Our next stop after the lovely Valladolid is Izamal, or the “yellow city.” Every building is painted a vibrant yellow. Soon after we arrived I dubbed it the “big” city — because everything here is big: the church, the square, the ruins.
We were surprised and pleased to find a parade starting through town the minute we walked into town. It was some kind of festival parade. A group of people — a family we’re guessing — carries a large cross through the streets along with either a brass band or a giant sound system strapped to the top of a Volkswagen. They have flowers and are led by a couple guys who are lighting four foot bottle rockets with cigarettes (which is the only smoking I’ve seen in Mexico).
The parade then marches up a raised causeway (called a sacbeob in Mayan) and into the Franciscan monastery San Antonio de Padua. In the 1500s, the Spanish conquerors decided it would be too difficult to raze the Mayan ruins and so built the monastery right on top — incorporating many of the existing features. The atrium that is most of the top of the ruin is second in size only to the Vatican. This gives an idea how massive these original structures are.
Izamal was the most important Mayan city — the largest and the center of civilization in the Yucatan. This is very apparent here.
The parade it turns out was not so much a lucky coincidence for us. An hour after one family’s parade entered the atrium the next would start their parade. This continued as long as we were in town and even the next morning!
No one seemed to be dressed really fancy. We all chuckled a little at one middle-aged man leading a parade whose shirt said in big letters on the back “I’m shy.”