Day 2: Ruins

As I mentioned before, as soon as our heads hit our pillows, we were out. And try as we could to get up at a decent hour, we just couldn’t wake up. (This was extremely detrimental as we are supposed to be training for the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay with a morning run… oops! Sorry team! We still walked about 4 or 5 miles.). Finally, we pulled ourselves out of bed, prepared ourselves for the day, and rushed to change money and catch a bus. This ended up being a total hassle as the bank needed our passports and a copy of our passports; meaning Kyle had to run back to our hotel twice. In the end, we got on the ADO bus just in time. Thank goodness.

The bus took us south of Playa Del Carmen to a place called Coba. Coba is the home of some ancient Mayan ruins. These date back to 600 – 900 AD and include various buildings, pyramids, and ball parks. It is amazing to see what these ancient people were able to do. They clearly had a very advanced civilization. During our walk through the park, we also saw an array of birds, beetles, and large but beautiful butterflies.

The highlight had to be our experience climbing the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, Nohoch Mul. This pyramid was a 124 steep step climb to the top, but completely worth it as the view was amazing. You could see the lush and dense jungle for miles around, and sometimes even the top of a neighboring pyramid. It was amazing! In the end, we had to get back to catch our bus, so Kyle hired a cart and driver to bike us back to the entrance of the park. Though I was often scared we were going to tip over, it was quite a thrill.

Next stop: Tulum. A city that contained our next meal and more Mayan ruins. After arrival, we walked around for a bit looking for a decent place to eat. In our search, we came across a quaint little shop that sold Mayan food. Why not? We thought as we are focusing a good amount of our day on the Mayans. Kyle had this on his mission before, but I had never experienced it. And my, how I loved it! Kyle ordered us some sabutes and panuchos. These are basically deep fried corn tortillas (the panuchos have beans in the middle), covered in meat, cabbage, avocado, tomato, and pink onions. Wow… so good!

After indulging ourselves, we headed off the the next set of ruins. These were nestled right up against the beach and surrounded by walls. In ancient times, these served as barriers to protect the people inside. Again, like in Coba, the architecture was incredible. Instead of large pyramids, this collection of ruins focused on smaller buildings, but there were many of them. There was a palace, places for governmental people to live, a place to worship, and so on. There were also iguanas all over; randomly running across the path or sun bathing on a nearby rock.

Kyle and I were interested to learn that on the facade of many of their religious and civil buildings, there are three figures depicted. The one of the left is sitting straight up as a bearded god. The middle figure is upside down showing that he descended down to the people. That figure looks just like the one on the left. The final area on the right is empty, representing a spirit god. Take note that this is a civilization that had been around for many centuries but moved up to the Yucatan Peninsula from Guatemala around 500 AD. There are quite a few implications with this but I won’t go into details. If you are interested, do some research on this people and then read the Book of Mormon.

Another short taxi ride and we found ourselves at Akumal, a beach known for the many sea turtles that come to visit. We both went to the changing areas to put on our swimsuits. And that is when I realized, I brought two bottoms. That was frustrating as a beautiful beach was right there, our hotel was a good half hour away and it was so hot and humid. In the end, we figured out another option by having me wear Kyle’s tank top that he had brought as a cover up. Not glamorous at all, but it worked. We got there later in the day so many people had already left allowing us to enjoy sea turtle watching in peace. Between the two of us, we saw around 20 sea turtles munching away on the sea weed on the ocean floor.

After a taxi ride home, a scrubbing off the sea salt, we met up with Kyle’s old  friend Emmanuel Brito. He also brought another friend along who was so fun to talk to as she lived right in Playa. We all went to get a quick dinner and then to some delicious gelato which we all ate very slowly to savor all the amazing flavors. In the end, we walked around Playa seeing the sights and taking the atmosphere created by all the shops, tourists, and locals… The perfect way to end the evening.

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