As with most Latin American towns, the cathedral marks the city center
fronted by a plaza called the zoloco. The old city walls are mostly still in place, as are the city gates and many of the garrison towers. We stayed in the heart of the old city which has a lot of charm to it – the buildings are painted in a multitude of colors and many have been turned into hotels with open courtyards in their center.
Out hotel, the Hotel America was one such place. Unfortunately the rain poured down the afternoon we arrived and copious amounts of water came into our room. They mopped it up, but when it rained again later, we had another small flood. Also our room faced onto the street, so it was pretty noisy, especially when some car alarms went off at 2 a.m.
We love to visit markets when we travel. There is lots going on and you get to see the local people, what they eat, what they buy, etc. Often there are great bargains to be had and unique foods to try. Campeche has a good sized, bustling market and we enjoyed walking around it for a while and picked up some fruits for lunch. We bought a mamey sapote fruit and some saramoyo (custard apples). We also bought some of the Mexican cinnamon that Kelly really likes. What you may not know is that in the US (and probably Europe too), what is sold as cinnamon is actually cassia, a closely related, but different spice. True cinnamon is lighter in color and has a sweeter more floral scent. Although you can get true cinnamon in the US, it is hard to find and much more expensive.
I also like markets because there are usually some interesting images to be had. I decided to leave out the photo of the cow’s head (might be a bit too gruesome for some readers!) but the nearby butcher was an interesting study. Also where else are you going to find the chicken vendors setup right next to the flower sellers? Requiem for a pullet, maybe.
We left Campeche and drove for about an hour and a half to Kabah, a small Mayan ruins site which has some wonderfully intricate decorations and long wall of masks, many of them of Chac, the long nosed god of rain, lightning and thunder.
We had a picnic lunch outside the ruins and tried our fruit. The mamey is supposed to be very sweet with the flavors of sweet potato, pumpkin, and cherry. I don’t think ours was fully ripe as it really didn’t taste sweet at all. However, the saramoyos have a beautiful floral flavor and sweet custardy flesh, but they are full of hard seeds that you need to spit out.
Once we had finished lunch it was on to the main stop of the day, the major Mayan site of Uxmal, which has a number of splendid ruins, including the Governor’s Palace, over 100M long and considered perhaps the finest pre-Coloumbian building in Mesoamerica, the nunnery, a quadrangle of buildings with cell like openings, the sorcerer’s pyramid, a very tall and unusual rounded temple, the cemetery and several others. There were lots of interesting carvings including many animal forms such as birds, turtles, and jaguar. The cemetery carvings looked very similar to some 16th century gravestones we had seen in Malacca, Malaysia two years ago.
From Uxmal, we drove on to the capital of Yucatan state, Merida, where we are staying for three nights.