The next day it was the trip to the Caribbean ruins of the Mayans in a place called Tulum. My journey started in a Matador type van which had almost 14 people including me and the driver, out of which only 3 spoke English (the driver – very little, myself and one person from a family who were originally Mexicans but settled in U.S) and most of the time, the information that was given to the whole group was in Spanish. But I didn’t complain because I was able to understand it a bit and it was more of the journey to the place that was done in the van and no actual explanation about the place was given. They were discussion more political issues rather than the archeological ones. It was fine with me.
It was a very rainy day and I wasn’t sure how the trip would end up with all the rain and the wind. But thankfully when we landed, the rain had stopped except for a very slight drizzle. Then they regrouped based on the Spanish and English guides and I was assigned with the people of the other van (who were mainly Europeans and Americans, and I think I saw only Indo-American too.. if I am not wrong). The entrance to Tulum ruins was nothing to what I imagined. It was supposed to be near the Sea.. and I didn’t see Sea or water anywhere in the entrance. Then when we started going towards to entrance, the breeze told a different story. As and when we climbed those stairs, the view of the sea unfolded slowly and it was breath taking…. The color of the sea with all those Coral Reefs.. man!! Too good to be true..
The breeze was so much that it was literally pushing us away, but the places was beautiful. I wish we had fewer crowds actually J to have the place for ourselves (or actually myself). The guide was explaining about the Mayans in general, and how they used to deform their heads in order to look beautiful (they considered being cross eyed to be a beauty and hence made the child to be subjected to some pressure on the heads to make them cross eyed). This place in particular was protected by a huge wall surrounding the whole area of their livelihood. The main ruin area was supposedly inhabited by the chiefs and kings and the rest of the lesser souls lived outside in small groups in other places. This was the sort of trade place and a port which was used to travel elsewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. You can see the typical mayan architecture (no irons or any metals, just the stones or rather lime stones) with some temples, high places for Chieftains, and some Ceynotes (si-no-tes) , underground well also there. There were also huge temples and other places near the sea which served as the light house sort of thing during their times. It was also used to gauge the hour of the day with the light that passed through the window there. They had more common sense didn’t they ?
Most of the structures are severely damaged, but you can still see how they managed to have a proper construction to obstruct the sea water coming in and also enough weeds nearby to handle the high water levels. With the cool breeze and the green-blue sea , the ruins or at-least what remained of it looked majestic. It started to drizzle again and we spent around 2.5-3 hrs totally there. Well I had enough time to take as many pictures as I wanted and to just stand by the ocean looking into the clear sea and the white sand. For people of their stature (they were short in stature) they did really think very big in their times, didn’t they. To live in harmony and peace with nature…What can I say.. I miss them J
After our time there, we regrouped in the exit and started our way to the beach nearby (in Tulum ruins, there was only one place where you can get to the water…the rest is protected..because those places are used by Turtles.. so you are not allowed to go there..) and we were there in that beach with the slight drizzling for almost more than an hour.. it was such a calm beach with no soul there.. even the people who came with us went to their vans sooner because of the rain / drizzle. I spent more than with the sea.. oh! I love beaches.. I just love watching the water come to you and the sound of the waves… It’s so peaceful. If you could get into that water, it would still be nice to go further because you could do that here.. get closer to the reefs..
After some time, we left to the inlands where they took us to a Mayan family (they have been there in the inlands.. almost in a secluded area for ages) and showed their way of living..I felt a little uncomfortable here because it was like invading their privacy. Mayans believed that the more children you have the more important you become (!!!whatever that meant to them) but in general, they have like 6-7 children min.. and in this family they had almost 6 girls and 5 boys or something like that. They had animals like spider monkey, deers, some sort of cats , 2/3 variety of birds , 2-3 dogs all part of their family. It was for general information about their style of life. After that it was lunch time in Coba.
