We love road trips, short or long, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the adventure. One of our favourite road trips is to a small Spanish colonial town - Izamal - between Cancun and Mérida.
|Monastery under restoration|
The easiest way to reach Izamal is by driving up the four-lane toll highway 180D from Cancun. The first time we visited Izamal we turned at the exit that is closer to Mérida. The next time, we turned off at the exit closer to Valladolid – which made for an interesting trip along a narrow winding road, through three very small pueblos, Kantunil, Sudzal, and Juan Pablo.
We were the subject of much curiosity and gawking as our Canadian car slowly navigated the “topes” (speed bumps) and narrow shoulder-less roadway. I'm sure our friends were convinced we had absolutely no idea where we were headed as we squinted at the windshield, muttering "I don't remember this. I don't remember any of this." We just hadn't realized that there were two different exits off of the main highway.
|Marketplace in centre of Izamal|
Eventually we arrived at the centre of Izamal, a lovely little town settled in the early 1540’s by the Spanish. During the time of the Spanish conquest of Yucatan (1527-1547), Izamal was one of the largest and most beautiful cities on the peninsula. The city was considered by the Mayans to be the home of Kinich Kakmo, a manifestation of the sun god, and of the god Itzam Na. Following the capture of Izamal by the Spanish, the local population was ordered to dismantle the top of the enormous pyramid in the center of the city. Upon the flattened pyramid, at the place where previously had stood the sanctuary of the god Itzam Na, the inhabitants were then directed to erect the new monastery and the church.
For decades many of the building including the market, colonial buildings and the monastery have been painted a lovely golden egg-yolk colour. The cobble stone streets, the iron lamp posts, and the clippity-clop of horse-drawn carriages give the town a tranquil old-time ambiance. The site is undergoing a massive restoration with state, federal, and UNESCO money.
|Our car, a horse-drawn carriage behind Kinich temple|
Wow! Was it cool! The Restaurante Kinich (named after the Mayan Sun God Kinich Kak Mo) is about a block off the city square, with a pretty entrance, and a large cool palapa-covered interior. Delicious smells wafted out of the kitchen. Inside the restaurant was a smaller hut with three traditionally dressed Mayan ladies sitting on large rocks, hand-making tortillas over a very hot wood burning fire. The food was fabulous. It has become our favourite place to have lunch on our road trips to Izamal.
|Ladies making tortillas inside Restaurante Kinich|
We have returned to Izamal several times with friends, and every time it is just as enjoyable as the first time. Road trips! Love 'em.
|Restaurante Kinich - our favourite place!|