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A very special second trip to the Yucatan Days 9 & 10

12 Nov
To Coba and Punta Laguna we go today! The ruins at Coba are situated in the jungle about 30 miles west of Tulum. You pass through quite a few Mayan villages and many tourist shopping spots for beautiful hammocks, blankets, ceramics and the like.  We’d gotten a late start again and wanted to get to Coba as soon as possible, so onward we go. The road from Tulum to Coba is as straight as an arrow and they’re doing some improvments so it really is an easy drive.There’s actually a roundabout when you get to the turnoff to Coba. Funny, we are seeing more of these at home but it was the first I’d seen anywhere in Mexico I’d been. The ruins here are not as popluar as at Chichen Itza but are every bit as important archaeologically. Built in between two lakes there were over 50,000 Maya who lived in this great city between 400 AD and 1100 AD. The main pyramid Nohoch Mul is the tallest structure in the Yucatan. We didn’t get to see all of the ruins, but we plan on going back in the not too distant future……and next time we won’t be walking but renting the bikes instead.
If you wish you can hire a driver, a Mayan man – a human powered tricycle with cart that you can ride in.  Climbing to the top of the main pyramid was exhilirating if not just a little scary. This is definitely not recommened for anyone afraid of heights. Jill started up with us but headed back down. There is a rope that you can use to steady yourself and could save you if you needed it to. It was so hot and you are quite sweaty by the time you read the top, that we were pleased to go inside of the ruins and enjoy the strangeness and coolness of the air flowing through some holes in the walls. What an incredible view from on top of this pryamid! Looking out over a dense jungle and a large lagoon in the foreground made you feel as though you were on top of the world.
After we left the ruins we ate at a rustic, little restaurant called El Bocadito. The food was cheap and was just fair, but at least the beer was cold. (I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant unless someone knows that perhaps it’s improved since 07.) The best part of eating here was watching a Mayan man across the street mowing the lawn with a machete. His determination and talented use of the tool he used did the job.
We drove on past the intersection that turns back to Tulum towards the Punta Laguna Monkey Reserve. We arrived just in time to catch the last tour which was highly recommended. Our guide was a young Mayan man (when I recall his name, I’ll update this page) who taught himself English and spoke it quite well.  He said that a lot of people want to take the walk in the jungle alone and they are too noisy thus not able to see the howler monkeys. The guide was 25 USD for our group. Well worth it! We gingerly stepped and walked into the jungle and didn’t speak but in whispers and low voices. It wasn’t long before we came upon a family of howlers high up in the trees. It was quite amazing to see these creatures swinging in the treees above us. The best time to see them is in the early morning and also before dusk. Next time we’ll try the morning and spend more time. We wanted to see the lake before we left and what a perfect time to see it – at sunset.On the way heading home, the little Mayan children were still out and about, so I stopped to take a picture of them beautiful as they were.
I handed them all a few pesos and receive a lot of smiles. What a great day of exploration in the Yucatan!
Today we visited Xel-Ha, an ecological park for both kids and adults alike. We’ve never felt the desire to visit these places when traveling on our own, but with Sara as our travel companion we thought what better time to do this, plus we wanted to do something special with her. She was so excited because she was going to swim with the dolphins!  It was tempting for us to do the same, but maybe next time.  As soon as we entered the park we were impressed by the natural beauty of our surroundings and how well everything blended with the outstanding accomodations and ammenties. We put our things in lockers and lathered ourselves in sunscreen (biodegradable, of course!) and got Sara checked in for the dolphin adventure. We then went to a wonderful buffet breakfast – I usually “poo-poo” buffets, but this was wonderful! Now that our bellies were happy, we wandered on and found our way up the river, jumped on some inner tubes (which we later ditched) with our snorkel gear and meandered down the  river into the lagoon.
The combination of the waters meeting sometimes creates a murky feeling and is not always easy to see.  Still we saw lots of fish and Sara actually saw her first turtle swim right next to her!  Lucky girl!

We stepped out of the lagoon and stopped by one of the many bars for a drink.  Xe-Ha is all-inclusive so after you pay your admission your food and beverages, everything except the massage and the dolphin adventure are included in the 75 USD entry.  (Tip – book online for a 10% discount.)  We found a nice shady spot to watch Sara and her group in the natural pool of dolphins.  It was just as much fun watching her get “foot pushed” into the air and through the water as if we were in the pool ourselves.  I’m not sure where folks get the idea that these animals perform under pressure because even when they weren’t “on demand” it was clear by their frolicking nature that they were happy.  Some we saw waiting their turn excitedly and impatiently as they could hardly wait!  After the dolphin adventure we made our way to the wonderful dinner buffet and feasted on some great food and drinks!  Again there wasn’t enough time to enjoy every aspect of the park but we will return to Xel-Ha again and again!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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