Tulum served as a port city for this city called Coba, another mayan city which is in the inlands not far away from Tulum. It was like this, the players who won in city like Coba (in the ball game) got to play in the Big Ball Court in Chichen Itza (and if they won, join the Gods) That is how Coba is related to Chichen Itza. We had our lunch in a small but nice restaurant in the entrance of the city. It was situated between two big lakes. The restaurant was on the entrance of the lake I guess. It was a good view. The ruins are well covered with the forest out there. During the lunch the American – Spanish family talked to me and wondered if I was from India. They got excited when I said, I was. The lady liked Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan from Bollywood (of all the things that people know about India, Bollywood and Gandhi are the two top things) and the person was talking about the similarities of the mayan and Indian culture and civilization, how he encouraged his son to do a project on the main religions of India, how he liked Buddhism and Jainism etc etc..He also offered to translate things for me, but thankfully I was also put in the English group for the tours. So it was ok.
The entrance in Coba was again covered with forest like trees so that you wouldn’t know what to expect from it. But when you get inside you see these huge pyramids which served as temples and the shorter version of the temples you see in Chichen Itza. But it is more damaged here and restoration is difficult because of the dense trees surrounding it. They also have this ball court and keynotes. Apart from that they have the stone slabs (like our Kalvettu) which tell you the story of the ruler(s) and what they did. Sadly most of them are in very bad shape. In fact, all these places were painted beautifully in red color (color of the sun and the blood..which they considered to be pure) and over the period of time, the paint has faded. They used some sort of natural dye to color the buildings. We went around the ruins.. saw the smaller court and the guide again explained how they used their hips (shakira style…trust me ..he demonstrated it to us J) to hit the ball. He also told that all people of the mayan line, have a mark at the end of their spinal line during the child birth (a round scar like thing) which fades over time. His daughter had one it seems. He was like.. that is our trade mark 😀
Then he asked us to take a tricycle or a bicycle to travel inlands (for almost 15-20 mins) to see a main pyramid, called the Nohoch Mul which is open to all to climb and suggested us to climb to get a view of the jungle from the top. I was super excited. I took the tricycle, because with the camera and handbag I cannot do the bicycle. It costs 100 MXN and it would take me there faster.. On the way you see the observatory building and other smaller temples. But nothing prepared me for what I saw in Nohoch Mul.. I really cursed !! what was I thinking.. How can I climb this pyramid… I really wanted to, but there was only one problem, there were no proper stairs !!! and there was nothing to hold on except a piece of rope they have kept there. It was so huge.. I tried to climb..but after 20 stairs or so.. really panicked and said a word of sorry to God and climbed back down
You see the pictures…
I know people were climbing..but most of them weren’t afraid of heights and almost none of them had a bigger camera.. and/or a handbag. I really felt very bad.. if only someone I know was there with me to just hold my things.. I could have tried a little more. You cannot even go around this pyramid, the other sides are all covered with trees. Trees actually have grown from inside this pyramid.
I stayed a little while and then came back to the main entrance, went around for a while and it was time for our journey back . Overall it was a nice journey.. somehow I felt that Coba didn’t impress me as much as Chichen Itza or Tulum did, but it is still a place to visit if you want to climb a pyramid 😀 , which I obviously missed.
It was almost 6 pm by the time we regrouped and started our way back to the hotel. I came back at around 7.30 pm and after that it started to rain like anything. My plans of going to the beach got ruined, but I went to get myself some coffee and French fries.
The next day my trip back to Guadalajara was scheduled for 12 pm flight and since it was still raining, I skipped my plans for the beach and went ahead for the ADO bus to Cancun airport and was in the airport by 10.30 am
Overall, I was pretty satisfied and happy with my trip to the Mayan places. It was planned in a day but it was planned well. I covered the important place.. the Chichen Itza. I would suggest it for anyone who visits Mexico (me-hi-co) to visit this place atleast once. And do not have any presumptions about the Mayans just as they show in the Apocalypto… There is more to these people than what you see in the movies.