In the morning we head back to the food stalls for a quick breakfast salbute and hit the road, driving first along the long grey ugly strip of hotels that make up the zona hotelera. We stop briefly at a shopping mall called Liverpool (slogan: es parte de ma vida, which well I guess it sort of is…) and buy indifferent coffee at Starbucks. It is time to get out.
We drive the cuota — toll road — to Valladolid. It is a long straight highway lined with low vegetation that reminds me a little of Cuba. There are almost no other cars on the road, and there is nothing to see except the occasional signs telling us there’s a service station in 84km — quite some walk if you happen to run out of petrol. This makes for an easy but slightly dull drive. We will later discover that there is a parallel non toll road that the locals prefer. A rather more interesting route, it passes through a number of pueblos along the way. But the price for driving the free road is the need to slow to a crawl in each village, punctuated as they are every few hundred metres by topes, Mexico’s lengendary speedbumps.
Our home in Valladolid for the next two days is a quite exclusive perfumery in an average size Mexican town. It is, quite simply, beautiful. This is a hotel of one room — above the shop — and when Susanna, the manager, leaves for the evening we are left in charge of both shop and hotel. There is a step ladder for accessing our giant raised bed, chiffon curtains that billow like something from a Chanel ad, a huge roof terrace overlooking the town, private plunge pool and a giant vintage bath. I could get used to this.
Downstairs in the shop it feels as if you have stepped back in time. Everything is displayed on vintage cabinets under giant glass bell jars.
We split our time between chilling on the roof terrace watching the birds ride the currents above us, exploring the perfectly preserved colonial town on foot, eating salbutes at the market (only 8 pesos!) and taking advantage of Susanna’s restaurant recommendations. It’s tough.