This morning, our SHSU study abroad group got an early start. After a wonderful breakfast at the Marriott, we carried our luggage out to the Volkswagen bus and our driver performed an act of magic to fit everything into the cargo hold.
We then drove down the coast to Tulum, a walled Maya city that served as a Caribbean port for the regional trading center, Coba, between the 12th and 16th centuries. By the time we arrived at Tulum, the sun was high in the sky and it was incredibly hot. We saw lemurs, iguanas, and one monkey as we made our way into the archeological area. The site offered many fascinating structures. My favorite was the Temple of the Paint, which featured a stela in honor of Ix Chel, the goddess of fertility. Dr. Heath told the group that women who wished to become pregnant in Maya times would make pilgrimages to Cozumel to make offerings and seek the interposition of Ix Chel. We then made our way by the principal pyramid and down to the water for a much-needed swim.
Photos of the day's events are posted here.
After a long, hot walk back to the car, we rode to Coba, a classic-era Maya site that served as the nexus of the largest network of stone causeways (called sacbes) in the Mayan world. We saw two amazing (but small) ball courts, the second of which featured a stone skull marking the center of the court. We also saw a half dozen stelae (that document important people and events) and many amazing buildings. The last building we climbed, Ixmoja, is the tallest Maya pyramid in the Yucatan at 42 meters tall.
Following our visit to Coba, we travelled to Valladolid, a modern town of 45,000 with a beautiful downtown plaza, the Cathedral of "San Servacio o Gervasio," and our hotel, the Hotel Mesón del Marqués. Dr. Heath took us for a Yucatan delicacy, pulled pork tortas, which were excellent. We then returned to the hotel for dessert and bed. Day two proved to be intense.