Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coba for Dummies

 I try not to be too cynical in my travels around Mexico, but my 'tude came out on Monday with our trip to Coba. 

It all started with the taxi drivers in Akumal.  In our experience, it's hard to get a taxi from where we're staying.  And I know, if I could figure out the right combo of numbers on my T-Mobile phone and was willing to pay $4.00 or more for the call (and could speak Spanish), I could phone a taxi.  But we can't just walk out our door and pick one up on the road because we don't see empty taxis circulating the road through Half Moon Bay.  That's the one thing missing here -- a taxi to take us to dinner!  The prices also seem fairly steep -- 80 pesos from highway to the condo, which can't even be 2 miles.  It would be nice to have the taxi option, especially since I fell off a bike on Sunday and am hobbling around with a bruised hip and swollen knee.

But I digress.  Not having a taxi available, we decided to gut it out and walk from the condo to Akumal pueblo along the highway where we could catch a collectivo to Tulum.  After limping a few kilometers with my bruised body, there those rascals were sitting on a bench waiting to hassle us just outside the main Akumal gate!

Where you going?  Collectivos don't stop this time of day.  There aren't any buses from Tulum to Coba.  On and on and on.  Don't you want a taxi to Coba?  It's cheaper.  Only $70 U.S.!  Since we didn't bite on all that, the taxi driver then got in his cab and followed us down the street still trying to convince us out the window.  Literally, timeshare hawkers ain't got nuttin' on these Akumal taxi drivers!  LOL

There MUST be a bizarre reason why taxis here in Akumal don't make an effort to get fares within Akumal village with simple tasks like giving us a ride to dinner.  Maybe they're not allowed to park anywhere beyond the main gate?

To fast forward, we waited about five minutes for the collectivo to Tulum after crossing the pedestrian bridge over the highway to the pueblo.  The trip was quick and pleasant and cost us less than 50 pesos.  The collectivo driver dropped us at the ADO bus terminal in Tulum, and after a short wait, we were on the ADO bus to Coba.  92 pesos total for the one way.

The ADO bus dropped us all on the road by the lake and the tourists started to wander.  None of us had a clue where the ticket booth was located.  It was like watching the contestants on the Amazing Race wander around in search of the next clue box.  No entrance or boletos signs -- just a large parking lot.  LOL

Finally someone who spoke Spanish asked for directions.  92 pesos later, we were in the gate.  Craig and I laughed all the way through Coba because literally, there were no directional signs whatsoever and about two signs total telling us what we were looking at.  A metaphor for life.  So many paths, so few signs.

They're not stupid!  We're supposed to pay 250 pesos for a guide and 170 pesos for a rental bike!  


No brochure for the entrance admission, but I got a photo of the everything you ever wanted to know about Coba sign on the way out.  (I missed it on the way in because there were 50 people clustered around it.)

The pyramid structure La Iglesia.  (I got this info off Wikipedia.)

Who needs a brochure!  We immediately recognized this structure as a ball court.  The clue?  The stone hoop.

 Mayan warrior with his pet monkey?   Suggestions welcome!

Please educate me! What's this underneath the stone hoop?

Malateros wait at various places within the site, hoping to catch a tourist in a state of collapse after their long walk or hard climb.

Another ball court.  There are two within Coba.

Ladies and gentlemen!  The main event!  Nohoch Mul!  Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán peninsula -- 120 steps to the top.  And you can still climb it!  (or not)

Craig preparing for the summit!  My original intention, of course, was to climb it.  But -- after Sunday's fall from grace onto the pavement from the bike with the loose handlebars -- Craig and I both decided I was another train wreck waiting to happen.  That, and as Craig so succinctly put it -- he didn't want to be anywhere near me if a tripped once again and rolled down Nohoch Mul!

Excuses are like hineys -- everyone's got one!  LOL  I took this photo of Craig on his way up from terra firma!

I'm betting this woman was a Girl Scout!  There she is sitting up there with her umbrella!  It was high noon (it always is when you decide to climb a pyramid) and the sun was broiling, so hats off (or on) to her.

I'm glad Craig's coordinated and can climb and wave at the same time.  That simple movement probably would have propelled me off the side of the pyramid!

Craig using the Flip video up on top.

Look mom!  No rope!  I'm impressed because I would have been scooting down on my bruised fanny.

The other information sign within Coba.  (There were numerous No Fumar and No Bikes signs on the paths, but those don't count.)

 And here I am at the bottom of the pyramid.

