Monday, March 28, 2016


Another day, another pyramid.  We visited the ruins at Coba, about half way between Chichen Itza and Tulum. It is a huge site, very extensive. We hiked around Coba on a "sacbe," ("white way") one of the ancient raised roads that connected Mayan cities in the Yucatan.  Archaeologists have identified one sacbe that is more than 60 kilometers long. They are paved with pale limestone, thus the name "white way. Something about a beautifully wide path lined with odd structures and winding through the deep forest reminded me very much of the Oregon Country Fair. Arly noticed it too. Down the millennia, we humans have always found reasons and places to gather.  Man is a gregarious animal.

The ball court at Coba was definitely more like a basketball court than like the football field at Chichen Itza.

Sequoia and Arly, master and mistress of Mayan ruins

 A Mayan arch.

The Watchtower, the second tallest structure.

Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid at Coba.


Mama climbing up.

The view from the top.

The view looking down

No handrails again, but there was an old ship's rope laid on the steps. I did an awkward side-step descent down the sketchiest sections, leaning over to hold the rope with one hand, my big ass pointed straight up in the air. I was wearing a neon green rain coat and you probably could see me from Cancun.

We hiked the two kilometers in to the pyramid, but by the time we finished the climb I was wet, muddy, sore as hell and trembling all over from our crazy adventures. Instead of hiking back out, we hailed one of the many pedicabs that cruise around the sacbes of Coba.  Pity the poor young man who had to haul us. 

From Coba we drove to Tulum. Finally the beach.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ek Balam

Ek Balam was well off the beaten track, a nice change of pace after Chichen Itza.  There were no restrictions about climbing on the ruins.  Arly, Paul and Sequoia scampered all over like goats, but after walking Chichen Itza and swimming in a cenote earlier that day, I was pretty beat.  I let them do most of the scampering.

I rallied for the climb up the largest pyramid. How many times in this life does one get to climb a Mayan pyramid? Not many.   These are views from the bottom looking up.

There was a temple about half way up. We took a break to catch our breath and check out the amazing carvings.


The view from the top

The view looking down; notice the lack of any kind of hand rail or safety equipment.  The stairs are almost vertical, the rise of each step varies and the treads are narrow and crumbling  It was scary as hell. There was a palm palapa roof along one side that provided a place to grab for part of the climb, but most of it was completely hands free.   

Yes friends, it's true: I dragged my ass up a Mayan pyramid and lived to tell the tale.  Next up: Coba and the giant Nohoch Mul. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Swimming Cenotes

Otherworldly pools, some in dark caves with bats flying above, big, slow motion fish in another, some with the long, hanging vines trickling streams of water down on my head.  Each unique, each like nothing I've ever seen.

The first one we swam in was Ik Kil, near Chichen Itza. It has a life guard, locker rooms, a restaurant, courtyard, the works.  Apparently, this cenote used to be underground but the roof collapsed some years ago and killed a couple of swimmers.

X'keken Cenotes, outside of Valladolid on the road to Coba.  There were two different pools here. The first was super dark, spooky and full of fish. Yes, I swam with the fish. A large colony of bats flew in the dark recesses above my head. There was also a gardener up there, working in the skylight-like opening in the roof with no safety harness. Ah, Mexico..

The other pool at X'Keken had very few fish, better light and was a perfect crystal clear blue. There must be minerals in the water because it dissolved some of the dead skin on my feet. They were quite soft when I was done swimming.

Finally, Gran Cenote near Tulum.  It reminded me of a lazy river at a water park. It meandered through passages. At one point, I swam through a completely dark tunnel to get from one large pool to the next.  Perfectly blue, perfectly clear with white sand along the bottom, it was home to turtles, bats, but no big fish (at least none I saw.)