Riviera Maya – Mayan Encounter

I feel uneducated but I didn’t know Mayans still existed.  Of course, they no longer live in huge stone pyramids.

This was one of the best tours.  We started out early with a trip to Coba–beating the crowds and the heat.  In comparison to Chichen Itza and Tulum it’s not impressive in scale.  However, the vibe of it was interesting.  It’s more seated in the jungle, less pristine and less of the ruins are roped off…you walk along and there are bits and pieces of civilization everywhere.  Even the road you walk.  They put down white stone so they could travel at night–it reflected moonlight–when it was cooler.

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An animal some guys were feeding...

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There was an option to ride bikes or the “Mayan Taxi” (like a pedicab) but we just walked.  We didn’t get as inundated with history as we did with the Chichen Itza tour but I’m more for seeing it and the major details anyway.

The most amazing thing is that you can actually ascend the pyramid, Nohoch Muul.  There’s a rope to help you because the stairs are very, very narrow and steep.  At the top, all you can see is an expanse of jungle and the tip of some more ruins.  There’s also a room you can go in and since it’s in the shade, if feels nice and cool.

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Hat, purple shirt, sitting down...

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We then drove down a dirt road to the Mayan village which the tour company has contributed to by giving people jobs as photographers and cooks for the tourists, installing electricity, a water purification system and bathrooms.  This is the only place I would have bought souvenirs.  What they offered was more unique than the carbon copy stuff everywhere else.

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They had a pet spider monkey!

We stopped on the side of the road where there was a little bridge marked Cocodrillo Lookout.  And sure enough, there was a croc =O

We hiked a bit through the jungle next to a lake and our tour guide told us we would canoe in there with the crocodiles.  We thought he was joking.  We were wrong.  But before that, we got to a deeper part of the village where a Shaman performed a purification ritual.  I wish we had gotten more explanation of what he was doing, the items he used, their significance but then again, I didn’t ask.

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Next is cenote Jaguar.  Again, it was a chilly day.  As you can see, we didn’t want to sit around in swim wear let alone jump down into cave water….

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Our tour guide kept telling us that it wasn’t that bad and no one believed him!  One lady didn’t want to go, and one real young girl wanted to go but the tour guide kept trying to tell her it was dangerous for a kid, she insisted and she did fine.

I did some rock climbing at a gym and abseiled down into the Dragons Black Water cave in NZ so that was good preparation for this.  It’s a much deeper hole!  Descending was quite cool.  There are bats flying around you and at the bottom there is another tour guide who is holding a tube for you to land in.

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We got to swim around and it really wasn’t that cold.  The amazing thing was how clear the water was.  From the top, it looked like something down there was glowing green.  Once you were in the cenote, you could see that it was just light shooting down from the hole and reaching the bottom of the cave.  We saw fish too.

There was an option to climb a really slick rope ladder or to do the Mayan Elevator where they pull you up.  I thought about the rope ladder but the Mayan Elevator looked more fun (and less strenuous /lazy).

We continued through the jungle to get to a zip line that crossed a body of water.  Again, the tour guide told us about crocodiles, eep!  We also had a break that consisted of a hooked piece of wood.  ….  yeah, that didn’t  make me feel secure.  I was worried it would catch on fire or something heh.  The angle you hold it at helps keep you from spinning.  It was real cool to fly over the lake like that but the break didn’t slow me down much and I bounced back at the end.  This time it was fun, but in New Zealand we went on smaller zips that you just hold on to rather than being hooked into….so holding on for dear life as you bounce around…eek ;p

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For comparison, this isn’t my video but this is the zip at Waiau Waterworks in NZ…

Next you could take a break on the hammocks or head out on the lake with the crocodiles.  I went on the lake but canoes are not the most stable things in the world and I was ready to go back fairly soon.

Finally we had time for home-made Mayan-style lunch!  This was the best food I had in Mexico, no big surprise there.  A lot of the other stuff I had really wasn’t that different than getting good Mexican in America (certainly different than Taco Bell of course, though honestly if I want fast food they are my buddy).  We had cold hibiscus tea, some kind of crunchy/fried? tortilla with cheesy stuff in it but not a quesodilla and some more regular tortillas with chicken.

The variety they packed in really made the day worth it.  I’d love to visit cenote Jaguar again.

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