Cobá to Pac Chen, Mexico

From the Ruins to the Mayan Homes

Mayans of now
Three of the Marias from the clan that inhabits the Hidalgo camp.
pitch water
The dark, alligator-inhabited lagoon of Pac Ben, used by this Mayan eco-village for zip lines.
Top in sight
Couple about to reach the top of the Nohuch Mul pyramid in Cobá.
village protector
One of Pac Ben's pond alligators.
Trio of Mayan cooks frying empanadas for Pac Chen's restaurant.
Nohuch Mul
The most impressive of the Mayan pyramids in Cobá.
Mayan traits
Mayan girl from the Hidalgo camp, a small clan near Cobá.
Cycle rides
Visitors aboard tricycles that cover part of what might have been the ancient sacbés (Mayan paths).
Adolph Shaman
Xaman Adolfo blesses newer visitors to Pac Chen's village.
On the Yucatan Peninsula, the history of the second largest indigenous Mexican people is intertwined with their daily lives and merges with modernity. In Cobá, we went from the top of one of its ancient pyramids to the heart of a village of our times.

“Friends, excuse me but I'm really going to insist that you don't call them ruins, shall I? Ruins are buildings in disrepair.

I think we all agree that it's not really the case with these…” the guide Miguel professed from the front of the van as we completed the road that took us from the outskirts of Tulum and from the turquoise coastline of the Caribbean Sea to the flat, jungle-lined interior of the Yucatan Peninsula and its province of Quintana Roo.

We arrived shortly thereafter and had to decide what would be the means of travel in the vast complex. Archaeologists believe that, at its origin, Cobá had about 50km2 and, between 400 and 1100 AD, it housed about forty thousand Mayan inhabitants.

They also believe that only 5% of the buildings were dug up. Even so, the jungle area we were going to cover was relatively vast and we were loaded.

We opted to take a ride on one of the many tricycles of a local fleet at the service of visitors.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, tricycles

Visitors aboard tricycles that cover part of what might have been the ancient sacbés (Mayan paths).

The Majestic Mayan Pyramids of Cobá

In addition to being extensive, Cobá includes the highest of the Mayan pyramids on the Yucatan Peninsula, Nohuch Mul, or great mound in the native dialect.

For a long time, the ascent to the top of its 42 meters was prohibited by archaeologists, due to the wear and tear it caused on the stones.

But the pressure of guides and other workers who had had enough of the tourist supremacy of more famous complexes like Chichen Itzá, Tulum and Palenque, caused the authorities to relent.

Nohuch Mul has now become, for all who do not suffer from vertigo and – as we have witnessed – even for some of the most courageous unfortunates, a historic zenith to conquer.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Nohuch Mul

The most impressive of the Mayan pyramids in Cobá.

Cobá's architecture proved to be a mystery that the very meaning of the Mayan name “water stirred by the wind” seems to justify.

It continues to intrigue archaeologists why its huge pyramids look more like those of Tikal, Guatemala, than those of Chichen Itzá or others on the Yucatan Peninsula, much closer.

Some have suggested that an alliance with Tikal had been established through marriages in order to facilitate trade between the Mayans today in Guatemala and the Yucatecans. The extensive network of bags (paved rails) that existed in this area and which had Cobá as their axis – some with more than 100 km in length – served this same trade.

around 40 bags Different roads passed through Cobá, an impressive infrastructure that proves the dynamism of the Mayan people when the Spanish conquerors arrived.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins,

Vultures dry their wings in the morning sun, atop the pyramid of Nohuch Mul.

The Somewhat Vertiginous Ascent to the Top of Nohuch Mul

It would not be, of course, for one of these bags we were following, but with vigorous pedaling, the tricycle driver left us at the base of the big Nohuch Mul. "There she is!" he announced to us relieved at the end of his journey.

"Have fun, preferably go up in a zigzag and see where you put your feet.!"

For a moment, we stood contemplating that stone stairway to heaven lost in the rainforest that, at the moment, led to white clouds.

In the meantime, we gained courage and inaugurated the overwhelming ascent. First in a straight line, but when the steps started to increase in size – as well as the height we reached – to those, just as we had been advised to do.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, ascension

Couple about to reach the top of the Nohuch Mul pyramid in Cobá.

We passed visitors who were obese, or simply older and already in obvious difficulty, dizzy or overheated.

We were passed by teenagers in Olympic form who climbed as high as they could almost in a race to show themselves and the imaginary competitors their physical prowess.

At our pace, we reached the top there. As soon as we could, we caught our breath, turned around and claimed our reward. Onward and out of sight, stretched the tropical jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient home of the great and resilient Mayan people.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins,

Skull embedded in a surface of the Cobá complex.

