Merida Road Trips

Road Trip: Valladolid and Ek Balam

Quiet contemplation in Valladolid
Quiet contemplation in Valladolid

Just 2 hours from Merida (if you don’t forget to lock your house door and have to turn around only to discover that man, you are getting paranoid, and the fecking door was locked the whole time) lies the sweet town of Valladolid and the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam. We arrived with Seattle friends in tow, on a Sunday afternoon—a magical time of day in any Mexican puebla. No one works on a Sunday and the peaceful languid air is as soothing as the glow of the late afternoon sun.

Everything looks lovely in that light of day and Valladolid is no exception. After dropping our bags at the garden oasis that is Casa Marlene, we wandered out to join the Sunday afternoon strollers. Mostly we were in search of a cool drink and some decent food, so we headed towards the convent and Taberna de los Frailes for a late afternoon lunch. It did not disappoint. Under the waning light we enjoyed massive shrimp cocktails, tuna tartar, Yucatecan style salad rolls and glasses of chilled wine and frosty beer.

We window shopped our way back to the square, making note of the bespoke barber shop, handcrafted Dutzi bag store and tiendas filled with handwoven baskets and hats. The scent of the Coqui Coqui perfumery followed us down the cobblesone street as we sang and danced our way to Casa Marlene, a swim and a siesta. Yes, it was a fine lunch.

Unfortunately, our dinner options were less than stellar as Valladolid is still lacking in unique or varied establishments. However, our bog standard Yucatecan food was accompanied by a rockin’ 12 piece band who had all the locals up dancing on the square, so the night remained charmed to the end.

The next day we were up early to beat the heat and in 20 minutes were at the top of the Acropolis at Ek Balam. Compared to Uxmal and Chichen Itza, Ek Balam is an intimate place where you can really envision how the Mayan people must have lived. It’s also one of the few ruins you can still climb, which the 4 of us did, although one who shall remain anonymous shimmied down to earth on her backside.

A great overnight trip and one I would really recommend. I took a few personal pics and there are some nice photographs on – check it out.

In October 2012, I drove 6,800 kms with my artist husband, Ric Kokotovich (, and my dog Iggy, to spend 6 months in our adopted city of Merida. Leaving the fast paced world of Calgary behind, I packed my books, art and entrepreneurial spirit, and set off to explore what lay beyond the borders that had become my life. In October 2013 we hit the road south again, hoping to find out what ‘living the dream’ really means. This is my adventure.

2 comments on “Road Trip: Valladolid and Ek Balam

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