Friday, March 28, 2008

The Mayan Temple at Coba, Mexico.

Climbing the Grand Pyramid at Cobá was a truly wonderful experience. Hiking the 120+ steps to the top and then looking over the vast expanse of what was once a huge Mayan community was the highlight of my trip. At the top, there is a small temple with a carving over the entrance. There are many theories about the origin of the effigy over the mantle, but one is that it represents a “bee god” and is associated with the planet Venus. In any event, reaching the top of the Grand Pyramid and viewing a canopy of jungle with smaller pyramids protruding above the trees was absolutely fantastic.

The site dates from 600-900 AD and is located at Quintana Roo, 120 miles south of Cancun, Mexico. It is believed that approximately 100,000 people lived in and around the area. More than 50 sacbes (ancient roads) led directly to Cobá which was obviously once a thriving city center. It is a mystery as to why Cobá was eventually deserted – one theory is that a disease decimated the Mayan civilization. Another is that the Mayans overworked the once rich soil and since the land could no longer produce a decent harvest, they moved to more fertile land to sustain their community. Either way, they left the city and it was soon overtaken by the jungle. Only a small percentage of the site has been excavated, and so we can only marvel at the actual size.

I highly recommend a visit to Cobá but suggest using a tour guide service. I was grateful of the running commentary about specific items of interest such as the bee hives (the area is known for its excellent honey) the sacrificial stones, Mayan games and the gum trees from which chewing gum originated.

For visitors with small children or who those who need a little extra help, “human taxis” are available for the 2 mile round trip. The taxis use “peddle power” and are basically a tricycle with two of the wheels and a bench seat up front. They can carry up to two adults and two children. The cost is minimal and provides a unique way to visit the site.

For more information go to here.