In December I climbed a Mayan pyramid. It was awesome. I am not Spiderman.
Before Christmas I took a Caribbean cruise with some of my former college classmates where we did some mission-y projects at the ports in between bouts of sea-sickness. The seas were so rough (Stuff broke. Gravity was defied.) that we could only stop at 2 of our 4 ports and only one of those was a project port. The other port, our last, was Cozumel, Mexico.
At Cozumel we had no projects, but were given to various day excursions, some planned by the cruise company, some of our own making, like shopping the boardwalk for expensive junky souvenirs (luchador masks). I took a cruise-planned excursion, a tour of the Coba Maya Ruins, and my life would change forever (not really).
Stopping at the island of Cozumel, all the humans disembarked and went our separate ways for a day of fun landlubbering. No one else from my particular group chose the ruins as their excursion, being more interested in dune buggies and snorkeling. After a 30 minute boat ride to the mainland, we, the pyramid seekers, climbed aboard a mini-bus that traveled an hour through the Mexican countryside to the jungle. Here we found amongst the trees an expansive area of ancient civilization: the ruins.
Occupied as early as 2 millennia ago, Coba grew to be a dominant regional power with as many as 50,000 inhabitants living within an area of 80 square km. Several large temple pyramids were built and, when I was there, I saw a few of those plus courts for Mayan Death Ball (weird Mayan ball game with hoops and where, if I remember right, the winner was killed). The jungle ruins were never really forgotten over the centuries, but weren’t seriously explored by scholars until the 1920s.
Our small tour group walked the vast complex, stopping to listen to our guide give historical context to the ruined awesomeness. Bike-taxis sped by us along the many dirt avenues that cut through the trees. There were fantastic stone carvings and enormous structures to match. We saw an alligator/crocodile (not sure which) and some giant carpenter ants building an Art Deco tree house. The climax of the 2 hour tour came when we arrived at the pyramid. There was a rope going up to the top.
Several of us walked the hundreds of steps on the side of the pyramid. Actually we more or less crawled up, grasping the great rope for support (life support). After several minutes and a minor asthma attack, I reached the summit of the great temple pyramid and gazed around in wonder at the scenic vistas for miles around. It was then I saw the escalator (There was no escalator. Good idea, though.).
Eventually, the time came to descend the giant freak non-Egyptian pyramid and that thick rope became more important than ever because climbing down is just a little crazier than climbing up. Again, I’m not Spiderman. I’m not sure what height the pyramid reaches, but it’s no backyard playhouse. Ultimately, you don’t fall and die, maybe slip just a little for a souvenir bruise, but the bottom is reached and all is well. At least this time.
Driving back to the coast, I thought about the people who lived in Coba thousands of years ago and what their lives might have been like and whether they played pick-up games of Mayan Death Ball where they faked their deaths like video game characters regenerated to play again. Then, I wondered if I could count this pyramid as the pyramid on my Bucket List. I haven’t decided. db
The secret word is landlubbering
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