I did spend one day – new year’s eve day – in a nearby cenote with a French-Canadian family (a total of 8 extended members) who adopted me for the day. A cenote is like a sinkhole, often in a cave. This particular one happened to be open above, so a little sunlight came in. I did some snorkeling, some swimming, some relaxing. But the best part was the swinging rope (adventure is always the best part!).
There are only so many times you can swing into the water… eventually you need to add some more adventure to it. It took a little extra courage and a few (many) moments of deliberation and encouragement before deciding I’d take the next challenge. The guys I was with had pulled the rope as far up as it would go to get maximum swinging height. We had to stand on the edge of the stairs, (on the wrong side of the railing), and swing from there. Someone held me so I wouldn’t fall as I grabbed the rope handle, cursing with fear… but, as always, I did it. The swing was so much more fun with the extra height. As I flew through the air, a wave of excitement overtaking me, I prepared for the sudden jolt I knew was coming. The rope was attached to the starting point, so eventually it would reach its end and be pulled back. From the normal jumping point, this didn’t create much of a jolt, but from our new – higher – jumping point, the extra speed meant the jolt would be much stronger. “The cousin” warned me not to let the rope push me into a belly flop on the water, so I was focused on landing feet first. But no amount of focus can prepare you for a sudden stop and being thrown into the water. I didn’t belly flop but I did land flat on my side. It hurt like a b**** but, as always, laughter was my initial – and lasting – response, mixed with some tame cursing, of course. Good times.
There’s more to Valladolid than this one cenote I went to. Some other pics of Valladolid:
And, my new favorite dessert: marquesita!!! A marquesita is a regional specialty which, I learned, was first made in the 1940s. All the main squares have little stands that come out in the evening, selling only marquesitas. I asked the lady at the stand what is traditionally put in them, trying to get a more authentic experience, and she said cheese. I added cajeta, too, because… well, I LOVE cajeta (basically Mexican caramel, made with goat’s milk). After reading a bit online, I learned that the original marquesita was drizzled with a little cajeta, too. I guess my sweet tooth led me in the right direction this time. The stands also had nutella, bananas, and cream cheese. One even had different flavored batter – strawberry, blueberry, and another I’ve forgotten. The crepe is thin and crispy – more like a wafer, really – and it’s rolled up so you can easily hold it like a popsicle. I didn’t get a picture of myself eating one (sigh) but I did snap this:
That’s all for now, friends. I’ll probably have something about Cancun in the coming days, and I’m working on a photo-update, which will give you an idea of what I’ve been up to.
I hope your new year is off to a magical start (if it’s not, I urge you to remember that the beginning of a new year is quite arbitrary for us – magic can happen anytime). If you’ve made resolutions, I hope you are achieving them (and if you’re not, I suggest you read about how resolutions are basically ridiculous). All that aside, be well and keep smiling.
Hasta pronto, amigos!