|A tour of the Mayan ruins of Coba and Tulum
by Rosemarie Mellenberger
(NOTE: Rosemarie and Randall Mellenberger travel to Cozumel every year for two weeks. Each year they explore different areas of the Yucatan. This year they ventured to Coba and Tulum and share their report below.)
We awoke to another perfect day in Cozumel. It was beautiful with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. We had signed up for a tour of the Mayan ruins on the mainland and were on our way to the ferry pier. A woman by the name of Olivia greeted us with a smile at 7:40 a.m. Olivia gave us our round trip ferry passes for Playa del Carmen along with vouchers which we needed to present to our tour guide. Olivia told us someone would be waiting for us at the end of the pier in Playa del Carmen.
We got in line to board the 8:00 a.m. ferry and it was right on time. The ferry ride is pleasant and comfortable (it takes about 30 minutes to cross). Approximately halfway to Playa we saw flying fish, one right after the other. This was incredible since we thought they usually just fly a few feet at a time. The half hour ride was quickly over and we headed to the end of the pier to meet a young man waiting for us along with a few other people who joined our group. He led us through the plaza and a residential area to meet up with our van where we presented our voucher to our guide.
Our guide, Rubin, and driver, Alberto, were with us for the entire duration of the tour. First stop in the morning was Coba, followed by Tulum in the afternoon. The drive on the main highway was fine until we turned off onto the state road leading to Coba. This was quite a bumpy ride but still fun. If you go, bring comfortable shoes because you will do a considerable amount of walking in Coba.
Coba means water stirred by the wind and is surrounded by five lakes. At its zenith, this city had almost 50,000 inhabitants. It is believed that there are approximately 6,500 structures here, but only 5% have been uncovered. When we arrived at Coba we first visited a smaller pyramid with a ball court right next to it. The final pyramid we visited is the highest pyramid in the Yucatan. Standing at 42 meters (or 138 feet), it is called Nohoch Mul. On our way to the pyramid, Rubin stopped to point out a road which served as a Mayan route between Coba and Chichen Itza. The road is 100 kilometers long and is still intact.
When we reached Nohoch Mul, my husband, Randy, decided to climb the pyramid with another couple we had met from England. Randy got some really good shots with the video camera at the top of the pyramid. We could easily have spent the entire day here. But soon it was time to make our way back to the van where Alberto was waiting to drive us to a Mayan restaurant we had passed along the way. We dined on lime soup followed by chicken pibel, rice and beans and a fruit plate for dessert; the entire meal was absolutely delicious.
By the time we had finished lunch, it was almost 2:30 p.m. and time to make our way to Tulum. Tulum was not that far from Coba so we still had plenty of time to see the sites in that location. How beautiful it is here once you pass through the gate. The grounds are surrounded by a stone wall and the premises are well groomed with palm trees everywhere and the brilliant blue ocean in the background. After viewing all of the structures, we made our way down to the beach.
Our perfect day had come to an end and we needed to head back to Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry to Cozumel. We arrived in Playa just in time to board the 6:00 p.m. ferry and the sun had already set. It was getting dark and a full moon provided an evening light show, changing from orange and finally white as it reflected off the water. It was quite spectacular and the day ended as wonderfully as it had begun.