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 Overall 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.
Overall, 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.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
shadow vs light
Architecture & Design
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Full Dog Mushing
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.
Jumping forward, Pentecost Naghol, Bungee Jumping, Vanuatu
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Pentecost Naghol: Bungee Jumping for Real Men

In 1995, the people of Pentecostes threatened to sue extreme sports companies for stealing the Naghol ritual. In terms of audacity, the elastic imitation falls far short of the original.
Candia, Tooth of Buddha, Ceylon, lake
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Cuada village, Flores Island, Azores, rainbow quarter
Aldeia da Cuada, Flores Island, Azores

The Azorean Eden Betrayed by the Other Side of the Sea

Cuada was founded, it is estimated that in 1676, next to the west threshold of Flores. In the XNUMXth century, its residents joined the great Azorean stampede to the Americas. They left behind a village as stunning as the island and the Azores.

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.
Mount Lamjung Kailas Himal, Nepal, altitude sickness, mountain prevent treat, travel
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
Vietnamese queue

Nha Trang-Doc Let, Vietnam

The Salt of the Vietnamese Land

In search of attractive coastlines in old Indochina, we become disillusioned with the roughness of Nha Trang's bathing area. And it is in the feminine and exotic work of the Hon Khoi salt flats that we find a more pleasant Vietnam.

ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Howler Monkey, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tortuguero: From the Flooded Jungle to the Caribbean Sea

After two days of impasse due to torrential rain, we set out to discover the Tortuguero National Park. Channel after channel, we marvel at the natural richness and exuberance of this Costa Rican fluvial marine ecosystem.
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.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
UNESCO World Heritage
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
Bather, The Baths, Devil's Bay (The Baths) National Park, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda's Divine “Caribbaths”

Discovering the Virgin Islands, we disembark on a tropical and seductive seaside dotted with huge granite boulders. The Baths seem straight out of the Seychelles but they are one of the most exuberant marine scenery in the Caribbean.
Djerba Island of Tunisia, Amazigh and its camels
Djerba, Tunisia

The Tunisian Island of Conviviality

The largest island in North Africa has long welcomed people who could not resist it. Over time, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs called it home. Today, Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities continue an unusual sharing of Djerba with its native Berbers.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Magome to Tsumago, Nakasendo, Path medieval Japan
Magome-Tsumago, Japan

Magome to Tsumago: The Overcrowded Path to the Medieval Japan

In 1603, the Tokugawa shogun dictated the renovation of an ancient road system. Today, the most famous stretch of the road that linked Edo to Kyoto is covered by a mob eager to escape.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Jeep crosses Damaraland, Namibia
Damaraland, Namíbia

Namibia On the Rocks

Hundreds of kilometers north of Swakopmund, many more of Swakopmund's iconic dunes Sossuvlei, Damaraland is home to deserts interspersed with hills of reddish rock, the highest mountain and ancient rock art of the young nation. the settlers South Africans they named this region after the Damara, one of the Namibian ethnic groups. Only these and other inhabitants prove that it remains on Earth.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.