As a rule, guides in the region spare themselves from these intense physical efforts that, if they didn't dodge, they might have to do on a daily basis. Miguel was no exception.

He just waited for our descent into the shade.

Temple of the Churches and the Remaining Cobá Archaeological Complex

After the last step, we continue with the tour through the Cobá complex, through its Temple of Las Iglésias, the most prominent pyramid, through the unavoidable Mayan ball game, a structure and sport shared by several ancient Mayan cities and that exist today reliable representations.

The heat and humidity were beginning to weaken us. At the first complaint, Miguel and his colleague Emma – who had joined him in the meantime – guided us to a food and beverage area in the complex. “I think we're all in need of a refreshment and maybe something else, Miguel suggested.”

We have carefully examined the offer of the Mayan sellers.

We ended up choosing coconut in pieces sprinkled with honey and, in the good Mexican way, a smell of chili. The mixture left us boiling more than we expected.

At the very least, the nutritious nut took care of restoring the calories and minerals we were lacking.

Thus, in the process of physical recovery, we traveled to Pac Chen, a nearby Mayan village that had recently joined ecotourism.

From Coba's Past to Pac Chen's Mayan Life Now

We entered the village directly into its dining room.

Coba's farewell treat had slightly disguised her once ravenous hunger.

Accordingly, we took the opportunity to investigate the space in which the village was located, the large balcony that gave rise to the living room, the lagoon and the surrounding jungle.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, lake

The dark, alligator-inhabited lagoon of Pac Ben, used by this Mayan eco-village for zip lines.

On the way back, we also came across the kitchen where three Mayan women chattered in their dialect as they prepared and fried empanadas in series in a large frying pan.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Empañaderas

Trio of Mayan cooks frying empanadas for Pac Chen's restaurant.

We got into conversation in Castilian. A joke is a joke, because we pretend to be picky with the quality of the meal we were hoping for, we ended up recruited to help.

"How good are you with a skimmer, seños, have you seen how many more are there to fry?" shoots Regina Pot, the most willing.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Shaman Adolfo

Xaman Adolfo blesses newer visitors to Pac Chen's village.

After the traditional lunch, Adolfo, the village shaman blessed us and a group of other outsiders about to enter the Mayan underworld which gave access to the local cenote (underground lagoon).

Without knowing it, he also blessed us for the zipline that we quickly regretted on another pitch-black pond other than the one we had stalked before, full of alligators.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, crocodile

One of Pac Ben's pond alligators.

Sweet Homes Mayan Homes between Pac Chen and Cobá

On the return from Pac-Chen to Tulum, we even stopped at the home of a clan that, for some reason, the guides knew as Hidalgo camp and where all the members were called now Maria and now José, but they were called second names to avoid confusion.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Mayans of now

Three of the Marias from the clan that inhabits the Hidalgo camp.

There, while the younger children were keen to show off their musical tune with handcrafted instruments, we could see how little or nothing the living conditions of the most humble Mayans have evolved since the height of their empire to the present day.

Numerous, the family shared a small, somewhat dreary wooden house and some additional huts among themselves and with monkeys, chickens, pigs, wild boars and other specimens. They survived almost only from these animals and from the sale of handicrafts and clothing to tourists who stopped there or which the guides took there.

In 2005, Maria Isidra Hoil, a sister of Maria's matriarch of the clan, found an unexpected and much more profitable source of income.

So at the age of eight, she was selected by the casting of "Apocalypto" by Mel Gibson, the Hollywood feature film that followed “The Passion of the Christ” and portrayed the drama of the intensification of human sacrifices dictated by the Mayan emperors when faced with the decay of the empire.


Mayan traits

Mayan girl from the Hidalgo camp, a small clan near Cobá.

On that date, the girl only spoke Mayan and had never seen a movie.

She ended up having a performance as a girl from the Oracle that surprised and amazed Gibson, the rest of the team, spectators from all over the world as well as other directors, such as the controversial Spike Lee, who included “Apocalypto” on your list of essential movies.

As might be expected, Lee's opinion and those in agreement were not exactly consensual.

Several Mayan communities in both the Yucatan and Guatemalans protested against the Mexican authorities and the work for displaying a wrong image, too bloodthirsty, of their ancient culture.

Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Hidalgo camp

Young Mayan women from the Hidalgo village, between Pac Chen and Cobá.

