21st century modernism, ancient pyramids, magical sinkholes, and firefly lullabies. That was the enchanting mix that awaited us in Yucatan....
Casa Sisal, an award winning piece of modern architecture built upon the old henequen drying field of Hacienda Sac Chich, was our home for three days. Upon arrival, a little accident with the corner of the car door led to me to be holding ice on a huge lump on my forehead. Luckily, the contemporary house that we then stepped into was so appealing that I was immediately distracted from any pain and walked around, hand holding melting ice to my injury, dazzled... or should that be dazed. Whichever, Casa Sisal certainly had a 'Pow!' with its 'Wow!'.
The kids were quick off the mark to jump into the elegantly slender pool, since they were already in their swim suits. We had spent the morning splashing into a few cenotes in nearby Homun. Just a sample of the 'Ring of Cenotes', a multitude of sinkholes, in the Yucatan region, filled with crystalline waters, awaiting the adventurous to submerge themselves into some of the most amazing natural swimming pools on earth. The pool at Casa Sisal has its own beauty, as it sits at the top of two acres of lush lawn, a paradise for a family more accustomed to the dry semi-desert region of central Mexico.
The two-bedroom guest-house is stunning. A long house, made with white cement and finished using an ancient Mayan technique using resin from a tree, Chukum, giving it a beautiful polished feel. Its on-suite bedrooms lay on each side of the central kitchen/dinning/sunken-lounge area. The house fabulously opens up to the surrounding gardens as the floor to ceiling sliding doors hide away into the walls, providing a huge shaded outdoor space. A fantastic sound system allowed our 6-year-old twins to rock out to 'The Clash' whilst Mama dished out the banana bread that was thoughtfully left out on the counter by our hosts, along with a map and some information about the area.
As dusk approached our gaze was held over the great lawn, as thousands of fireflies glowed bright and danced magically for us to admire. Breathtakingly beautiful.
After a day full of swimming, hunger pangs could no longer be ignored and we headed out to Acanceh town, to what would become our favourite panucho and sabute street-food stall. Sitting between the town's cathedral and a Mayan pyramid whilst offering a view of the town square too, a place at one of the few tables of the small eatery had to be the best spot in town. With elderly ladies kneading the dough and cooking over hot oil, the fresh Yucatecan favourites filled this family of five for 126 Mexican pesos! (That's less than five pounds!!)
Fed and happy, we returned to retire to our simply stylish bedrooms, where we had the choice of dreaming away in an inviting bed or a silkily soft hammock. Some of us chose the hammock!
The light muslin curtains ensured that we woke to the beautiful early morning light. Lie-ins are almost unheard of in our family, and one member would not have allowed it on this occasion as he was eager to get in a splash and a swim before breakfast.
We chose to follow one of the suggested outings, and headed to the Mayan ruins of Mayapan, a lesser visited complex with wonderfully captivating structures. We continued on to Pixyah, where a local lad lead us to one of the most impressive cenotes we have seen to date. A huge hole in the domed cave lit up the enormous cave to reveal the intensely vibrant blue of the subterranean waters. With just a handful of other swimmers, it was a dream.
Back at Casa Sisal, having stocked up on a few basics, I cooked up a late lunch. Having been 'on the road' for over a week, it was nice to have a 'home-cooked' meal, and the stylishly equipped kitchen made the task a pleasant one.
For a pre-sunset jaunt back into Acanceh, we decided to ascend the closest Mayan pyramid, surprisingly there was a second one behind that and the kids were invited to climb up by the señor who opened up the gates for our visit. Smiling, he led my husband and I to a position where he pointed out the cathedral popping up behind the pyramid. "Here we have a view of three eras," he stated. "The Maya, the Spanish and the modern." Here he laughed as he pointed to the children being the "modern". An old joke, I'm sure, but a fun one.
We climbed the first pyramid that overlooked the town centre. At the top, we studied the stucco designs of the Maya and the familiar chukum finish. The señor's comment funnily applied to Casa Sisal too, with influences from the Maya, the Spanish, and the modern. A thoroughly Mexican mix.
For more information on Casa Sisal, please visit haciendasacchich.com