Sometimes you need to let go, slow down, and let someone else make the decisions along the way. This is exactly what I did for this trip. We ended up traveling the roads beyond Izamal…like, way beyond. If you’re anything like me, you’ll settle into your seat listening absent-mindedly to the lively conversation of your fellow travelers. The rest of your attention will be lost in the green landscape sprinkled with red and orange, there are Flamboyanes all along the highway.
Cenotillo: Cenote and Polcanes
Our first stop was Cenotillo, a small town less than two hours from Mérida. Here, cenotes are everywhere, in fact, this municipality is known as “La Ciudad de los Cenotes” (The City of Cenotes). You can just imagine how many there are in the surrounding area.
After a stop at Super Willy’s, to purchase provisions for the road, we met our guides from Alianza Ambiental Tsoonot Kaaj and began our 4 km bike tour to cenote Xooch. Not a fan of bikes? No worries. You can also access the cenote by car, as I did.
The cenote’s rest stop is rustic, away from city noise (even most cell phones have no signal). It has restrooms and dressing rooms, but I recommend bringing a flashlight or using your cell phone to help you find your way around while indoors. There are also life vests in various sizes, so go ahead and equip yourself with one. Cenote Xooch has no currents, but swimming from one end to the other – which is approximately 60 meters in diameter – will have your heart racing.
Normally, I would say you’d be breathless…but just seeing the cenote will take your breath away. Once you descend its 15-meter staircase to the rock base, a whole new world opens up around you. The water is always a clear, vibrant blue. Roots hang over the mouth of this semi-closed cenote and birds fly overhead. If you go between May and August, you’ll be enchanted by the number of Toh birds (motmots) living there. You’ll find one everywhere you turn!
Swim in the refreshing waters of the cenote for 30, 40, 60 minutes. We stayed longer than intended and ended up falling behind schedule, but we eventually hurried towards Alianza Ambiental’s restaurant and cabins. There, we were served flavorful, fresh, crunchy Polcanes, an assortment of sauces, and sweet lemonade. A delicious finishing touch to our first stop.
They say Espita is quiet. The reality? It’s so much more than that, you can feel the peace as you explore the streets flanked by colonial buildings. This relaxed atmosphere is even more evident inside the boutique hotel Casona los Cedros, the refuge where we concluded our adventure.
This project infuses life into a colonial house that had been abandoned for decades. It’s now an oasis for people looking to stop and enjoy some pampering while surrounded by vibrant vegetation. Casona los Cedros is well-known for bringing together local elements to create its unique atmosphere. The walls have a Chukum finish (a technique passed down from the Maya that utilizes a local tree’s resin) and its cedar furniture comes from carpentries in Espita.
It’s all too tempting to lock yourself in a room and sleep the afternoon away, but head back to the hotel’s common area. Specifically, go to the restaurant. You’ll thank yourself after tasting the dishes. Although they’re definitely gourmet, the essence of each dish remains focused on Yucatecan comfort food and fresh ingredients from the hotel’s garden and surrounding villages.
Finally, it was time to try the dishes. They looked exotic and colorful. Usually, I prefer to not know what the exact ingredients are. In this case, it was the opposite. Not so I could attempt replicating them at home – that’s beyond my (non-existent) culinary skills – I just wanted to understand how the delicious and peculiar flavors were created. So unique!
We had a fresh salad made with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, and local burrata from Sucilá; a beet salad with sour orange and lime emulsion, cucumber flowers, and fresh greens straight from the garden; as well as wood-grilled Tostadas, one of the restaurant’s signature elements; with charred guacamole and Macha sauce. Pair your food with one of their cocktails, yum!
Unfortunately, we had to share the dishes. I would have loved to have the Tostadas and guac, and the burrata salad, and…well, everything all to myself.
From the restaurant, you’ll have a view facing the terrace or the infinity pool. In either case, nature will be prominently featured in the background. Sit back and relax for a while, chat with your travel companions, and if you’re not in a hurry to get back to home base, explore Espita a little longer.
Alianza Ambiental Tsoonot Kaaj
Cel. 9911 03 83 53
FB: Alianza ambiental Tsonoot Kaaj Cenotillo
Casona los Cedros
Calle 26 #199 23 x 25, Centro, Espita
WhatsApp: 9992 49 21 91
IG: Casona los Cedros
Editorial by Olivia Camarena
Yucatecan communicologist. Your favorite Assistant Editor. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Photography by Olivia Camarena for its use in Yucatán Today.
Esta entrada también está disponible en: ES