Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Photos by Julia Aron

There are about 3 towns between Tulum and Coba and when I say town, I mean 3 or 4 stores on a short stretch of road. It’s hot, but we are excited for our adventure.

The main attraction in Coba is the Ruins. Much larger than the Ruins in Tulum, it was recommended that we visit the Ruins first and then head to the Cenotes. Julia and I both agreed that we had no interest in more Ruins so we headed straight for the Cenotes. A new friend of ours, Josh, tried to draw a map for us directing us to the best Cenote in the area. He also explained it as he drew. It seemed like a lot of information and I hoped that I got it all when he wished us a good time and sent us on our way.

Once in Coba, I mention the need for gas and Julia points out a Pemex station to our right. We pull into the station only to find that it’s not open. In fact, it’s not even completely finished! The man sleeping in a hammock tied to the posts where the pumps will eventually sit is amusing though.

There’s really not much to Coba except for the Ruins, a few “mini-supers” (convenience stores) and a library. We follow Josh’s map and drive around the lagoon past the Ruins.
Once we’re past the Ruins, there’s supposed to be a fork of some sort. We don’t see it and now we’re confused. “Do you think we went too far?” I ask Julia as I navigate around the holes in the dirt road. “I don’t know. Maybe we’re just supposed to stay on this road longer,” she ponders. We decide that we’re probably overthinking it and once we do, the fork appears with a sign to the Cenotes.

We arrive at the entrance and talk to a man stationed out front to take our money. Thank goodness, Julia speaks Spanish because there have been so many times on this trip where less time is wasted trying to communicate with my broken Spanish and someone’s broken English. With Julia, we can cut to the chase.

There are three Cenotes from which to choose. Everyone talks about the one where there’s a spiral staircase downward into the Cenote and a platform for diving. We motion to the man out front making a spiral with our fingers asking, “Donde es?” He answers in Spanish, we pay 90 pesos, about $8US and drive onward.

The thing that always strikes me about Mexico is the constant adjustment of expectation that I experience almost everyday. Some days, it’s annoying and other days, it’s a reminder that in the States, there’s so much to be taken for granted. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the Cenote experience – just the way I like to roll. Being American, however, things are almost always more simplified than I could ever imagine.

Sure, we could go to Hidden Worlds, a “Cenote Park” 30 minutes north, where it’s more of an attraction than an experience. People pay upwards of $80 to get the full theme park experience. There are restaurants and souvenirs. No expectation adjustment there I suppose.

At “Cenote Dos”, we pull into an unpaved parking lot. There are outdoor showers to our left where people are required to rinse off before entering the Cenote. A man sits on a bench – a long piece of wood atop two large rocks – and collects our tickets. We opt to leave everything in the car except for our towels, but as we’re showering, we decide to go back and get Julia’s camera which we’ll wrap up in our towels while we swim.

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