Sunday 7th, 8:30, some students and staff are off to Cobá!....... After an easy 100 km drive, we arrive at Cobá…. 10 am, it´s already quite hot so we decide to rent bicycles. The site is huge and a bike makes the visit much more enjoyable.
obá is different from the other major sites in Yucatan. There are 4 lakes in the area, something uncommon in Yucatan. Cobá means "Waters stirred by wind". The site is not as excavated nor reconstructed as Tulum or Chichen itzá. Coba still has big structures covered by jungle. It is much less visited than Chichen Itza or Tulum and the first visitors in the morning can have the site for themselves. Coba dates from the Classic Period, 600 to 900 AD, when it was abandoned. At its height it had a population of around 50,000. Once an important trading post and a commercial link between the cities on the coast and those inland, it remained covered by jungle until the 1890s.
We ride among trees, plants, stelae, temples, with beautiful butterflies and colorful birds flying around. We stop at stelae, at the ball courts, before arriving to Nohoch Mul, a 42 meter high pyramid (higher than El Castillo at Chichen Itzá). Up we go, 112 steep, narrow, uneven steps……. The view from the top is well worth the effort. We can admire the lakes, the dense jungle and here and there pyramids and unexcavated structures. Nohoch Mul is the highest Mayan structure in Yucatán. Climbing down is not easier, often on hands, butt and feet (not for us, though…..)
We also stopped by two ball courts. Those at Cobá are much smaller than the one at Chichen Itzá. The game was played between two teams, using only their hips and elbows to get a rubber ball through a stone ring. Human sacrifice was part of the game, although there are different theories as to who actually was sacrificed - the winners or the losers?
After over two hours on the site, we return our bicycles and decide to go on to our next stop, Punta Laguna. Only 20 km from Cobá, Punta Laguna is home to the Reserve of Spider monkey, set in the Mayan jungle, It surrounds the lagoon of the same name, the main water source for the inhabitants and the wildlife.
The local Mayan community was hosting a musical event organized by Dreams for Mayan Children, a non profit organization (www.dreamsformayanchildren.org) Chak, a great local artist played for the community and the visitors and explained the situation of the community, threatened by a development that would exclude them.
The community children sang for us and the women welcomed us with water and handmade tortillas. After the concert we took a short walk to the beautiful lagoon where it is possible to swim, kayak and walk in the jungle to watch the spider monkeys.
The rain interrupted our plans, but we decided that we would go back to visit the reserve and bring some school supplies to the children in the village. These children need to be able to grow up in their community and get proper education within their own culture.