Mexico Day 4: Coba and Tulum

One annoying difference we experienced in Peru as well as Mexico was no flushing of toilet paper. I can understand the lack of sanitary services, but discarding used toilet paper into a basket is disgusting, and it floating around a dump like dispersed dandelion seeds or even incinerated (I am not sure how it is disposed of) is questionable.

Anyhow, today was planned to be a less intense day where we arrive at our final hotel by the end of the day. We woke up to the alarm but only after more poor sleeping and a rooster next door that cock-a-doodle-dooed starting around 4 a.m. We rolled out of bed closer to 6:30 a.m. to shower and finish packing the bags for check out. Breakfast was served starting at 7:30 a.m. with fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola, pound cake, and Mexican mini croissants.

Coba happens to be in Quintana Roo, so despite our efforts to get there early enough to avoid the high heat of late morning, we lost an hour to the time zone shift as we drove from Valladolid. Eager to get to the pyramid so we could climb to the top, we were surprised to find bicycles to rent as well as pedal taxis. I was tempted to take a bicycle taxi simply to have the experience but wasn’t interested in what was likely a decent fee. Also, the exercise is rather necessary with the Mexican diet.

Wow, what a walk! The ruins are spread out, the climbable temple being a kilometer walk through the jungle. We were warm by the time we arrived. Herr and JJ thought running up the partially restored steps would be fun, so I watched from the base as they dashed up and nearly crawled the last dozen stairs. Then I took my own time, the stairs very smooth in the middle near the rope (provided to aid climbers) and rougher towards the crumbling edges with sheer drops to the ground below.

Coba pyramid.

Once to the top of the 120 stair climb, the view was fantastic. Coba’s Nohoch Mul Pyramid sits well above the forest canopy cresting a road sightline. A great panoramic picture opportunity. We stayed long enough to cool down and catch our breaths. The walk down was scarier, the slippery stone feeling even more precarious with gravity working with us. Despite the danger, I am glad the experience is still available, unlike at Chichen Itza (we were told its temples were no longer available because of a tourist falling to their death).

Coba pyramid.

A single vendor sits near the base of the pyramid, and we took advantage of it. With cool drinks in hand, we wandered along the long paths to various parts of the ruins. Not many of them have seen thorough restoration, similar to what we saw at Uxmal and Chichen Itza, so while I would recommend going to Coba, it should only be as a supplement to the other two sites (and Uxmal being number one). On our way out, I picked up a passion fruit frozen fruit bar that was delicious. I could eat frozen fruit bars all day…

From there we drove another 30-45 minutes to the Gran Cenote. We quite enjoyed the previous two, so we were filled with anticipation. To our dismay, it too has become aggressively touristy, charging 180 pesos a person where we paid 60 (80 at full price) per cenote in Valladolid. And it was full of tourists. Granted many of those tourists weren’t American, but they were closer to what one expects of young people visiting Cancun and the coast. The cenote itself was nice. They required us to shower in advance, and lockers, life jackets, and snorkel gear were made available to rent. We opted to trust our fellow cenote goers and simply set our items in a pile off to the side.

The Gran Cenote consists of two water holes connected by an “underground river”, which seems a “grand” way of saying part of the cenote is a cave with openings on either end. We didn’t see many fish – too many people – but a family of turtles hung out in the larger of the two pools and bats slept on the cave ceiling. Despite the number of people, the cenote was still enjoyable. The Yucatan, and this area in particular, has many cenotes, so quieter options are available.

Instead of overdoing it, once sun dried, we drove the five minutes into Tulum to check into our final hotel, Hotel Posada 06 Tulum. JJ’s room was ready but our suite wasn’t (we were early), so we went for a late lunch on the main street. I had an urge for a burger, so the concierge suggested Don Cafeto. Herr had fish tacos, JJ something quite Mexican, and burger with fries for me. We caught the last few songs of a live duet, and three children serenaded the restaurant patrons, out of tune vocally and instrumentally. We still gave them a few coins for effort. I rather enjoyed the burger once I pulled off the bacon, and Herr liked his fish tacos more with the bacon.

Back at the hotel we moved into the suite. It’s unique in that the furniture, including couch and bed, are made out of smooth concrete, all attached as one cohesive slab with the floor. Not much rearranging possible. It reminded me of The Flinstones. We took a couple hours to relax before a jaunt along the main road again followed by some ice cream. We were done by that point so called it a night.

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