Izamal, Mexico

The Holy, Yellow and Beautiful Mexican City

Until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Izamal was a center of worship for the supreme Mayan god Itzamná and Kinich Kakmó, the one of the sun. Gradually, the invaders razed the various pyramids of the natives. In its place, they built a large Franciscan convent and a prolific colonial houses, with the same solar tone in which the now Catholic city shines.
Campeche, Mexico

Campeche Upon Can Pech

As was the case throughout Mexico, the conquerors arrived, saw and won. Can Pech, the Mayan village, had almost 40 inhabitants, palaces, pyramids and an exuberant urban architecture, but in 1540 there were less than 6 natives. Over the ruins, the Spaniards built Campeche, one of the most imposing colonial cities in the Americas.
Tulum, Mexico

The Most Caribbean of the Mayan Ruins

Built by the sea as an exceptional outpost decisive for the prosperity of the Mayan nation, Tulum was one of its last cities to succumb to Hispanic occupation. At the end of the XNUMXth century, its inhabitants abandoned it to time and to an impeccable coastline of the Yucatan peninsula.
Mérida, Mexico

The Most Exuberant of Meridas

In 25 BC, the Romans founded Emerita Augusta, capital of Lusitania. The Spanish expansion generated three other Méridas in the world. Of the four, the Yucatan capital is the most colorful and lively, resplendent with Hispanic colonial heritage and multi-ethnic life.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico

The Home Sweet Home of Mexican Social Conscience

Mayan, mestizo and Hispanic, Zapatista and tourist, country and cosmopolitan, San Cristobal has no hands to measure. In it, Mexican and expatriate backpacker visitors and political activists share a common ideological demand.

Mexico City, Mexico

mexican soul

With more than 20 million inhabitants in a vast metropolitan area, this megalopolis marks, from its heart of zócalo, the spiritual pulse of a nation that has always been vulnerable and dramatic.

Champoton, Mexico

Rodeo Under Sombreros

Champoton, in Campeche, hosts a fair honored by the Virgén de La Concepción. O rodeo Mexican under local sombreros reveals the elegance and skill of the region's cowboys.
San Cristóbal de las Casas a Campeche, Mexico

A Relay of Faith

The Catholic equivalent of Our Lady of Fátima, Our Lady of Guadalupe moves and moves Mexico. Its faithful cross the country's roads, determined to bring the proof of their faith to the patroness of the Americas.
Campeche, Mexico

200 Years of Playing with Luck

At the end of the XNUMXth century, the peasants surrendered to a game introduced to cool the fever of cash cards. Today, played almost only for Abuelites, lottery little more than a fun place.
Yucatan, Mexico

The End of the End of the World

The announced day passed but the End of the World insisted on not arriving. In Central America, today's Mayans watched and put up with incredulity all the hysteria surrounding their calendar.
Campeche, Mexico

A Bingo so playful that you play with puppets

On Friday nights, a group of ladies occupy tables at Independencia Park and bet on trifles. The tiniest prizes come out to them in combinations of cats, hearts, comets, maracas and other icons.
Yucatan, Mexico

The Sidereal Murphy's Law That Doomed the Dinosaurs

Scientists studying the crater caused by a meteorite impact 66 million years ago have come to a sweeping conclusion: it happened exactly over a section of the 13% of the Earth's surface susceptible to such devastation. It is a threshold zone on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula that a whim of the evolution of species allowed us to visit.
Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico

The Mayan Capital That Piled It Up To Collapse

The term Uxmal means built three times. In the long pre-Hispanic era of dispute in the Mayan world, the city had its heyday, corresponding to the top of the Pyramid of the Diviner at its heart. It will have been abandoned before the Spanish Conquest of the Yucatan. Its ruins are among the most intact on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico

The Deep Mexico of the Barrancas del Cobre

Without warning, the Chihuahua highlands give way to endless ravines. Sixty million geological years have furrowed them and made them inhospitable. The Rarámuri indigenous people continue to call them home.
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
chihuahua, Mexico

¡Ay Chihuahua !

Mexicans have adapted this expression as one of their favorite manifestations of surprise. While we wander through the capital of the homonymous state of the Northwest, we often exclaim it.
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

On the Edge of the Cenote, at the Heart of the Mayan Civilization

Between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries AD, Chichen Itza stood out as the most important city in the Yucatan Peninsula and the vast Mayan Empire. If the Spanish Conquest precipitated its decline and abandonment, modern history has consecrated its ruins a World Heritage Site and a Wonder of the World.
Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

From New Spain Lode to Mexican Pueblo Mágico

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, it was one of the mining towns that guaranteed the most silver to the Spanish Crown. A century later, the silver had been devalued in such a way that Real de Catorce was abandoned. Its history and the peculiar scenarios filmed by Hollywood have made it one of the most precious villages in Mexico.
Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

The Depreciation of Silver that Led to that of the Pueblo (Part II)

