Izamal ~ The Yellow City

Izamal is the Yucatan’s “magical” town. The Mexican government considers a town to be magical if it is rich in historical tradition, it must be located near tourist sites, accessible by good roads, and above all there must be a sincere attempt by the locals to develop the entire town into a magical place. Izamal is such a place and the locals are certainly doing their best to make sure it continues to be magical. Izamal may be one of the

The drive to Izamal, which is located just east of Merida, is about a one hour and fifteen minute drive from the port town of Progreso. The highway is great to drive on, going from a 4 lane highway, to the pereferico, then turning to Izamal for the last portion which was a very well marked 2 way highway. As you drive into the town of Izamal you are certainly aware of the effort made by the locals to paint the fronts of all their homes the same colors.

We drove into the town seeing all the yellow painted houses with white trim and cobblestone roads leading to the main courtyard by the convent. The Franciscan convent, which is built over one of the Mayan pyramids and is famous for the monk Fray Diego de Landa. Pope John Paul visited the convent in 1993 and is commemorated by a statue of the Pope in the convent courtyard. There is a museum in the convent (5 pesos /adult) where you can see all the paraphernalia which was used during the Pope’s visit.

We arrived and easily parked by the main courtyard and strolled over to the horse-drawn carriage (calesa) and were offered a tour by carriage for 3o minutes for 100 pesos or 1 hour for 200 pesos. All five us fit in the carriage and Andre, our tour guide, was more than willing to have one of the boys on the front with him as we cruised around town on the cobblestone roads. Along the tour we were allowed to disembark and walk around all the Mayan archaeological sites. We also saw some very old mayan homes along the way.

Evan & Noah certainly loved exploring the ruins, the first one we went to was fairly little but they still explored. By the time we got to the last one, Kinich Kakmo, Evan raced to the top, if you look in some of the pictures, he is the little white dot at the top in his Canada t-shirt!

After the horse-drawn carriage ride, we walked 2 blocks to the Hotel Kinich which has a fabulous restaurant Restaurante Kinich, a sabor de Izamal. Like always, we were almost the only ones in the restaurant as we were there right at opening time but this gave us time to explore the restaurant and enjoy ourselves. Evan, of course had the sopa de lima, Noah had the Panuchos, Lyn had a vegetable soup, Bev had a roast chicken, and I had the Pork Kinich with black bean soup.

After dinner we strolled back through the park and up to the convent where we think may have been a traditional wedding dance in the courtyard of the convent. This was complete with a procession of musicians, dancers, onlookers, and of course a procession is not a procession without somebody right beside you lighting fireworks!

We had come to the city at 4pm as we wanted to enjoy both the horse drawn carriage and the city in daylight, then have a relaxing dinner while we waited for the ‘light show spectacular’ which we had heard so much about. As a tourist you have to pay 89 pesos per adult and 5 pesos per child to have a chair and watch the ‘light show specatular’… I cannot say that I will go to watch the show again, but I am glad that we had the opportunity to see it at least once. The show lasts 30 minutes and is a combination of lights changing color…. ohhh ahhhh…. and a slide show projected onto the side of the convent. This slide show is very interesting and shows pictures of ancient Mayan ruins from all over Mexico and is in Spanish.

All in all, we are glad to have experienced the city of Izmal and Evan cannot wait to return to show other people the city of yellow. I think he just wants to return because we wouldn’t let him buy a hammock chair for ‘little blue’, his smallest stuffy, but he says he wants to show people the city of yellow. Noah will return for the horse-drawn carriage ride and the ruins, but he slept through the last half of the ‘light show spectacular’ so he may not want to experience that again…ever.

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5 Responses to “Izamal ~ The Yellow City”

  1. Mom, Grammy says:

    I can’t wait to visit here, this adventure looks pretty neat,won’t be long. Great pics. love you.

  2. Grandma and Grandpa says:

    This reminds Nick and I of our trips to the Buchart Gardens in Victoria. We always go in the daylight, have supper and then stay until dark to see the entertainment and the gardens as they are all lit up. It looks like a great adventure to take Grandma and Grandpa on in January. So, Noah may just get to see the light show again!

  3. Robin says:

    Evan, of course had the sopa de lima–a lime drink or lima been soup?
    Noah had the Panuchos –what’s this?

    Evan and Noah, you are soooo brave!! When I look down to where your mom stands I am dizzy. There were sure a lot of walls and ruins to climb. No wonder you fell asleep Noah after all that work!

    Kurt and Lyn you are brave parents to let your boys have all that fun! No running shoes either. I want to show this to Alex.

  4. Robin says:

    The yellow city convent looks like another one you visited, but the picture wasn’t at night or lit up.
    I love the yellow. So warm.

    how much does it cost to fly there??

    I have been thinking of all of you a lot lately. what will C’mas be like for us w/o your family and w/o mom?
    Mom was supposed to have come and she sure is wanting to.

    I trust your health is good?

    How are the elderly treated in your area?

    Love to all of you from Great Grandma and Robin

    • Kurt says:

      Flights to here certainly range from $170 up to $800 depending on the date you fly. There are some fabulous deals available and we suggest to most people they fly to Cancun and then take the bus to Merida to get to us. The bus ride is almost 4 hours but is very comfortable and saves you a ton of money. Flights directly to Merida are twice as much as flying to Cancun.

      We are looking forward to Christmas, Lyn’s Mom, her niece and her niece’s boyfriend will all be here for a couple of weeks over the holidays and we are very excited to have them here. Then shortly after they leave, my parents arrive for thee weeks also. Christmas looks like it will be a great season here and all the decorations are already up all over the town.

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