Trip Start Sep 18, 2011
25Trip End Oct 31, 2011
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Up early for our 7am pick up. Lucky for us the van was on time. Unlucky for us we spent a lot of time doing hotel pickups before being dropped off at a shopping centre before transferring to a different van. We were a bit surprised to learn that we had the same guide, driver and rattly van from yesterday for today's tour to Coba.
We headed off and made several more stops along the coast at Playa Del Carmen to pick up other people staying at some very fancy / exclusive looking resorts - we were a bit jealous.
Onwards we tracked and eventually made it to Coba and to the archaeological site. The jungle around us was quite dense and we walked a short distance to see the first temple and a small ball court where the Mayans would practice before trekking to Chichen Itza for various religious ceremonies and offerings to the Gods some 55kms away. The captain of the winning team would be sacrificed to the gods after the game- it was a huge honour for the Mayans, but I'm not sure that our modern day footballers would bewilling to make such a choice. The ball courts were similarly aligned with the path of the sun like every other building or structure we have seen in the region. The sun and the seasons was such an important part of the Mayan culture. The setting sun was the most worshipped and many of the activities and ceremonies were focused around that time of day.
Out guide told us about the various wildlife that is still in the jungle around us including several varieties of snakes, spiders, two types of jaguars and other creepy crawlies. Speaking of which we saw a scorpion crossing the road ...there is a joke here somewhere, but we were too freaked out and swiftly kept walking and didn't wait around for the punch line.
Our journey into the jungle continued and we came across a road built by the Mayans that was a toll road for merchants traveling in the region. There was a look out station built for security on the road which was a tall structure that the warriors stationed themselves at to control the surrounding area.
Onward we continued until we came across the main pyramid called Nohoch Mul. It is absolutely amazing to see this huge structure rise from the ground upwards to the sky. it is around 42 meters high and has 120 steps at a very steep angle. Even more amazing is that fact that we were able to climb to the top!!!! The climb up, although steep was not overly difficult. The view at the top was jungle for all the eye could see. We really did feel some strange sensation looking out on this landscape that would have been viewed by the Mayans long ago.
Our descent was a lot more difficult than the climb. There was a rope to guide us as the steeps were very steep and narrow. Some of the steps were quite large as well. Our legs were shaking when we made it to the bottom and we worked up quite a sweat from the concentration it took to ensure we made it down safely.
Next we headed to lunch at a Mexican cantina for a modest buffet lunch. The cantina was next to a lake that has been formed from ground water that has come up through the limestone that makes up the ground area.
Following lunch we headed to a limestone cave that had a pool at the bottom. Some of the other people on the tour went for a swim in the pool, but the guide only gave us 20 minutes so we did not bother getting changed. The cave had many stalactites coming from the ceiling and stalagmites from the floor. It would have been a cool relief from the heat of the jungle for the Mayans.
After we visited the limestone cave we headed to an authentic Mexican village. When the van stopped we could see bores rolling around in a sty in front of some very rustic and roughly built huts. The tour guide ushered us off the van to walk through the village and see all of the animals and people. It was a very uncomfortable feeling walking through these people's yards like they were some kind of sideshow. The people are very poor and are living off the land and the few animals that they have domesticated including deer and other animals that we had never seen before. Fortunatly we didn't stay long and we were soon back on the road.
It was again a long ride in the van, particularly since we had to make all off the drop offs again. We were glad to be home after a long day, but very happy that we were able to experience the Coba ruins up close.