Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Day 8: Coba

After wasting a lot of time and money by previously not taking tours, we decided to finally take a tour to Coba, another historically important Mayan site. 

We went with a tour group called Easy Tours which picked us up from the tour centre in the city of Tulum. The guided tour cost 650 pesos pp which included a trip to a Mayan community, swimming in a cenote, buffet lunch and entrance and tour of the Coba ruins. Pick up was 9am and we drove to a tiny village to see how some of the indigenous Mayans lived. We got to see how they make their (salt-less) tortillas which you sprinkle salt on roll up and eat (simple but tasty) and got introduced to their pet monkey and some local wild animals. It was a bit awkward as here we were, an English speaking tour group wearing modern clothes and carrying cameras walking into their home and taking photos. The people didn’t even speak Spanish, let alone English. We then got to visit a primary school. These children had barely anything but they were such a lively bunch; they were very amused by our cameras and seeing photos of themselves. We then got to my favourite part of the day, the cenote.

Cenotes are limestone caves underground that are filled with fresh, crystal clear water. It was so peaceful down there; 50m underground the artificial lights were reflecting off the water onto the cavern walls, not a single sound from the surface could be heard and the bottom of the 25m deep pool was completely visible. Floating on your back was tranquil, although the water was freezing, which made it difficult to breath regularly. Just before we headed back to the surface, we saw natural light streaming in from the only hole in the ceiling of the cave which was pretty cool. 

Natural light streaming through a tiny hole in the cave ceiling

The last part of the day was a guided tour through the beginning on the Coba ruins. We got a lot of background info which was interesting but then we were told that the main pyramid (which is one of the last ruins that allows the public to climb) was 1.5 miles into the park and that we only had 40 mins left until we had to get back to our bus. They gave us the option to walk (clearly not enough time), get a cycled taxi for 100 pesos or rent a bike for 35 pesos. Thankfully we had enough cash with us because they never said at any point that our all-inclusive tour would have additional fees. We powered through the park (missing a lot on the way) and then clambered up the pyramid (rather steep and potential very dangerous!). The view from the top was beautiful, a horizon of green trees, perfect for a “planking photo”. We got back with plenty time to spare because 4.30pm Mexican time is actually 5pm.  

Arriving in Tulum around 5:45 we had plenty of time to spare before catching our overnight ADO bus to Palenque in the southern Mexican state Chiapas, so we went for some mojitos and a small buffet at a chilled restaurant called Trattoria del Mar on the Tulum’s main road. The mojitos were made using freshly pressed sugar canes (which you got to nibble after your drink). Harry had a wee jam session with the musicians that were playing. Great way to end our day.

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