Yesterday we decided to get out of Dodge for a bit and explore the Quintana Roo countryside. Though Valladolid, a medium-sized colonial town about an hour west of here, was our eventual “destination,” one of my favorite things about day tripping of this sort is the chance to wander without a plan…to be open to wherever the road (or needs of children) may lead us.
This time, agendalessness turned out to be a fabulous idea, as I can’t really imagine a lovelier day, nor unforeseen treasures more delightful.
We packed the van with little more than bathing suits, sunscreen and a ukulele, stopped for breakfast at a family dive along the way, kicked around a bit in Valladolid and then, in a sweaty search for a cenote, ended up at a most incredible horse ranch atop an underworld fantasy.
Here’s a little taste of our journey (with descriptions after every third photo):
1. Wanda, our trusty and “well-loved” minivan, whose DVD player was broken (to my delight and the girls’ disappointment) by her previous owners.
2. Amazing chilaquiles (a personal favorite) at the hole-in-the-wall where Hunter buys lunch for his crews every day.
3. A friendly butcher doing his thing in the shade of a palapa.
4. A wet welcome to the horse ranch.
5. The place showed its age, charmingly.
6. Sky blue + duck skin orange.
7. A lienzo charro, or arena for tournaments of charros, torneo de colas and bull riding.
8. Oh how I’d love to go back when the place is packed with people and horses.
9. Cattle chute. Anyone know much about these events? Please share — I’m so curious!
10. From the wild side.
11. You could almost see the breath from his nostrils.
12. My favorite of the bunch.
13. The temperature drop halfway down had to be at least 20 degrees.
14. Unbelievable, and a likely site of Maya sacrifice.
15. Just before jumping.
16. Ukulele lesson #1.
17. Pit stop for refrescos.
18. Cocos frios. Nothing better on a 105 degree day.
Omg…that picture of the inside of the cenote is SO Indiana Jones!!! I am so thrilled by these pics. I love what you guys are doing and am so inspired by you!
Amazing cenote! I love aim-less drives and the joy of discovery.
Whoa. I actually don’t even understand. Is that cenote on private property? Is the platform something historic (or pre-historic) or something that the owners added or is it public . . . Seeing this is so intriguingly mysterious. And the light! My 8th grade students study the archeao-astronomy of mesoamerican sites and structures and the way the light coming through the opening of this cenote seems to line up with the platform in the water reminds me of a zenith tube from my students’ research. And Mayan sacrifice! Oh my! I am floored . . .
It was totally mind blowing, I have to say. It is on private land…a ranch that has been immaculately maintained despite the obviously-little revenue they must pull in out in the middle of nowhere. The light shone down from a big hole at ground level that looks like a well from the top, and the platform was built fairly recently of concrete. The light beam was surreal and the feeling inside changed continuously depending on cloud cover. Truly amazing to have happened upon it.
Wow wow wow.
Wow that is amazingly beautiful! What a swimming hole!
I am a child of the 80’s and can’t help but think of the Goonies movie…. at the end when they find the pirate ship. I love reading about your adventures in Mexico. I have always wanted to visit.
I too love a little spontaneous road trip, I get wanderlust to get out of the city and find a new waterfall to play under pretty much every weekend. Don’t really think I am cut out for city life.
I know a lot about Midwestern American rodeo, but I know that Mexican charreada are very different. It looks like the cattle chutes and corral are from charreada events, though. Basically, the riders compete in the practices from the old days when animal husbandry was very competitive from ranch to ranch…if you were not good at wrangling your own cattle and horses, they became fair game for anyone in the area who could catch and appropriate them. Many of the events show skill in roping, wrangling, and maintaining control over your herd animals, as well as riding skills. I imagine that the historical component of Mexican charreada is very rich, as well, with riders sticking to the old fashioned costumes and learning the old forms of riding to keep that alive today.
PS. the cenote looks incredible….where is it exactly?…I might be traveling through that way in a couple years…
Amazing day, amazing photos. Sounds like a perfect day! 🙂
Wow. That picture of the cenote gave me chills. So amazing and wonderful to experience. Wish I could have been there.
My dad was a regular at the Sunday charreadas. He loved dressing his two girls in cowboy gear and showing us off to all his friends. It was a treat for us girls. These pictures took me back to Guadalajara where I grew up. My dad is now in heaven but those days are forever imprinted in my mind.
mark this, and I will remind you….take us to this place on our next visit….k?
you got it.
I’ll be in Tulum in just a few weeks! I remembered reading this post of yours and wondered if you’d share the location with me.. I showed this to my husband and we would both love to experience the ranch and this remarkable cenote! we plan on renting a car for a day or two.
Thank you so much for your wonderful writings and occasional meanderings through your paradise.
Hi Tamika! No problem. It’s called cenote Suytun and it’s about half way between Tulum and Valladolid (about an hour away, if I remember right). It’s pretty incredible. Thanks for reaching out and enjoy!
Noted! Thank so much!