Day 3 - Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Preseve, Coba, and Tulum

Date: 2007-11-11
Location: Cancun 07

Bright early in the morning, around 7:50, our Mayasitetravel driver Ricardo Osorio and our guide Ricardo Vasquez arrived outside our condo. We packed our stuff and got into the Mercedes van. The van was roomy and comfy, with just right amount of air conditioning. We sat down. Ricardo Vasquez started to introduce himself and the wonderful history of the Cancun. He was both knowledgeable and with an extreme friendly and casual manner that we all liked him immediately.

He briefed us about the kingdom of Mayan that extended to all five current countries—Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Then about the pre-Columbian Mayan world, the fascinating culture and the belief of the people. We couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Mayan people, who were exploited by their kings and loyalties; even they overthrew their oppressors, there comes the Spaniards that killed a lot of them and turn the rest of them into slaves.

It was about a hours later, we arrived the Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Preserve area. At the entrance, our guide hired another local person, who guided us into the mist of the dense jungle. Three local dogs followed us into the jungle. The mutts were lean and well adopted to the forest. They picked up some food along the way and they drank from the water puddles on rocks. The path was lined with rocks and was slippery under morning dew. It wasn’t long before we received the first bite from the hungry infestation of mosquitoes. We paused and sprayed each other with bug repellent. We continued our walk. Before long, we came across a deep hole on a large rock. Upon close inspection, the hole was adored with a rope ladder. It seems that people actually use it to lower themselves inside. Ricardo explained to us it is one of the centoes around the country. It was about 16 meters to the surface of the water and another 20 meters down. He said that the archeologists discovered there were over 180 skeletons in the water. By looking at a local shrine next to it, we could only guess some of the victims might had been scarified while others were die from fallen into the cenotes by accident.

We continued our walk for another few feet then my little boy pointed out there were monkeys on top of the tree. We went around the tree and started to take picture. Ricardo told us they were Howler Monkeys. One of them even dropped a large chew-gun fruit and a splash of glow like milky substance fallen splashed on the side of my face and my camera. It took me a while to clean it off.

The monkeys were black from head to tail. Since they were quietly enjoying their breakfast, none of them exhibited their famous howling. We walked around, found many interesting plants ranging from the type of plant that can cause rush if you touch it, plant that can cure tooth pain when you put it on your cheek, plant that can cures nearly all illness, to the plant that is poisonous… I even got bitten by the large red ants that caused excruciating pain. If weren’t the biter eraser, I would probably suffered more pain. To our disappointment, we didn’t even see one spider monkey. After we arrived the body of lake that was hidden inside the tense jungle, our guide decided it was time for us to go to our next stop.

Our next stop was Coba, an old and large site that contains the second highest pyramid. To speed up the process, once we see the first temple, Ricardo rented three bicycles and hired two people to paddle the tricycles. Ricardo, Marc and Jim each rode a bicycle. My mom, myself and my little one rode one tricycle while my dad, my sister and Liam on the other tricycle. We rode for a while then stop and looked around for a while, then got back in and rode more. At each pint, we looked at some of the rocks monuments that depicted the king that ruled at the time. Finally we arrived the large temple. The tall white pyramid stood on top of a small incline. The structure was in need of restoration, and some of the parts were in different levels of deteriorations. The rocks were pilled haphazardly in some of the areas. Many brave people were climbing the stairs that led to the top temples. Our guide informed us the best way to climb it is to go zig-zag toward the top. My husband, my father, my five year old, and myself pushed ourselves toward the top of the mount. The task was much harder than it first appeared visually. The stairs were steep, each level had a small surface area, and the steps were unevenly proportioned. It got harder as one climbed higher. Some people hold on to the large rope that lined the center of the path. I started by lowered myself and went on my hands. It seemed helped a lot. With some climbing, we finally arrived the top.

The view was beautiful. It seems that we were floating in a vast green ocean where the canopies of trees angulated in the endless waveform underneath of us. In far distance, a few tips of some temples broke through the canopies and shone under the sun. There was no doubt when the kings and priests mounted the top of these pyramids, they had a feeling of god-like. What a sense of awe it must bring to the people both on top and around the pyramid!

Once we came down from there, we were both tired and hungry. Been so tense the whole time coming down, my legs were a bit of wobbly. We return to our tricycles and were glad that the driver rode the tricycle effortlessly through the woods.

Once returned to our van, our driver took us to the local restaurant in Tulum. Since Tulum is a seaport, the city was more like a fishing village. Many local restaurant serve freshly caught fish. We stopped by a seafood restaurant favorite by both the locals and tourists. Once we got our drink, besides regular chips and dip were served, two strange salad bowls were also presented. Each bowl contains pickled carrots, onions, garlic, and various peppers such as habenerno, jalapeños, and serranos. We picked on them and found them quite tasteful.

The fish plate was both succulent and nicely seasoned. The white juicy meat melted inside my mouth with a savory taste. The fish plate that cost me 180 pesos the day before was only 80 pesos. The portion was much bigger and fish was just so fresh and nicely cooked I believe it was way worth the money. I even order a fried banana as desert. It was simply delicious.

Once we had enough food, we stepped outside. Ricardo showed me this jewel stores that sales genuine stuff. The jewels were beautiful. I couldn’t help but to get myself a silver jewel decorated with opal and smoky quartz pendant.

Once in the car, we headed toward Tulum. We got there as afternoon sun became a bit tiled in the blue sky. The rock fortress stood on top of a rocky cliff that overlooks the blue green ocean. Here the structures were more nicely restored. A lot of original sculptures and painting can still be seen. Of course, sun-bathed in the late afternoon sun were many large iguanas. Their large horned bodies were lazily displayed on top of rocks.
One tourist came to our guide and asked if it is true that the Tulum was the only place that doesn’t have a ball court. Ricardo agreed. She then asked if he knows why; I couldn’t help but interjected that it was probably due to the windy condition Tulum constantly have to face. Of course, it was just my observation and explanation.

We shopped around the area a little before we returned to our lodge. The little ones, of course, jumped into the pool immediately. We walked along the beach and witnessed the beautiful sunset. Along the beach, we found countless fossil-rich lime stones scattered everywhere with corals that had been washed ashore recently. A lot of them were various type of corals, some shells both large and small, and earlier sea creatures that inhabited the earlier earth. I even found one of the strange heart-shaped pod from the beach. It appeared to be from some sea plants and we saw our neighbor used to make some beautiful wind chimes out of them.

What a day! We cooked the frozen pizza and ate in our dinning room. Thanks to Sam’s, we even had grapes and Asian bears to go with it.

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