Drug lords, bacteria-filled water, pick-pocketers. Mexico sounds like a scary place.
All-inclusive, sandy beaches, endless buffets. Mexico sounds dreamy.
But how much do you actually know about Mexico?
I knew that when a group of friends booked an all-inclusive resort in Rivera Maya, I wanted to get off of that resort. I wanted to see the real Mexico. Were my friends up for it? I didn’t know, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
The next thing I knew, I was booking an ecoarchaelogical excursion with AllTourNative.
Flash forward to the Wednesday morning mid-relaxing vacation. The three of us, dressed and ready to go:
- Fanny pack
- Shorts and Tank
- Bathing Suit
- Sunscreen (minimal, by request of AllTourNative)
Carlos picked us up as the sun was coming up, along with a family of four, the twins and one of their boyfriends and the Canadian couple. And we were off for our Coba Maya Encouter!
Remember when everyone said the Mayans were gone and their calendar predicted the world ending and stuff like that? So so wrong.
An hour or so later, we parked in Coba. We began our adventure by heading straight to the Mayan ruins. Our first task was to learn how to communicate with the Mayans – they were opening up the doors to their very private communities after all. We learned the most important basics, most importantly “Thank You” pronounced “Joomba-tik.”
Carlos explained that Mexico doesn’t spend a lot of money on archaeological preservation, but that the temples that are uncovered took years to do so and the large mounds of overgrown greenery were covering other ruins. Mexico is actually flat around these parts.
After visiting the initial temple and sporting arena, we hopped on bikes and rode through the jungle. It was a HOT day, and we weren’t privy to the ocean breeze like at the resort. The bike ride through the jungle was one of our favorite parts of this expedition (and was definitely M’s fav!).
We actually had the option of taking a “limo” or walking as well, but the bike seemed like a good compromise between super lazy and actually getting to see the rest of the temples. (M and J might be super slow walkers…)
There were several temples on the way to see the big man on campus and we stopped at each one, examining their unique shapes and pondering their purpose.
When we arrived at our final destination (for the morning), it was incredible. The Nohoch Muul is the biggest temple in the Yucatan peninsula. Bigger than I imagined and ever-intimidating, the plan was to climb it.
And so we did. As someone who is VERY afraid of heights (and public speaking), I started getting that nauseous feeling in my stomach. The more stairs I climbed the worse it got.
When we got to the top, all the people bumping around and taking pictures nearly drove my anxiety through the roof, but the view made up for the climb. (Sort of a paradox for life I think. The harder the climb, the better the view.)
The down part was supposed to be easier, but I think it took me twice as long scooting down on my butt for fear of toppling head first down the hundreds of stone steps.
Immediately suiting up and hopping aboard a canoe to make our way to the zip lines! We canoed, hiked and zip-lined through the jungle before taking a break to meet with a Mayan shaman. Hot and sticky, we were grateful to take a seat and soak in our surroundings. The shaman spoke with us and then began a chant to bless us “Estades Unites, Carlos and Canada!” You can check out the video on my Facebook.
After, we were instructed to shower any dirt, oils or sunscreens off of our bodies to preserve the purity of the cenote that we were about to rappel down into. (More heights, I know.)
My first question before plummeting down into the underground was “How do we get out?”
Don’t worry, there were options.
- Climb a massive rope ladder swinging through the air OR
- Be hoisted up in a Mayan elevator
As much as I thought the rope ladder sounded like a brilliant idea, and I’m sure I’d feel like a badass after, I decided to go with the Mayan elevator. The cenote’s water was black, cool, crisp and clean. We floated around for while on tubes and watched the bats flit around in the corners of the cave before one-by-one were lifted back up to ground level.
After we dried off, we hit the trail back down to the Mayan feast that awaited us on a porch overlooking the lagoon we had earlier canoed across. Teas made from flowers, homemade tortillas, chicken (Carlos nearly had me convinced it was iguana) and soup and spicy salsa filled our hungry stomachs. If you’re not into trying new food, don’t worry, you couldn’t go wrong with anything served.
Finally, we had free range of the local artisan’s shops, and Carlos had promised tequila if we’d made it through our adventure. So tequila we had!
After everyone had taken their tequila shots and shopped the goods, we packed up, exhausted and feeling pretty accomplished with ourselves, and headed back to the resort. Today we had discovered the Mayans. The Mayans opened their world to us, let us in, and treated us like family. Joomba tik, Coba, and AllTourNative!