The Yucatan, Mexico | 2023

Photo of festive streamers draped over Parque Candelaria Park in Valladolid, Mexico.
Square in central Valladolid, Mexico.

I've decided to share my travel photos on this website. I have yet to establish a coordinated structure. Bad Stephen. So let's begin in the beginning of 2023, in the Yucatan.

First stop — Playa del Carmen

Just down the coast from Cancun, Playa del Carmen is no longer the small town I remember the first time I visited the Yucatan peninsula. It's 5th Avenue has grown from restaurants and chilled out bars to a constant party. It's not my scene but there are still stops around town I love. Such as my favourite, tacos de cameron [shrimp] at La Florista.

Yep, resting right beside the highway that runs through town, this place was packed with locals the first time I came here over 15 years ago and it's still it. Battered prawns + habanero hot sauce + mayonnaise on a corn torilla = happy me. So happy that I never (ever!) remember to take pictures of my food. So enjoy a picture of the beach and a Mayan ruin instead.

Up next, Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid is a small colonial city smack dab in the centre of the Yucatan peninsula. This was my first visit here. You can tell that there has been a huge influx of tourism and money in the last few years. I love the old colonial streets, especially at dusk. During the day, the problem is that they are very good at trapping heat and the exhaust of the traffic that barrels down them like salmon leaping over each other as they rae upstream.

So Valladolid was a mixed bag for me. I loved the textures and colours of the buildings, but the hotel I was staying in — bursting with character but lacking in quiet — was less that ideal. I didn't sleep well and so I ended up wandering around like a bit of a zombie. It didn't help that, having adjusted to a terrible life in a beach-side town, I was now adjusting to life in a dusty town with not a playa in sight.

But Stephen, I can hear you saying, what about the cenotes? Ah, cenotes.

In case you didn't know, the Yucatan has no above ground rivers. Instead the peninsula literally has water for a basement. Cenotes are the cave-like formations where these underground rivers and resevoirs meet sunlight and our plane of earthly existence. If this sounds a little mystical, it shouldn't surprise you that many centose had deeply spiritual signicance. Here are some photos...

I lied. I don't have any. I was too busy sleepwalking through town, I didn't make it to any. It didn't help that Cenote Zaci in central Valladolid is currently closed for renovations. Once I've cooled off in one, or talked to a ghost jaguar beneath full moon during an eclipse, I will post pictures. Until then, this an oasis in Valladolid.

Pool at the Casa de los Venado

Oasis in Valladolid — Casa de los Venado

Nice pool, right? It's not open to the public. That's because it lives at the Casa de los Venado, which is a gallery of sorts. The owners, two (obviously wealthy) Americans, have generously opened their home to the public so everyone can enjoy their incredible collection of Mexican folk art. It really is spectacular. There is technically no admission. They ask for donations, which they in turn donate to worthy causes. I think this is pretty special.

So why am I using a picture of the pool as my feature image? Did I mention the cenote was closed? It was hot, I was hot, this looked refreshing. Here is some of the art in the casa.

Next up, Mérida, the capital of Yucatan estado. I'll do that as a separate entry as I've already broken all the rules and featured far too many images on this page. Bad SEO. Bad Stephen.