With the turn of the XNUMXth century, the value of the precious metal hit bottom. From a prodigious town, Real de Catorce became a ghost. Still discovering, we explore the ruins of the mines at their origin and the charm of the Pueblo resurrected.
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Edward James' Mexican Delirium

In the rainforest of Xilitla, the restless mind of poet Edward James has twinned an eccentric home garden. Today, Xilitla is lauded as an Eden of the Surreal.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Architecture & Design
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Parade and Pomp
Ceremonies and Festivities
Saint Petersburg, Russia

When the Russian Navy Stations in Saint Petersburg

Russia dedicates the last Sunday of July to its naval forces. On that day, a crowd visits large boats moored on the Neva River as alcohol-drenched sailors seize the city.
patriot march

Formosa but Unsafe

Portuguese navigators could not imagine the imbroglio reserved for the Formosa they baptized. Nearly 500 years later, even though it is uncertain of its future, Taiwan still prospers. Somewhere between independence and integration in greater China.
young saleswoman, nation, bread, uzbekistan
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
Gothic couple

Matarraña to Alcanar, Spain (España)

A Medieval Spain

Traveling through the lands of Aragon and Valencia, we come across towers and detached battlements of houses that fill the slopes. Mile after kilometer, these visions prove to be as anachronistic as they are fascinating.


Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
Princess Yasawa Cruise, Maldives

Cruise the Maldives, among Islands and Atolls

Brought from Fiji to sail in the Maldives, Princess Yasawa has adapted well to new seas. As a rule, a day or two of itinerary is enough for the genuineness and delight of life on board to surface.

The World on Stage

All over the world, each nation, region or town and even neighborhood has its own culture. When traveling, nothing is more rewarding than admiring, live and in loco, which makes them unique.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
In the middle of the Gold Coast
Elmina, Ghana

The First Jackpot of the Portuguese Discoveries

In the century. XVI, Mina generated to the Crown more than 310 kg of gold annually. This profit aroused the greed of the The Netherlands and from England, which succeeded one another in the place of the Portuguese and promoted the slave trade to the Americas. The surrounding village is still known as Elmina, but today fish is its most obvious wealth.
Ruins, Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering Tassie, Part 2 - Hobart to Port Arthur, Australia

An Island Doomed to Crime

The prison complex at Port Arthur has always frightened the British outcasts. 90 years after its closure, a heinous crime committed there forced Tasmania to return to its darkest times.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Winter White
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira, Portugal
Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira, Portugal

The Eastern, Somehow Extraterrestrial Madeira Tip

Unusual, with ocher tones and raw earth, Ponta de São Lourenço is often the first sight of Madeira. When we walk through it, we are fascinated, above all, with what the most tropical of the Portuguese islands is not.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Terraces of Sistelo, Serra do Soajo, Arcos de Valdevez, Minho, Portugal
Natural Parks
Sistelo, Peneda-Gerês, Portugal

From the “Little Portuguese Tibet” to the Corn Fortresses

We leave the cliffs of Srª da Peneda, heading for Arcos de ValdeVez and the villages that an erroneous imaginary dubbed Little Portuguese Tibet. From these terraced villages, we pass by others famous for guarding, as golden and sacred treasures, the ears they harvest. Whimsical, the route reveals the resplendent nature and green fertility of these lands in Peneda-Gerês.
Thira, Santorini, Greece
UNESCO World Heritage
Thira Santorini, Greece

Fira: Between the Heights and the Depths of Atlantis

Around 1500 BC a devastating eruption sank much of the volcano-island Fira into the Aegean Sea and led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization, referred to over and over again as Atlantis. Whatever the past, 3500 years later, Thira, the city of the same name, is as real as it is mythical.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Gizo, Solomon Islands

A Saeraghi Young Singers Gala

In Gizo, the damage caused by the tsunami that hit the Solomon Islands is still very visible. On the coast of Saeraghi, children's bathing happiness contrasts with their heritage of desolation.
Ice cream, Moriones Festival, Marinduque, Philippines
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Sentosa Island, Singapore, Family on Sentosa Artificial Beach
Sentosa, Singapore

Singapore's Fun Island

It was a stronghold where the Japanese murdered Allied prisoners and welcomed troops who pursued Indonesian saboteurs. Today, the island of Sentosa fights the monotony that gripped the country.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Hippopotamus in Anôr Lagoon, Orango Island, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau
Kéré Island to Orango, Bijagos, Guinea Bissau

In Search of the Lacustrine-Marine and Sacred Bijagós Hippos

They are the most lethal mammals in Africa and, in the Bijagós archipelago, preserved and venerated. Due to our particular admiration, we joined an expedition in their quest. Departing from the island of Kéré and ending up inland from Orango.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.