Have Walker, Will Travel
By Mildred Boyd
All Roads Lead to Coba
The modern road to Coba passes several points of interest along the way. There was a monkey refuge and, surprisingly in an area where surface water is almost non-existent, several small lakes. We stopped for lunch beside one and were enjoying a stroll along the shore until a floating log proved to be a crocodile also waiting for his lunch.
That Coba was once the political, religious and commercial center of a vast area is indicated by the fact that all sacbes lead to Coba just as all roads once led to Rome. Only about 10% of the known structures have been excavated and opened to the public.
Although these are inter-connected by the original smoothly paved and level sacbes (white roads), the distances involved make going around on foot difficult for all but the more athletic hikers, avid photographers like my grandson or dedicated birdwatchers like my two daughters. (When I later asked Judy what she liked best of all that we had seen that day, she answered without hesitation, “The Squirrel Cuckoo!” (And, no, I did not see it and still haven’t the foggiest idea what such a strangely named bird looks like.)
However, the powers that be had thought of us elderly weaklings and transportation was provided. I soon found myself making the rounds seated in isolated splendor in one of the strangest vehicles I have ever seen. It was like the bicycle rickshaws found in the Orient except that the open seat wide enough for two people was in front of, not behind, the bicycle rider. This is a common conveyance in the remote areas of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. With boxes of various sizes and shapes instead of the seat, they become delivery vans, roving taco stands and farm-to-market carts. My driver, who seemed to speak only Yucatecan Maya, followed our guide through the dim jungle stretches to each of the open areas in turn and I could sit in comfort as I listened to his explanations.
Here, the climbing of the main pyramid is still allowed but seeing the extreme steepness of the slope and the one flimsy rope by which dozens of tourists were pulling themselves skyward, I wasn’t tempted. I admit to a little twinge of jealousy, however, when I saw Corin’s photos of the superb views. Judy came back down starry-eyed and convinced that the ancients built pyramids, not to be closer to the gods, but to catch a glimpse of the sky.
This was our last day on this trip, but the girls and I would soon be off again. Next stop: Panama and Ecuador!