It’s unbelievable to stand in front of a monument that is thousands of years old. Were the Mayans robots? I am baffled imagining these people with basic tools building such ginormous buildings in such a way that they have been able to withstand hundreds of years.
On my recent visit to Cancun I took a day trip with some friends to see one of the many Mayan ruins. There were about three excursions we could choose to see different sites. We chose Coba as it was the only one out of the three were you have the opportunity to climb to the top of one of the temples. The Chichen Itza ruins are one of the new seven wonders of the world, which is why you can’t climb any of the temples there.
It was an early morning with a long car ride. Our drive was crazy. Sitting in the back seat of the van was the worst choice. It was like being on a trampoline.
We had the option to do a zip lining excursion and then see the ruins or do a cultural experience. We chose the cultural experience which was very cool. We drove for about 2 hours to a current Mayan community. They live in these huts made out of sticks and for insulation in the winter they stuff dried corn leafs between the sticks.
We saw some of the locals living in their huts wearing traditional clothing. We were taken to an area near a small pond which had an alligator in it. There was a Sherman set up to perform a blessing/luck ritual on our group. He spoke in Mayan so unfortunately I have no idea what he was saying but it was very interesting to experience this part of their religion.
On their land they have a fresh water cave which you can actually swim in. So we did. Might as well do it all. You could either go down a set of stairs or jump into the water from the top. It looks like a dark hole from up there… So I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Once you are in the water its actually bright in there and they have tubes you can float around in. But you are not alone, there are bats in the dark corners and fishes and turtles. The bats where the only ones to make an appearance.
From this location we went to a different Mayan community. Our tour guide was a Mayan himself and was extremely knowledgable. This community was like the first. They had different gardens growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables. In their kitchen hut they made us some tortillas. The tips they get from tourists is used for the community to purchases goods. They hunt only for need, not for sport. Our tour guide mentioned that not all Mayans live in the traditional huts, others live in communities of concrete houses, some with electricity and others without.
After visiting the Mayan communities we had a mayan lunch. The food was good, the spices were different. As we were getting ready to get back in the van with the crazy driver, we learned that something went wrong. While we were doing our cultural excursion the driver backed up into a tree and broke the back window. Thank goodness we weren’t in the van when that happened.
It was now time for the main attraction. Another long drive brought us to the grounds of Coba. A parking lot surrounded by souvenir shops and in one corner what looked like a place to purchase tickets and enter into an amusement park.
A tour guide/archeologist met us at the entrance and told us a lot of history about this place. It was 15 minute (max) with so much information; The temples are built like nesting dolls, they take 20 years to build and every 52 years a new one is built on top of the other; You are born into each hierarchy, and the elite spent 2 hours a day shaping babies’ heads into an oval shape. So cool!
They also played this game for either religious, political or social reasons. It is almost like basketball except you cant use your hands. Two teams of two try to bounce the ball any way they can to get it through a hoop. If the game was played for religious reasons the captain of the winning team would be sacrificed. It was considered a privilege. I kind of understand why it would be an honour because you are now going to bring fertility to your community, but at the same time it’s extreme.
At Coba there are a ton of different buildings to marble over and even roads/trails that connect this ancient Mayan city to others. It is very elaborate. At Coba you have the chance to actually climb to the top of one of the temples. They rent you a bicycle from the entrance to ride to the temple and I suggest you do it. It is a lengthy walk to get from one end to the other. Originally only priest were able to climb these temples and they had to walk up sideways, never facing the temple straight on.
If you choose to climb up it’s everyone for themselves. Some of the blocks are eroding and there are a lot of people trying to go up and down. So be careful!! I started climbing on the side and all of a sudden there was no more temple. It’s shaped like a triangle so unless you climbing up the middle where there is a rope for support, you need to climb on an angle. I had to take a brake halfway up. This thing is massive. Out of the six of us only three made it to the top (including me). All you see from the top is forests and water. It is a cool point of view to see that the monuments you were standing in front of at the beginning of the tour that looked huge can’t be seen from up so high. Things only seem big depending on your perspective.
It was surreal to see this kind of history.