We took a trip to Cancun in February of 2017 and while there we visited the Coba Ruins in Mexico. We booked through our hotel and decided on these particular ruins because they are still being excavated, it is less touristy and you can climb the pyramid!
The Coba Ruins are an ancient Mayan city and are located in the Yukatan Peninsula area of Mexico.
The Mayans civilization lived here since 600 AD. Our guide told us that the Mayans were peaceful people. Sometime after 900 AD the Toltecs (an early Aztec civilization) invaded. The area became abandoned around the 14th or 15th century. The Toltecs were not as peaceful as the Mayans. Mayans never used human sacrifice whereas the Toltecs did.
The Coba Ruins are known for their extensive stone causeways which were raised roads called Sacbe. They connect to other ancient areas with one Sacbe being about 62 miles (100km) long. Used for trade, commerce and pilgrimages.
Coba is also known for its many Mayan hieroglyphic writings which contain information about Mayan life, customs, and rituals. Written on upright stones called stelae and they are located along the causeways.
The Ball Park
There are two ball parks in Coba. Here, the sides of the ball park are slanted, whereas in Chichen Itza they are straight. I don’t know the significance of that but I thought it was interesting. Our guide told us that the winner was sacrificed instead of the loser, just like at Chichen Itza, it was considered a great honor.
We followed as our guide pointed out more areas on our way to the pyramid, and once at the pyramid, he turned us loose to explore on our own. I loved the way the jungle grew around and even in the ruins. We did not see all of the Coba ruins as later in the day we were heading to the Tulum Ruins.
The most dramatic ruin you will find in Coba is the 137ft (42m) tall pyramid. This pyramid is called the Nohoch Mul which means, great mound. It is the second tallest pyramid in the Mayan world. Even though Coba did not have many tourists at this time, there seemed to be plenty at this pyramid.
Climbing Up the Pyramid
There are 120 steps to the top of the pyramid. I was excited to start. A rope hangs down the center from the top for people to grab on to if needed. The steps are steep and have loose rock on them. The higher I climbed, the steeper the steps seemed.
As I got closer to the top I was climbing on all fours. My short legs were really stretching to get to the next step. About 10 steps from the top I stopped to take a picture of Steve. I noticed more loose rock on the steps and looked back to see the view. At that point, I instantly froze. I love adventure and heights usually don’t bother me, but I had a sudden fear of slipping and falling. Don’t know what got into me, but I was done. I hollered up to Steve and said I was turning around and told him to take pictures when he got to the top.
To the Top or Back Down?
So I had the dilemma of backing down or sitting on my bottom and bopping down. I took a couple steps down, and I didn’t like that. It was actually worse stepping down than stepping up. I decided this was crazy and I was going to the top. Slowly, I inched over to the rope and grabbed on with one hand and went up a couple steps. I still had that insane fear that I was going to fall. I looked up and saw Steve at the top smiling but I couldn’t do it.
Climbing Back Down
So there I was. More than anything, I wanted to go to the top, but I had an innane fear I never had before telling me to get the heck off that pyramid. I pondered it, took a couple steps down, then another step up. That was it. Feeling defeated, I bopped down.
View From the Top
Steve took some pictures from the top. He said the view of the jungle was beautiful and he also said there was a temple on top. Steve came down a short time after I did, of course he walked on down, no bottom bouncing for him, which of course added insult to injury to my now fragile ego.
So all in all, I was glad we toured the Coba Ruins in Mexico, but disappointed I did make it to the top. I truly believe when you have that unusual gut feeling you need to go with it so I am glad I went back down. Maybe with age comes some fear, I’m not sure. I have had riskier adventures since without an issue but for me, this was my no go.
We visited Tulum in the afternoon and I will write about that in next weeks post.
Where We Stayed
While in Cancun this trip we stayed at the all inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Peninsula. We had a nice time here. There were 5 restaurants on the premises, all of them good. The beach had both rocky and sandy areas which was nice.