Ek Balam & X'keken
We visited some sites near Valladolid, including the ruin Ek Balam and the cenote X'keken.
Visiting Ek Balam is a low key experience, at least compared to the chaos of tourist busses and vendors at the more famous ruins like Chichén Itzá or Tulúm. Also, Ek Balam is great because it allows climbing!
The main temple structure has been mostly restored, but its appearance is somewhat marred by thatched roofs protecting the simulated carvings from the elements.
For comparison, the backside of the main temple has been left in its unrestored state.
We gave Lyra one of her first opportunities to play with a real camera. She liked photographing the skinny puppies, ant trails, her pink bunny, and selfies.
Time for lunch! Food options were limited at the ruin, so we tried heading north into the tiny village of Ek Balam. No snacks were apparent there, so we drove south back towards Valladolid. We ended up stopping at Carnes Temozon ("Mozón") for a delicious lunch of a tamale and various meats in freshly handmade tortillas. Yum!
Cenotes X'keken (aka Xquequen) and Samula are at the same site. We picked one — cenote X'keken. Both cenotes are caves filled with deep green swimmable water illuminated by sunlight passing through a small hole in the ceiling (and some fluorescent lights). Both require the visitor to purchase tickets and then walk through a maze of vendor-lined paths and new vending buildings. Like Cenote Zaci in Valladolid, the water here was also teeming with black catfish-like fish, as well as some smaller skin-nibbling fish. If you stand long enough in one place, you can experience a nice tickly fish pedicure.