Scrolling through HostelWorld, camping at Xkopek Park on a native Honey Bee Farm in Valladolid, Mexico quickly caught my eye. I booked two nights and was set to leave on the 1pm bus from Playa Del Carmen. Arriving at the station one hour early, I raced around asking every bus driver whether he was headed in my direction to Valladolid. Each driver gave me a “no,” and the security guard kept saying, “ten minutes, five minutes, three minutes…” Before I knew it, my bus time had come and gone. I ran to the ticket-office who told me my bus had left without me and that I needed to purchase another. Luckily, they gave me a student-discount to pay for my second ticket and I drank a “de-stressor beer” on the sidewalk waiting for the next bus.
Heavenly Camping Hostel
Walking 30 minutes strapped to my big purple backpack down the dusty streets of colonial town, Valladolid, I arrived at the bee sanctuary at sunset. On the family-run farm, one of the brothers grabbed big green tent and I helped him set it up under a Palapa (I pride myself on being a master of popping up tents). The property was absolutely amazing, covered in eclectic mud-cabins with thatched roofs, bamboo-post huts typical to traditional Mayan home-making, colorful murals painted on buildings, tree-houses, a communal kitchen, a duck and chicken yard, a gorgeous pool built to look like a natural lagoon and the sea at the same time, tent-campgrounds circling the base of a cute private cathedral on the property, RV camping, a bee sanctuary, property tours, locally made honey, a restaurant, and even a small museum. Oh… AND the whole property is perched over a dry-cenote and caves that they use to collect well-water. Somehow, this whole oasis is located near the center of town. Have I found heaven?
Bee Sanctuary and Honey Tours
Strangely, I had no idea different bees existed outside of the normal black-and-yellow fuzzy honeybees. There are over 4,000 types of bees and 25,000 recorded species. A free honeybee tour was included with camping. Four types of native stingless bees to Quintana Roo developed hives on their property. One built hives in tree-stumps, others hanging from cave-walls, others digging 5-meters deep to nest in underground-tunnels, and the last is a type lives a lonesome hermit-style life creating little domes all by themselves. When a “queen” dies, female larvae are fed “Royal Jelly.” Whoever becomes the biggest, strongest, and smartest the fastest, takes over queenship (Dalai Lama vibes?). The honeycombs were like nothing I’ve ever seen—more like neural-passage networks. It’s virtually impossible to extract honey except with tiny syringes, making this type of honey extremely expensive. We taste-tested different varieties along with spicy propolis, pollen, and nature-made cough medicine.
Ek Balam Pyramids and Cenote
I met a giant German guy on the property that just completed a Bufo Alvarius retreat in Tulum. The Bufo Alvarius Medicine comes from the venom of a poison toad and has been used through history as an ancient indigenous remedy. From the 30-minute ceremony, the guy got the messages that “ALL is love” and that he’ll live for 225 years (lol). We went to Ek Balam, a less-touristic archaeological zone, climbed the immense set of stairs, meditated at the top, made fun of less-nimble people making the ascent and learned 12-sequences of Qigong controlled breathing and movement exercises. From here, we rode free bikes with entry to a nearby cenote. The German guy got naked, jumped in and got yelled at by the guards while I floated in the center looking up at the sky under the pouring rain. The cenotes in Mexico are extremely special places—hailed by ancient civilizations as the path we take to the underworld upon death. I could have easily stayed swimming for hours.
Museum of Ethnic Clothing of Mexico
The city-center of Valladolid is bustling with street-vendors and fixed stores full of embroidered items and macrame dreamcatchers. Around the main-square, people sell coconut ice-cream, grilled corn elotes, and my personal favorite—Marquesitas (basically a fresh-pressed waffle-cone filled with your choice of ingredients). Renting brakeless bikes, we drove around the pastel-painted colonial city and stopped in for an interesting, yet spooky look through Choco-Story, a wax-museum based around the history, significance and culture of Cacao. The Museum of Ethnic Clothing of Mexico was a great fashion-exhibit that’s just opened its doors, all by donation. In Valladolid, many women still wear cute white dresses with cross-stitched floral bands around the hem, sleeves, and neck.
Kukulkan Nights Light Show at Chichén Itzá
Exploring Chichén Itzá (one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient Worlds) during their night-time spectacular, Kulkan Nights, was such a unique experience. We strolled the lit-up pyramid complex for an hour, in awe of how the lights cast made the ancient carvings stand out even more than they would during the day. They called us to take our seats for a 50-person max-capacity light show where they projected the story of creation, construction, consciousness, the calendar, life, death rituals, Gods, demons, culture, and ways of life of the Ancient Mayan civilization onto the main temple. It was obvious that Aliens were among us—they definitely had part in building this incredibly ornate and symmetric 1,500-year-old temple with little technology and tools.
Salsa Dancing and Mexican Beers
I moved into a central hostel for my last night in town and a big crew of us headed to Salsa Dancing Bars, Mezcalería Don Trejo and Los Frappes. Some people from the hostel immediately got barefooted and I looked at their soft pink feet against the concrete floor under wobbly tables and their glass Sol and Superior bottles and thought: “This will not end well.” Sure enough, after jumping up from his table and hanging like a monkey from the club’s rafters, one of the guys stepped on a shard of glass, his foot squirting blood all over the floor. His party was over—bandaged up and taken home. Us shoe’d citizens stayed out dancing, stepping on each other’s toes and trying to learn salsa. I’ve always felt like a leader, not a follower, so synchronized dancing is a hard skill for me to learn! Moral of the story—step on toes, not glass.