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.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

A patch of the Kalahari Desert dries up or is irrigated depending on the region's tectonic whims. In Savuti, lions have become used to depending on themselves and prey on the largest animals in the savannah.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Architecture & Design
Castles and Fortresses

A Defending World: Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
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.
Military Religious, Wailing Wall, IDF Flag Oath, Jerusalem, Israel
Ceremonies and Festivities
Jerusalem, Israel

A Festive Wailing Wall

The holiest place in Judaism is not only attended by prayers and prayers. Its ancient stones have witnessed the oath of new IDF recruits for decades and echo the euphoric screams that follow.
Hiroshima, city surrendered to peace, Japan
Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima: a City Yielded to Peace

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima succumbed to the explosion of the first atomic bomb used in war. 70 years later, the city fights for the memory of the tragedy and for nuclear weapons to be eradicated by 2020.
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
Saphire Cabin, Purikura, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Style Passaport-Type Photography

In the late 80s, two Japanese multinationals already saw conventional photo booths as museum pieces. They turned them into revolutionary machines and Japan surrendered to the Purikura phenomenon.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
M:S Viking Tor Ferry-Wrapped Passenger, Aurlandfjord, Norway
Flam a Balestrand, Norway

Where the Mountains Give In to the Fjords

The final station of the Flam Railway marks the end of the dizzying railway descent from the highlands of Hallingskarvet to the plains of Flam. In this town too small for its fame, we leave the train and sail down the Aurland fjord towards the prodigious Balestrand.
North Island, New Zealand, Maori, Surfing time
North Island, New Zealand

Journey along the Path of Maority

New Zealand is one of the countries where the descendants of settlers and natives most respect each other. As we explored its northern island, we became aware of the interethnic maturation of this very old nation. Commonwealth as Maori and Polynesia.
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.
Museum of Petroleum, Stavanger, Norway
Stavanger, Norway

The Motor City of Norway

The abundance of offshore oil and natural gas and the headquarters of the companies in charge of exploiting them have promoted Stavanger from the Norwegian energy capital preserve. Even so, this city didn't conform. With a prolific historical legacy, at the gates of a majestic fjord, cosmopolitan Stavanger has long propelled the Land of the Midnight Sun.
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.
St. Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia, Caucasus
Winter White
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
shadow vs light
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.
Principe Island, São Tomé and Principe
Príncipe, São Tomé and Principe

Journey to the Noble Retreat of Príncipe Island

150 km of solitude north of the matriarch São Tomé, the island of Príncipe rises from the deep Atlantic against an abrupt and volcanic mountain-covered jungle setting. Long enclosed in its sweeping tropical nature and a contained but moving Luso-colonial past, this small African island still houses more stories to tell than visitors to listen to.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States,
Natural Parks
PN Joshua Tree, California, United States

The Arms stretched out to Heaven of the PN Joshua Tree

Arriving in the extreme south of California, we are amazed by the countless Joshua trees that sprout from the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Like the Mormon settlers who named them, we cross and praise these inhospitable settings of the North American Far West.
Zanzibar, African islands, spices, Tanzania, dhow
UNESCO World Heritage
Zanzibar, Tanzania

The African Spice Islands

Vasco da Gama opened the Indian Ocean to the Portuguese empire. In the XNUMXth century, the Zanzibar archipelago became the largest producer of cloves and the available spices diversified, as did the people who disputed them.
Correspondence verification
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
El Nido, Palawan the Last Philippine Border
El Nido, Philippines

El Nido, Palawan: The Last Philippine Frontier

One of the most fascinating seascapes in the world, the vastness of the rugged islets of Bacuit hides gaudy coral reefs, small beaches and idyllic lagoons. To discover it, just one fart.
Armenia Cradle Christianity, Mount Aratat

The Cradle of the Official Christianity

Just 268 years after Jesus' death, a nation will have become the first to accept the Christian faith by royal decree. This nation still preserves its own Apostolic Church and some of the oldest Christian temples in the world. Traveling through the Caucasus, we visit them in the footsteps of Gregory the Illuminator, the patriarch who inspires Armenia's spiritual life.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Buffaloes, Marajo Island, Brazil, Soure police buffaloes
Marajó Island, Brazil

The Buffalo Island

A vessel that transported buffaloes from the India it will have sunk at the mouth of the Amazon River. Today, the island of Marajó that hosted them has one of the largest herds in the world and Brazil is no longer without these bovine animals.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.