Prior to the trip (and prior to Sam’s accident) I had been given one day to indulge my geekiness and thirst to explore local culture and I chose to visit Chichen Itza. This meant a stop over in Valladolid. However due to timings; Sam’s mobility (Chichen Itza is MASSSIVE) and both of our eagerness to get to Holbox we decided to visit Coba instead. Coba is situated 40 miles outside of Tulum so literally smack bang between Tulum and Valladolid.
Coba is also the biggest Mayan site in existence although more than 95% remains un-excavated. It was the tail of the snake of the largest and most important of the Mayan roads (the head being Chichen Itza which lied 45 miles to the West). Coba also has the largest Mayan Pyramid in existence and you can climb it (but so can every other Tom, Dick and Harry) which is pretty-cool I suppose.
We paid $75MXN to get in and $125MXN to a bike taxi drive to cycle us the 2km to the big pyramid. The climb was only 125 steps but they were big steps up limestone rocks worn smooth over the years. Still under the hot Mexican sun it is sweat inducing and many tourists in worst shape than I (the Vancouver lifestyle and its mountains brings its benefits) struggled to the top.
The truth is the worst bit is getting down, the steps are uneven and it’s a long way to the bottom. I cannot imagine trying to climb down in the rain as the smooth limestone rocks would be very slippy.
From the top you can see for miles of undisturbed Mexican grassland. Our guide told us that the area would have all have been cleared 500+ years ago but nature had claimed back to area as the civilization fell.
From Coba we headed to Valladolid which was a further hour down the road and; such is the way in the US / Canada / Mexico.. in a whole different time zone. The town (find info).
I had received an email that we had moved hotels but only glanced at the email in Tulum. So I was looking for the wrong place. After an hour of driving round trying to find the right hotel (and finally giving up and turning on data roaming) we found our hotel. It was great; a lovely little oasis in the hustle and bustle of a more traditional Mexican town.
The Wednesday also signified the start of Carnival in Mexico (something we would later discover is MASSSSIVE in Holbox) and the town was alive with activity and we even saw the end of the first parade outside of our restaurant as we ate dinner (it was mainly school kids and reminded me of the carnage of school nativities but cool never-the-less).
Valladolid was rustic and quaint; a start contrast to Tulum and more in my taste. I have no doubt I will one day return. To visit more of the Cenotes which I missed in the area and to visit Chichen Itza.