Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tulum Day 2: ruins part II and the rest of Tulum vacay

Yeah, this vacation post is 6 months late, but I've got vacation this week and we're not going anywhere, so now I have time to post.

Tulum Day 2 was all about Mayan Ruins.  I learned a lot from reading the signs, and I took pictures of the signs so I can remember the stuff I learned. But at the present moment, I don't remember much, so I'm just gonna post some cool ruins pics.

Cobá

We started out "vacation early" in our rental car for Cobá, which is about an hours drive on a very nice highway through the middle of crazy thick jungle from Tulum.

Can't do a day-long road trip without Day of the Dead bread. Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead in Spanish) is made only for the November 2 celebration known as the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Hey, if we had to miss our own Halloween festivites in Utah, we might as well celebrate with the locals and eat their yummy bread.


Pan de Muertos at a Tulum bakery. Unfortunately, all the small sizes were sold out, so we had to settle for some other tasty pastries.
Then off through the jungle to Cobá. Cobá (pronounced cō-bǝ) is an ancient Mayan with a large network of stone causeways built around 600 to 900 AD. You can read more about this place on the Wikipedia entry.




Our guide, Roberto, tells Drew that the "winner" of the game played on these walls would die.  Drew, don't play!

Bicycle taxis were the best way to get around, although we chose to walk to get some exercise.  I think we probably walked 3 or 4 miles.

Impressive ruin.

Another impressive ruin.

And this impressive ruin is a big reason why people come to Coba.  They actually still let you climb up this irreplaceable artifact of history!

So of course I did!

There were no guard rails on the top. One wrong step and aperson would face certain serious injury.  That's one of the reasons I love to travel to foreign counties - you can still do cool stuff as long as your are not stupid.


Coba was steeper than it looks.
 Cobá was pretty cool and we got some exercise.  Now we were primed for the big one.

Lunch

I just have to interject a bit about the lunch we had.  We stopped at a roadside eatery outside of Cobá and had the most delicious torte things and Mexi-coke.  Truly delicious. Probably my favorite meal of the trip.


Chitzen Itza


What trip to the Yucatan would be complete without a tour of Chictzen Itza?  Because of our walking and lollygagging (picture taking) at Cobá, and the hour drive from Cobá to Chitzen Itza, we hit the latter at 4:45 pm. The site closed at 5:30.   It was $32 USD per person. We hesitated a moment, but forked over the dough to run in and see one of the seven wonders of the world.  I'm so glad we did.

The main temple, El Castillo ("the castle") was huge (98 feet high), beautiful, and awesome, and that's "awesome" in the true sense of the word. 

El Castillo
Serpent heads at the base of El Castillo

Impressive ruin

Merchants were hawking a mind-boggling array of trinkets along every path and along the edge of every courtyard inside the site. We found it quite distracting. There must have been 200 or more merchants. As the place was closing, we witnessed each merchant pack all their trinkets into carts and haul them all out the main entrance.  The economics of this system blew my mind.


There were hundreds of columns like these and larger that would have held up a roof structure. 
 About 50,000 Mayans are estimated to have lived in Chichen Itza.  The time frame is similar to that of Coba, but Chichen Itza is much more elaborate and varied in architecture. You can read more about the site on the Wikipedia entry.

stonework

The jungle is never far away from taking back civilization.
In fact, this is how El Castillo looked in 1892


Some stone carvings on a temple.

This was my favorite structure, the Osario pyramid and the Platform of Venus. These and other structures near them are aligned to the nearby sacred cenote. Temples, a female goddess, and water; what's not to love.

A huge temple

Intricate carvings
We stayed long after the official closing, and by walking quickly throughout the site, I think we got to see all the main areas, with a bonus that most visitors had gone home.  The authorities finally shooed us and the rest of the hangers-on out of their sacred temple so the Mayan gods could come back and rest for the night. 
Parting shot of El Castillo




The only thing bad about getting a leisurely start and hitting two major archaeological sites with 4 hours of driving in between in one day, is that "we" (Drew) had to drive at dusk on a lonely highway through the jungle.  At one point I saw a large snake coiled on the side of the road. I told Drew we were not walking to safety if the car broke down. 

We also got hungry and thirsty on our big day, so we picked up some dinner at the grocery store when we got back to Tulum.  Lucky lucky for me, the grocery store had Pan de Muertos.  A quiet dinner of heavy snacks, beer, and the yummy bread for dinner by our pool.


A girl can live on bread and beer.

Dinner.

Day 2 Mayan ruins conquered!

Day 3 and 4

As is my custom, I planned to do a separate post for Day 3 and any highlights from the trip home, but in looking through my pictures I found only these.
Most of day 3.
 I did convince Drew to go to the beach with me for a few hours, but we didn't take a camera. The pictures would have been of a pretty beach, and a topless woman.  She was pretty proud.

This Kiwi couple was staying at our 8-room hotel so we got to know them a little and kept running into them in town.  We shared some beers a couple of times.  Nice kids.

Drew loves peanut M&Ms so this character at the airport could not have been more to his likeness.

So that's our New Orleans and Tulum combined vacation.   Thinking about it now makes me want to book another trip somewhere warm.

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