tulum & coba, mexico

On our first full day in Mexico, we went on a ruins tour of Tulum & Coba.  We went to Tulum first, and our guide gave us a lot of good information & history before letting us wander freely.  We learned a few things about the Mayans:

Jaguars were important to them and in order to become a warrior they had to kill their own & then they wore the skins.  They also would shave their teeth to points to look like jaguars teeth. 

Their average height was 4’5″

They had two calendars: a solar one and a lunar one

They could read/write & ate with gold/silver utensils

Women were equal to men

I need to look this up because on our other tour, we were told different days…but in Tulum we were told that July was a special month…it was good to be born in this month, but especially if born between July 20th-24th.  If you were born on any of those days you were automatically selected to be sacrificed when you came of age (12-13).  Those people were given all the best in life, because it was an honor to be sacrificed.  Sacrifices happened 4 times a year (season changes) & whenever else needed to feed the gods.  The high priest was the only one who could communicate with them so during the sacrifices he would represent them to the people.  On those days the people would party for 12 hours drinking fermented corn, eating mushrooms, and smoking.  The sacrifice would have their heart cut out & the priest would pretend to eat it/drink the blood and it is possible that they would also skin the person and wear it to absorb their energy.

They had one day of the year that was blessed, when they could get married.  If after 6 months the women didn’t show the signs of pregnancy they were sent to the island of Cozumel where the fertility goddess lived.  They would spend 28 days praying/fasting before going back to the mainland.

When the Spanish first came 500 years ago they stopped at Cozumel & named the island “Women’s Island”…and the first generation of Mayan/Spanish was conceived.  In future expeditions they went back looking for the island full of women but never found it again.  The beach at Tulum is where the Spanish landed on the mainland.  The Spanish turned the Mayan temple of sacrifice into a catholic church.  They watched the catholic priest drink/eat the body & blood of Christ on the same alter that their own priests had used to eat/drink the blood of sacrifices to their own gods.

A funny thing that our guide brought up was the movie “2012”…which is about how the Mayans predicted the end of the world…and which was a highly believed prophecy at that time.  He said that the actual Mayan people were the last to hear that.  There are millions of people in the world that still speak Mayan & their culture is still alive.

The temple of sacrifice is the tall one on the right.  You can see a tiny square window to the left of the stairs…this helped signal season changes/sun movement.

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These guys must’ve all gone khaki shorts shopping together.  The iguana wandered into the middle of our tour group and proceeded to poop while we all watched him.

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The beach where the Spanish landed.

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When we were waiting for people to show up at the bus area, there was a man carrying an iguana to take pictures with and also a woman holding a baby jaguar doing the same.  I paid about $20 USD to hold the jaguar.

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After we left Tulum, we stopped at a beach for an hour before heading to Coba.

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Then at Coba we had a buffet lunch before going into the site.  We rented bikes and followed our guide to the first stop which was the sports arena.

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The Mayans played a basketball-like game where they had to get a ball through the stone circle at the top of each side.  At Coba the teams were only 2 people each since it was small.  They were not allowed to use their head, hands, or feet to hit the ball…they had to use their bodies.  The first team to get the ball through, won the game.  And their prize?  It was the ultimate prize…eternal life…they won the right to be sacrificed, right then and there.  They were beheaded on a stone in the center of the arena.

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The next/final stop was the pyramid.  It faces the setting sun and rises above the forest canopy.

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I didn’t use the rope to climb up or down and my thoughts on the way down were “I wonder how many people have slipped and died here?”…because I wouldn’t be surprised.

Once we returned our bikes I wandered around by myself for awhile and found another pyramid and sports complex with no people.  It felt like I was really exploring the jungle, I wish I had had more time to go further.

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