The Cool Ruins of Coba

Coba Travel Blog

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Coba Walking Path
Thursday, October 22, 2009
It's an easy drive from Tulum to Coba, less than an hour and the contrast of the sunny, beachside site of Tulum and the cool, forested site of Coba makes for a nice change.  There are four main groupings of buildings at Coba, Grupo Coba, Grupo Macanxoc Grupo de las Pinturas and Grupo Nohoch Mul.  Coba is estimated to have had over 40,000 inhabitants at its peak of civilization, and the built up area extends over a very large area compared to Tulum. They think it was built prior to Tulum and Chichen Itza and has a different architectural style (hard to tell if you are a novice.
Pillars at Grupo de las Pinturas
..)

The site was occupied by a sizable agricultural population by the first century with the bulk of Coba's major construction completed in the middle and late Classic period, about 500 to 900 A.D with most of the dated hieroglyphic inscriptions from the 7th century. Coba remained an important site in the Post-Classic era and new temples were built and old ones kept in repair until at least the 14th century, possibly as late as the arrival of the Spanish (who of course trashed everything they could while converting the locals to dogmatic Catholocism).

All in all it is a lot of walking (we bailed on Macanxoc but saw the other three) but you can rent bikes or get pedaled around by the locals in a kind of reverse rickshaw thing.  To the uneducated (us) a lot of the ruins pretty much look the same and you really have to use your imagination on most of the carvings as the stone is soft and weathered.
Temple of "Big Mound" - Grupo Nohoc Mul, Coba
  Each group has typical churches, houses and a ball court for their sport (I think it is called Juego de Pelota or something like that).  We found out later that the players try to keep the rubber ball in the air by hitting it with their hips and body.  Extra bonus points for getting it to go through the stone hole thing in the picture.  Apparently you don't want to be on the losing team as occasionally losers were sacrificed - talk about motivation to win!

Seing Nohoch Mul (the "Big Mound" which is the second tallest Mayan structure on the peninsula at 42 meters) was well worth it; however at the moment (Fall 2009) they are doing rehab work on the pyramid and you can't climb up it for the view.   Watching the workers was pretty entertaining.  They have rigged up a giant pulley system to haul rocks to the top (you can see two of them hauling away in the picture).  Afterward they let the empty bucket rip back down the line until it crashes into the tree the pulley is tied to.

A nice relaxing afternoon before heading off to the city of Valladollid (which we still have trouble pronouncing...)

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Coba Walking Path
Coba Walking Path
Pillars at Grupo de las Pinturas
Pillars at Grupo de las Pinturas
Temple of Big Mound - Grupo Noho…
Temple of "Big Mound" - Grupo Noh…
Coba Carvings
Coba Carvings
The Goal (broken) on Juego de Pelo…
The Goal (broken) on Juego de Pel…
Juego de Pelota Court
Juego de Pelota Court
Nohuch Mul in Coba
Nohuch Mul in Coba
Workers at Nohuch Mul in Coba
Workers at Nohuch Mul in Coba
Coba
photo by: voordax