Izamal aka the Yellow City

Why is this city yellow? It depends on whom you ask. One theory says it was always yellow, while another and in my opinion more believable theory states that it was painted Vatican yellow in honor of Pope John Paul's visit here.

That's right, the Pope came here and if the Pope can get all the way over here from his comfy palace in the Vatican, so can you. 

Izamal is about an hour and a bit outside of Merida, towards Cancun on highway 180. There isn't a lot to do on the way, unless you count the town of Kimbilá, which is known for its textiles although a recent visit left me feeling a little Shania about the whole place: So you have hipiles? That don't impress me much.

In Izamal itself, you should visit the monastery, which has as its front yard the second largest atrium (after the Vatican) in the WORLD. That's right. And the whole structure is on the base of a Mayan pyramid that once stood here and whose stones were used for the construction of this and other buildings around town.  

There is still the Kinich Kakmo pyramid just across the way, a few blocks walk actually and very near the Kinich restaurant which serves up splendid Yucatecan fare and is a must-visit when in town.  

Other interesting places in Izamal are the combination embroidery shop/herbal medicine place (you will have to ask) as well as plenty of handicrafts and artisans goods at several galleries and boutiques. One thing to keep in mind is that if you should visit the shirtless man in charge of the herbal remedies for everything from cancer to impotence to AIDS and want to engage him in a conversation, make some time available as he will go on for hours.