After a bathroom break, we found ourselves stumbling around the parking lot trying to figure out a way back to Tulum.  The ticket seller had told us there was only one ADO bus departing at 3 p.m., so we decided to wing the return trip with a taxi or collectivo.  

We soon figured out that the taxis and vans parked within the lot were already hired.  We spotted an ADO bus sitting across the road and headed that way.  The driver was standing by the door, so we asked him where to buy tickets.  He didn't speak English, we don't speak Spanish.  Hmmmmmm.  A guy at a torta/taco stand spotted us and yelled boletos?  We ran over, bought tickets, and managed to board the bus right as it was departing for Tulum.

Timing is everything!

Some scenes along the highway between Tulum and Coba.  (Taken through the bus window.)

The road between Tulum and Coba is lined with small villages selling handicrafts.  The ADO bus makes one stop at the Grand Cenote.  We were so hot (and the weather's been unseasonably cool our entire trip) after Coba -- a cenote swim would have been a great option.

To add insult to injury after the Sunday bike accident and the long day of walking and touring, you can guess what happened.  We decided to walk all the way back to the condo from the Akumal Pueblo collectivo stop.  Engrossed in conversation in the Akumal Bay area, I broke the number one rule of walking in Mexico.  ALWAYS look down when you walk!  I stepped in a pothole and once again, ended up on the asphalt.  OMG!  This time I landed on the knee, hip, and palms and broke skin.  I think we'll definitely be taking it easy these last few days in Akumal.  Perhaps all walks should be on the beach since sand is much softer than asphalt!


Sue said...

Oh my, you poor bruised soul! Hope you recover quickly, and stay upright!

Jane H. said...

Oh gosh Beck, you are a trooper to walk all that way with those painful bruises. In 1998 a group of friends and I hired a driver in Playa, who led us through Coba. He climbed with me to the top of the tallest pyramid, where I feared passing out from heat exhaustion, but thankfully found shade on the back side (whew!). I still wonder what's buried under all those mysterious tree-covered "hills" edging Coba's long wide path, and think, what a magnificent civilization this was/is.

Janet said...

Wonderful notes Becky! Ouch, be careful these last few days!

Janet said...

Wonderful notes Becky! Ouch, be careful these last few days!

drgeo said...

I get it, the reason the photo of you at the bottom of the pyramid was black and white--was because in color you would be all purple and green! Or maybe you are in Wikipedia too?

isladeb said...

Well, Becky, it was like I just had a deja vu on my last trip to Mexico...to include the injuries. I think I've injured myself on just about every trip I've made to Mexico. And I also had an accident on my bike in Akumal...what a concidence.

Too bad you didn't get to the top of Coba...it was worth the climb to me, even in the mid-summer heat. At least you didn't have to contend with any hurricanes on this trip. Those always add a little excitment.

I totally agree with you on the taxi situation in Akumal...it's ridiculous. When I first got there, I thought I was being generous when I offered the driver 50 pesos for the less-than-two-mile drive and was shocked when he said, "It's 80 pesos." I said, "Are you (insert expletive) serious?!" Haha!

Have you seen any turtle nests on Half Moon Bay?

Life's a Beach! said...

Deb, we probably had the same bike! I think maybe the condo here gets theirs from a place down the road. We actually like it here for the quiet, but the location really begs for a rental car. All the taxi drivers cluster right around that main gate.

We walked back along the road this morning to the scene of the crime. There was exposed rebar down in the pothole, so that accounts for the gridwork abrasion on my knee. Ibuprofen seems to be helping. I'll try to finish off the last two days unscathed. : 0

Island Nana said...

Beck, the guide was worth it at Coba last spring when we were there. I learned a lot from him ...The plaque under the pok ta pok hoop was a newspaper. We hired a taxi through our hotel in Tulum Pueblo, the driver waited for us by the lake while we toured the ruins and then we went to lunch and saw pics of his kids and communicated in Spanglish.

Nancy said...

Wow Becky, I'm so sorry about the fall. So far I have only fallen on the beach by tripping over a boat rope, but I'm waiting for the big one. And then you walked back to the pothole again! Do you scream and yell "$hit" when you fall like I do? LOL.
I wanted to climb just a couple steps when we went to Ek Balam so I could at least have a picture of me on the pyramid, but the steps were so high my hip wouldn't let me even do that. Then in Uxmal we climbed a pyramid by taking metal steps up over the side and ended up on top. I thought, "Cool, I can do this." Then they proceeded down the real steps and I had to go back down the metal steps and never did catch up with the tour.