Today was an adventure day. I woke up early, ate breakfast at the resort and began walking to the ADO public bus station in Playa del Carmen to catch my 9 am bus to Coba. I arrived at the bus station and waiting for them to call the bus going to Coba. We boarded the first class bus and were on our way. The seats were comfortable, there was a bathroom at the back of the bus and there were TVs which played animated movies in Spanish. I had done research about taking public transportation to Coba prior to coming to Mexico and it seemed easy enough… And was also way cheaper than taking an organized tour which would cost upwards of 100 dollars.
We rode the bus to Tulum and then stopped at their bus station to pick up and drop off some people. We were then on our way to Coba. We passed a number of small Mayan villages on the way. It was eye opening and shocking to see how these people live on a daily basis. They had shops selling hammocks, honey, food and handicrafts along with authentic restaurants along the highway. The houses that they lived in were simply shacks. You could see babies and children sitting on the front steps of their house and there were stray dogs roaming around everywhere. It was even more shocking when you looked down some of the gravel side streets that branched off from the main highway. The people looked like they were always working hard either building things, cooking or selling their handicrafts. It made me wonder if they ever have time to relax and what they do for fun. It appeared that there was no electricity in these villages as there were no hydro lines connected to the buildings or houses. It was hard for me to imagine how these people lived their day to day lives. They had no electricity and none of the modern luxuries that I am blessed with in Canada. It really made me feel grateful for what I have and the opportunities that I have. I will definitely think back to these villages when I find myself complaining about something trivial in life.
We arrived at the town of Coba at 11 am. The bus dropped us off at a corner near the lagoon right beside a restaurant. We had to walk down the road along the lagoon to reach the entrance of the Coba ruins. As we were walking, we saw two crocodiles in the lagoon! One of them was sunning himself on the sock and the other was peeking out of the water. It was super cool! In the parking lot of the ruins were little shops selling colourful blankets and handicrafts along with authentic Mayan restaurants and food stands. We bought our entrance tickets for 64 pesos and then rented pedal bikes for 40 pesos to tour the ruins. There was the option of hiring a guide for the ruins but we opted to do our own thing. We started biking on the paths through the jungle. On the way to the Nohuch Mul, the most famous group of ruins and also the highest in the Yucatan region, there were remnants of smaller ruins beside the path. We stopped at these smaller ruins and they were all so different and unique. Some of them had large flat rocks standing up with engravings on them. The ruins were all shapes and sizes and some of them were completely engulfed by the jungle with trees growing on the rocks of the ruins. It was so peaceful and relaxing riding bikes through the jungle.
We finally arrived at the Nohuch Mul. It is the tallest Mayan ruin in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is one of the few ruins that you can still climb. My mom and I began the climb. It was very steep but there was a rope anchored to the rocks to help you along. I didn’t need it on the way up. I climbed up without looking down and made it to the top fairly quickly. The view was mind blowing! The ruin was 14 stories tall and 42 meters. You could see the treetops of jungle for miles. It was so amazing. We took some photos at the top and admired the views for a little while and then started on the trek down, which proved to be much more difficult than going up. I definitely held on to the rope going down as the steps were very steep. Half of the ruin was still engulfed by the jungle. I have read previously that much of the ruins in Coba are still undiscovered as the jungle has taken over after so many years.
Upon arriving at the bottom again, we started biking back to the beginning of the ruins, stopping at some more little ruins along the way.
After returning our bikes at the entrance, we went to a small authentic Mayan restaurant called El Faizan in the parking lot of the ruins. I had fresh guacamole with corn chips and spicy salsa. It was delicious! We then started walking back to the bus stop down the road along the lagoon. After visiting the ruins, we ordered a coconut water with fresh pineapple juice from a small street stall in the parking lot and it was served in an actual fresh coconut! So cool and so delicious! You could taste the freshness.
We still had to wait a little while for our 3 pm bus so we sat on the sidewalk along the lagoon and people watched. There were a lot of school children who walked by us, probably on their way home, wearing the same uniform of tall white stockings and black skirts and shirts for the girls and black pants and shirt and dress shoes for the boys. They were speaking some Mayan language and were laughing and teasing each other. It was interesting to watch them while trying to imagine what kind of lives they lived. They had no technology, electricity or modern luxuries that we have yet they were still smiling, joking and having fun. It just made me realize how reliant we are on technology and how happiness doesn’t come from all of those luxuries; it comes from spending time with friends and loved ones and relationships in general. These children probably have no idea how children live in other countries and therefore, they have nobody to compare their life and possessions with. It was refreshing to see their happiness, even with what little they have in terms of possessions and opportunities.
The bus came to the bus stop on time and then continued on to the entrance of the ruins where more people were waiting. There was a sign for the bus line ADO there as well so you could wait at either stop.
We boarded the bus and continued on our way back to Playa del Carmen where we took a taxi back to our resort. All that climbing definitely takes a toll on your legs!
This was my favourite day so far from the trip. Before leaving this morning, I had some worries about taking the public transportation and going to Coba off the beaten path. But it turned out that my feats of the unknown did not materialize, as is usually the case with things we worry about in life. I learned that everything works out in the end and not to expect or visualize the worst case scenario. I also gained a lot of confidence through going to Coba on my own. It made me realize that it is possible and that I could definitely do this again and feel confident and comfortable doing so. I love experiencing new things, spending time doing cultural activities in nature and just living in the moment without technology to distract you. It really renews your sense of awe and wonder about the beauty of our world and it makes you want to see more of that beauty. It was an eye opening and fascinating day. Next time I feel myself getting negative about a situation, I will think back to the villages near Coba and to how these people lived before I let a complaint out of my mouth. It really puts life into perspective. What we saw today, was real Mexican life. It is in stark contrast to what most people picture when they think of Mexico and it’s resorts and beautiful beaches. There is extreme poverty in this country and we didn’t even see the worst of it. It is just unimaginable how people can live in that way and hard to imagine how the living conditions are probably much worse, the further inland you travel. Yet you still see them smiling and laughing and working hard I provide for their families, through selling handicrafts, driving taxis or working at restaurants. There is a lesson to be learned from these people… Don’t take your life for granted. It could be so much worse.
Tomorrow I plan to go bike riding in Playacar in the morning and relaxing by the pool and beach.