Adventure to Coba
Trip Start Jan 01, 2009
10Trip End Jan 08, 2009
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And we found ourselves stopped instantly, with maybe a touch of whiplash, safe on the other side of the lagoon. No, there really are no crocodiles.
We watched spider monkeys climb through the trees above us as we descended to the waterfront, climbed into canoes, and paddles our way across the same lagoon we had just flown over. On the other side, we gazed up the trunk of a 600-year-old tree, with a diameter of at least 8 feet, and branches that seemed to span half the jungle. We met up with a Mayan shaman who asked the gods for our protection in a small ceremony, around a table which represented the earth, with 13 gods above and 9 gods below. It is not heaven and hell, it is more like a Yin / Yang concept; the good and the bad. We breathed in an incense made of burning amber, and drank a sweet concoction of purified water, honey and herbs.
All good and protected, we moved on to our next location by way of some serious off-roading in our mini-van tour bus. It was a little rough on the bum.
Our next stop on this adventure; repelling into an 8m deep cenote, a cave located underground, full of fresh water. The Yucatan peninsula used to be one big coral reef, so there are no rivers in its landscape, but it does have one of the largest underground river systems in the world. And we are dropping down, backwards, into a part of it. Shall I say that I was just a little apprehensive about falling backwards 8m, into a pool of water below. The first drop, into a sitting position just beyond the rim of the opening, is the worst part of it. At no point did I feel unsafe, though. The guys in charge of the safety ropes and guide lines did a fantastic job, making me feel like I was in charge of my own descent and pace, but keeping a firm hold on me at all times. We didn't even have to splash down into the pool below - there was a guy waiting in the water, waiting to disconnect our ropes and prop us up in a inner tube!
The water was cool and clear, and there were little fish swimming all around. We could see straight to the bottom, another 8m down. Mario climbed up the side of the cave, and dove in a few times, prompting the 3 boys to attempt the same thing! Leave it to him to entice small children to give their mother a heart attack every time. Up and out of the cenote, and we discovered a welcome side effect - the water is filled with mineral that make you feel incredibly relaxed and refreshed afterward.
We returned to the location of our jungle trek for lunch, at long tables where to women of the nearby village were cooking up traditional Mayan dishes. We helped ourselves to rice and beans, chicken in a tomato sauce, empanadas with salsa and guacamole, and lots of fresh corn tortillas to scoop everything up with. It was all so delicious, and by then we were so hungry, that we all had second helpings.
After stuffing ourselves, we traveled into the town of Coba, and ancient Mayan capital, that spread over 70 sq. km, between 200 BC and 1400 AD. Of the entire complex of ruins, only 1% has been excavated! Our guide explained that the Yucatan peninsula is absolutely flat, and in this area, we are surrounded by small hills. Our guide says that every hill, no matter how big or small, is an unexcavated building, or part of one, most likely too badly damaged at this point to excavate. Impressive.
After learning about the Mayan people, and their way of life 600+ years ago, we are set free on the ruins, to explore as we wish. Mario and I rented bikes, with 1 speed, and no brakes, to travel between sections of the site more quickly, and ultimately have more time to at the sites themselves. You can also walk the entire site, which is a little too long for the amount of time we had, or take what they call a Mayan limousine: a 3-wheel bike pedaled by one of the guides, with a bench in the back to ride. Much more comfy and fast, but also pricier.
At the end of the path, we come face to with our goal; the tallest climbable Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula. And the view from the top was breathtaking, in more ways than one! Of course, Mario the show-off had to run up to the top. Good for him. Coming back down was a little more tricky, but still manageable in comparison to some other climbs we've done. We took our bikes back to the entrance of the site, enjoying the breeze that our ride provided.
After, the adventure was winding down, as we rode back along the main highway to our resort. Finding the Akumal Beach Resort proved to be our last little challenge, as the entrance is poorly marked coming from the opposite direction, and we very nearly turned in to 3 other resorts before finding the right one! It was a very fun day, full of lots of excitement , fresh air and sun, so no surprise that we adjourned to our room quite early, but plenty happy.
Where I stayed