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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Coba and Tulum - Mexico 2016

Today Tim mentioned that it had been a month since we had left for our Mexico trip.  It has been so cold and foggy and miserable here, that sometimes it is hard to even remember the feeling of warm sun and blue skies.  Thank goodness for pictures to help preserve the memories.

Two years ago when they were in Mexico, Tim and Erika went to Coba and loved it, so we decided that it was a must see on this trip.  Coba is an ancient Mayan site that is set between two lagoons. 
The ruins were first "discovered" in 1926, but it wasn't until the early 1980's that they were available to tourists.  Even now, only a small portion of the ruins has been cleared from the jungle, the rest is still covered and inaccessible.  The tour that we had booked provided a guide to help with our exploration.  He was very.......interesting.  The kids struggled to understand him - I could understand him better in Spanish - and he appeared to have an agenda.  The guide was obviously Mayan and his explanations for the ruins and what they told us about the Mayan people were very different than what I would call the traditional history.  Essentially he claimed that the Spanish had completely misinterpreted the sites and had incorrectly described the people as violent and uncivilized.  The guide had very specific explanations for the buildings and the symbolism and wanted to make sure we all understood the value of the Mayan civilization.  I assume that the truth of it all is probably somewhere in the middle of what he told us and the "traditional" history as we know it.  He definitely gave me something to think about.  Unfortunately, though, because he was so focused on correcting the history, we didn't get a lot of information about the actual structures and ended up mostly wandering on our own to look at everything.  We may not have understood everything that we were seeing, but we were still super impressed at everything that remained in the jungle.  

After riding through the jungle on bikes, we made it to the main attraction, The Nohoch Mul Pyramid.  It is 137 feet tall and one of the only pyramids where you are still allowed to climb to the top.  Erika and Brycen were excited to climb and I decided to join them.  I was a little nervous about falling because it is so steep and the stairs are so uneven, but I didn't want to miss out on such a cool opportunity.  We made it up the 130 stairs and the view definitely made the climb worthwhile.  We spent a lot of time wondering about how they were able to make the pyramid and the actual purposes, details that will likely always be a mystery.  

As we were getting ready to leave, we spent a little time by one of the lagoons that surround Coba. There was plenty of wildlife to keep us company, including a very large (maybe hungry?) crocodile. 

Even though Coba is quite inland, there were plenty of fresh water sources, including several cenotes - underwater caves filled with fresh water.  We had the chance to swim in one and I was amazed at how large it was.  We entered through a manhole size hole, but once inside, it was huge, and the water was cool and clean.  We didn't swim for very long, but it was another cool thing to have seen and done. 

After leaving Coba, we stayed in the same rural area and went to a restaurant for lunch.  It was buffet and open air and obviously catered to tour groups.  The food was surprisingly good, although it was all called into question when Erika cut into a piece of pineapple and it was filled with some type of little worms.  At that point we decided we were done and washed everything down with some Coke in hopes of killing off anything else that may have been lurking in the food. 

The last part of our day was spent at Tulum - hands down my favorite site to visit in Mexico.  This is another ancient Mayan site, likely the port for Coba.  Apparently it was one of the last cities built and occupied by the Mayans.  I always imagine that it was the area where all the Mayans wished they could live.  The scenery is absolutely beautiful and the beach is one of the best I have seen. After seeing the steep, jagged cliffs, it makes total sense to build a city there, it would have been very difficult for anyone to try to attack.  And did I mention the cliffs are beautiful? I have toured Tulum several times and am still in awe every time I visit.

Tim and the kids spent some time down at the beach swimming.  I was late going down and they had closed the entrance, so I had plenty of time for selfies while I was waiting.  Actually, I was quite content to have more time to wander around and enjoy the beauty.  I don't know what part of the day the kids liked best, but for me, it is always Tulum. 

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