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Coba

There’s something a little mystical about walking through an ancient city in the middle of a vast jungle (especially one which name means ‘waters stirred by the wind’).

Coba was probably built between 600-900 AD and was said to have been an important trading post and commercial link between the cities. It is about 80 square kilometers and remains in great condition with very little reconstruction.

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There are some really interesting ruins that have been excavated here so it’s a definite must see if you visit this side of Mexico; in fact I preferred it to Tulum. Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit Chichen Itza due to an unfortunate event but from what I’ve heard, Coba was the ancient ruin not to be missed!

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Nohoch Mul

Nohoch Mul is the star of the show. Literally translated as ‘big mound’ it rises 42 meters high (higher than El Castillo at Chichen Itza) and to this day you can still climb to the top. I won’t lie, I wasn’t the fittest of people when I went to Mexico so I struggled a little bit but it was mostly due to clumsiness and the uneven steps! The view from above is pretty spectacular and like me, you’ll probably be left in awe. It’s pretty cool to see ant like people below you and to be higher than the trees without the use of a plane.

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Excuse my dopey face!

As well as temple pyramids you may spot a ball court or two. Games were an important part of the Mayan society and most cities would have had one. The Mayans did nothing the easy way like us today…they used their hips and elbows to put a rubber ball through a hoop. In Coba the hoops are placed on slanted walls allowing the players to get close to the hoop. Human sacrifice was part of these games and there are varying theories about who would have been sacrificed. Archaeologists are unsure whether it would have been the losing team who would have been sacrificed or the winning team who would have been proud to lose their lives and join the Gods they worshipped. Perhaps it was both at different points in civilisation?

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Have fun exploring!

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That time in Mexico: Part 1

Twenty feels like a lifetime ago now. So many new experiences have enriched my life since then and still I look back at Mexico and remember what an amazing time I had with my childhood friend, Sarah.

It was the first ‘big’ holiday I had ever had and we had booked one of those all-inclusive (and exclusively touristy) packages to Playa Del Carmen, described as one of the hippest places in the Yucatan Peninsula. I vaguely remember arriving and Sarah having to tip the entire contents of her luggage out at the airport before we could proceed any further…do blonde people look more dodgy? It was morning when we left the UK and it was early morning when we arrived in Mexico. We decided to head straight for the beach and relax; although the jet lag wasn’t much of an issue it was still going to be a longer day than usual.

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After settling down a bit, we decided to take a look at the excursions. By the end of the first day we had booked a considerable amount of tours – the operators must have loved us!

Here are some of the places we went and activities we did:

Tulum – Built between the 13th-15th century, Tulum, formerly known as Zama meaning City of Dawn stands tall on the edge of a cliff along the east coast facing the Caribbean Sea. In its heyday it was an important hub for trade particularly in turquoise and jade. It’s also one of the few Mayan cities protected by a wall. The word Tulum itself is the Mayan word for fence, wall or trench. There’s a couple of theories for why the city was surrounded by a wall – most obvious (to me at least) would be to protect the area from invasion. The second theory is that only the high and mighty ones (priests and nobility) could reside within the walls. The peasants were left outside.

If you like history, you should go ahead and check this beauty out. Word of warning though, it gets incredibly hot and humid so be sure to bring a sun hat and plenty of water!

Isla Mujeres aka Island of Women If I remember correctly, we took the catamaran here! It was lots of fun and we got to do a bit of snorkeling in the middle of the luscious turquoise sea While we were swimming the weather turned pretty dark and ominous and the currents were pretty strong so I was quite worried that I wouldn’t make it back!

Xel-Ha – A natural aquarium park full of attractions for everyone. You’ll get the opportunity to come up close and personal with many different species of fishy’s. Before going here I pretty much pooed myself (please don’t take this literally) when in the vicinity of fish. When you’re in the water at Xel-Ha, there’s pretty much no escape! Let’s just say I’m a lot more confident these days. As well as snorkeling, there’s also tubing and so many other activities. You can click here to be directed to their site. I recommend it!

In my next post about Mexico, we’ll be swimming with Whale Sharks!

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