Coba RuinsCoba were the first Mayan ruins we saw. The guidebooks promise that Coba is uncrowded and off the beaten path. This is soooo not true anymore... it was blatantly apparent to us that tour buses have discovered it. Even though we took the earliest bus from Valladolid that we could, the ruins were packed with people when we arrived. Coba is located in the jungle near several crocodile-filled lakes. We didn't actually see any crocodiles, but a group that was down the path from us did (apparently the tour guides regularly carry raw chicken to bait the crocodiles into coming out). Since we didn't have any raw chicken, and didn't feel like using our own flesh as bait, we didn't venture too close. The ruins are quite spread out and you have the option of renting a bicycle for the day for 30 pesos (about $2.50 CAD) or hiring a tricycle taxi for a lot more than that. Not being in any kind of rush, we opted to walk. In retrospect, we should have coughed up the couple dollars for the bikes. Oh well... live and learn! Entrance is 51 pesos a person (just over $4.00 CAD). There are several guides at the main entrance willing to show you around for a substantial fee. We weren't willing to pay somewhere in the neighbourhood of $20 CAD for a tour, so we just wondered around and caught bits information from other people's tours. The ruins were okay, but they weren't spectacular. They are in pretty rough shape, though the backdrop of the jungle makes up for it. You need a pretty damn good imagination to see anything in the carvings though. There is one pyramid (Nohoch Mul) that you can climb, but it's hardly a mystical experience when you get to the top, standing shoulder to shoulder with other sweaty tourists looking at the jungle in the blazing hot sun.
Chichen ItzaChichen Itza was incredible. To be honest, I was expecting to be let down by the site. Everything we had heard and read said that it was ridiculously overcrowded. But we were not disappointed. The earliest buses to Chichen Itza left the Valladolid station at 5:00 am, 6:00 am, and 8:15 am. We tried to buy tickets for the 6 am bus, but the lady behind the counter told us we couldn't. She may have been telling us that the gates wouldn't be open yet or she may have been trying to tell us it was raining chickens (our Spanish is pretty poor right now), so we cut our losses and bought tickets for 8:15 am. The tickets cost 20 pesos each. We arrived at the ruins at 9:00 to find... NO ONE. There was one lone tour bus in the parking lot, the ticket building was deserted, and there were only a few vendors along the paths starting to set up their wares. We had about an hour and a half to explore the ruins before other people really started to show up. It was so peaceful that we found a nice shady spot, pulled out our Kindles, and read our books amongst the ruins. El Castillo (a.k.a. Temple of Kukulcan) did not disappoint. It dominated the skyline and mesmerized me. I can definitely see why it is one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Info Box for Chichen Itza: Entrance Cost: 166 pesos for foreigners ($13.50 CAD) Cost of Tour Guide: We were quoted $600 pesos for an English tour. If you want to do a tour, try to find more people to group up with... the cost is the same whether there are two people or ten. Getting There: 45 minute 2nd-class bus ride from Valladolid costs 20 pesos/person (about $1.63 CAD) Services: lockers for luggage, clean & free bathrooms, bus station, bookstore, expensive snacks If you like our pictures, you can check out many more in our Mexican photo album!