And now our trip enters its darkest hour. Approximately 11am the day after New Year's.
At 10am I decided to go running and Phil sagely suggested that I run past the bus station to see when the bus left. Which was a miraculous suggestion because I learned that there would only be one bus that day going to Valladolid and it left at 11:30. I raced back, kicked him out of bed, we threw our stuff together and power walked the eight loooong blocks to the station.
We got there at 11:00, which seemed like plenty of time. We proceeded to stand there without moving for about 15 minutes as the one ticketseller stood there translating Part I of Homer's Iliad into Spanish. I began to truly, truly panic.
Then they opened a second line and I heard the guy say something about buses leaving at 11:30. Oh! How brilliant of them, I thought. We moved into the second line. We moved glacially until at 11:25 we were first - and last - in line. We stepped up to the girl and asked for tickets to Valladolid.
Oh, this line is only for buses to Cancun, she says. Go to the end of the other line. The other line was now double what it had been when we were first on it.
Crying on the inside, I left Phil in line and asked a porter if the bus to Valladolid was there yet. He said not yet. Whew.
So 15 minutes later we're being helped. Two for Valladolid, I say, to which she replies, oh, that bus doesn't leave from this station.
Nowhere had that been written on any sign. I was practically breathing fire at this point. And where pray tell was the other station? About a block from our hotel. So we dragged 70 pounds of luggage over and caught at 12:30 bus. We had assigned seats, but they weren't together.
Phil asks me to come sit next to him. - Wait until the bus starts, and then I will. - Just come sit next to me. - Just wait until the bus starts; I don't want to have to move twice. Besides, that's not your seat . . . no, that isn't either . . . no, not that one, THAT one - LIZ! THERE ARE SEVEN MEXICAN CHILDREN SITTING IN MY SEAT! First Fight Ever, End scene.
The rest of the bus ride was spent in hilarity as we mocked all the lametards we had met in Playa, and before we knew it we were in Valladolid.
That night we met up with my old friend, Roberto, who I met 5 years ago when I was last in Valladolid. He had been the lead singer of a bar band, and my sister and I got to talking with them, which led to copious free drinks and nachos, which further led to Roberto pulling us onstage to sing Zombie with the band. The next night we went with Roberto to his friend's ranch where we drank tequila all night and talked about Mexican/American socioeconomics and learned to curse in Mayan. He's a real sweetheart, and I knew he'd show us a great time.
The first night he brought us to the bar where I first met him, and the second night we went out for hot chocolate at this cute little cafe which we never would have found otherwise. Also, on his suggestion, Phil and I had dinner at a great little Italian place that had a picture of Pavarotti and the Dalai Lama eating pasta together in it. These are serious finds in a town that is a little sleepy and run-down, with loads of tourists using it as a stopping ground on their way to Chichen Itza but not staying long enough to put any real money into it.
Roberto was great to talk to, and drove us around to see the sights. I got to practice my Spanish, which was awesome, and Roberto spoke enough English for Phil to keep up, so it totally worked out. At one point, when we were the only customers at the cafe, the owner switched the music to country and I asked the guys if he had done it because of us. Phil and I tried to explain our feelings about country music to Roberto, who we learned can't tell the difference between our accents and southern accents. I also don't know how to translate "twangy guitars." I ended up saying, this music reminds us of people who voted for George Bush, comprendes?
On our second day there, we went to Chichen Itza which was great. We got there at 8m and left around 12:30 just as the tourists started to flood in. We took a lot of great pictures, although sadly the one of the decapitated guy with snakes springing out of his neck didn't come out. You'll just have to go there yourself.
We spent a lot of time translating the Mayan writing we saw:
P: How do they know this was the marketplace?
L: I think it's all those pillars that say, "Low low prices! Everything must go!"
L: I wish I knew how to read what's on that lintel.
P: If this temple be . . . a rockin' . . . woe be it unto he who cometh . . . a knockin'.
Anyway, it was a great place to explore. I especially loved the giant platform of skulls, where they used to keep actual severed heads on spikes:
Lastly, here is a picture of the kitten we befriended. There are many many feral dogs and cats wandering around Mexico, but this one was the befriendliest. Phil named him Huxtable.