|A straightforward little trip into
Colonial Mexico in January, avoiding the beach resorts of the
Mayan Riviera on the east side of the Yucatan peninsula. We took a
nonstop red-eye Westjet flight from Vancouver to Cancun, went
immediately to the bus station and caught the next bus to
Valladolid (about 3 hours), where we stayed overnight. We used a
half day to take an Oriente-line bus out to Chichen Itza, the huge
Mayan ruin, which is impressive but rather spoiled by the
megacrowds and all the vendors who set up within the
archaeological site itself (Chichen Itza is within daytrip range
of the seaside resorts and thus gets the hordes).
We then went by bus another 3+ hours to Mérida, just celebrating its 400th birthday, and checked in for a week at an airbnb casa near La Ermita de Santa Isabel, about a 15-minute walk south of the Plaza Grande in central Mérida. We hung around Mérida for part of the time and took day trips to Uxmal, Celestun, and Izamal; the one regret was not getting to Campeche, which sounded historic and attractive but would have meant leaving our Mérida house for a couple of days. Our casa's location on Calle 64A was very convenient to the bus depot at Calle 69 and Calle 70 (the odd-number streets run east-west, the even-numbered ones north-south); it was easy to stop by and look for bus departures to the various nearby towns and sites. ADO is the premium line in that part of Mexico, with Oriente in second place and a horde of smaller, cheaper companies also available. A taxi haled on the street to Centro was about 30 pesos – $1.50 or so US. We could not figure out the system of local buses and collectivos so were stuck with feet and cabs.
We did rent a Fiat from Easy Way Rent a Car, on Calle 60 a few blocks north of Plaza Grande, to go to Celestun. They were efficient and honest to deal with; it cost about $40 Canadian for the day, which was reasonable, but the in-and-out currency exchange on the credit-card deposit added another $23 to the cost! Not the car rental company's fault, just the bank's.
Otherwise, it's pretty much a cash economy in the milieu where we were travelling. One thing to note: if you have to get back to Cancun airport, bear in mind that you lose an hour when you cross the border into Quintana Roo – for some bizarre reason they put a time-zone line midway across the peninsula at the state border.
There's really no "landscape" to draw – the peninsula is flat and featureless, with no rivers or lakes and an even covering of scrappy forest with few visible farms or clearings. It's hardly jungle or tropical at all and is one of the few places where looking out the bus window actually becomes boring. However, the towns and people are excellent subject matter.
The drawings below are in my constant-companion Moleskine sketchbook, 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches, in BIC mechanical HB pencil with some added tones using Staedler coloured pencils (which didn't work out very well for anything at all, IMHO).