What can start off as one of the worst days on your trip can end up being the most magical. This is the beauty of Travel.
Our disastrous start to the day was in Tulum, a town in the Eastern state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. We had planned to go to Chichenitza, one of the 7 wonders of the world to see the Pyramids, but also had to be back by 8pm for a bus to our next destination Palenque. No buses were going, we had limited options and tensions in the group were high. We decided in the end to hire a car and only 5 minutes after were issued with a traffic violation fine for driving down a one way street. Begrudgingly we settled on a place called COBA which was only an hour away and also offered amazing pyramids (according to Lonely Planet Mexico.)
We were surprised and delighted to discover upon arrival that this ancient site of pyramids was one of the earliest and longest running communities in Mexico. A true gem and beautiful location for the day, our spirits quickly rose. Sites with pyramids and other ancient structures have a mystifying appeal. I experienced this more so when I met a Mayan gentleman standing on one of the pyramids. He spoke to me in a very low and soft voice explaining what life would have been like there 1000’s of years ago. I was interested in the art of sacrifice and the rituals that were practiced in the culture. He informed me “If I were the king in that time I would not sacrifice you because your hair is like the sun and your eyes like the ocean, you would be kept and treasured.” I liked the sound of this ancient world and appreciated my new friend’s narrative which briefly transported me back to such interesting times. Our group hired bikes and leisurely rode around the ancient structures, trying to imagine the life that was once lived here. We then came upon the greatest of them all and struggled our way to the top for an amazing view over the entire bushy area. The landscape and environment in this area reminded me a lot of the Australian bush and I really enjoyed the sense of home in such a foreign and intriguing place. After strolling around the pyramids and climbing as many as we could in the heat of the Mexican Spring, we went to the cenotes which are typically found in this region of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Cenote comes from Yucatec Maya dzonot or ts’onot, meaning “well”) is a sinkhole with exposed rocky edges containing groundwater (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cenote). We had seen a few in Tulum but did not know that there were so many others throughout the region with three sites alone in this area.
Cenotes are like heaven under the earth. You walk down a spiral wooden staircase only to be met by the most incredible pools of clear water reflecting the stunning colours of the surrounding walls. The image meets your eye and your breath is taken from you. Serene, peaceful and overwhlemingly beautiful. Any anger or upset that had been present earlier in the day was now erased and forgotten. We floated around and dove from a 10 m board into the stunning deep pools nestled in the cave. We only had half an hour and were devastated when we were hustled out of our dreamlike world. We emerged as the sun was at it’s most beautiful right before it is ready to set. At this time of day, as the suns rays gently touch down on the earth, all just seems to be well and good in the world. As we drove out of COBA in that magical time of day that is twilight, we realised we would miss the stunning sunset whilst driving s we quickly turned the car around and went back to the pyramids site. Stopping at a small store we grabbed tostadas and guacamole ingredients to make ourselves an evening snack whilst we watched nature’s great show. Sitting on a wharf, a crocodile floating in the water near by, a still smooth lake lay out before us and beautiful colours streamed across the sky as the sun slowly set. We could not have asked for a more perfect end to the day or a more remarkable reminder of how beautiful this earth truly is.
We finally left COBA in the early evening once the sky had settled and a deep blue graced the sky. We remembered now how lucky we were to have the opportunity to experience such wonders of nature and to visit such truly amazing places. We ended the day on a high with a sense of complete satisfaction.
(Note: This was posted on December 2, 2o12 after I returned from Tulum for my second trip. I visited Coba, Mexico in May 2009.)