A New Year's Day to remember - We'll Follow the Sun - CycleBlaze

January 1, 2019

A New Year's Day to remember

Yesterday afternoon as we returned to our hotel, we passed by a couple who asked us about our bike travels.  They turned out to be a couple from Colorado, Fred and Nancy, and they were staying at the hotel overnight but are on their way to Guatemala!  They travel a lot and try to use local transit whenever possible.  It turns out that they have an education project in Guatemala that they have been involved in creating and sustaining for 12 years.  Every year they go and spend about 3 months there making sure that things are running well and setting up new schools.  They put schools in very rural or semi rural areas and the teachers are young women with high school diplomas who they train to be teachers to primary students.  In this way they are helping to raise the level of education for children who would not otherwise have the opportunity.  We had a much longer conversation with them later in the day and if you are at all curious about the project, you can go to Global Giving.org, look for education projects in Guatemala.  Their organization is called letsbeready.org.  The stories are fascinating to read.  I was particularly touched by one about students (these student's first language is Mayan) learning about an important Mayan day on the calendar, what the symbols meant for it, etc. and then they had some mamas come in and prepare a meal, teaching the students about the importance of the food and how they cooked it.  I was so impressed by these little Grade 1 students learning how important their own culture is and seeing what an important role their mothers play.  Amazing!  I hope that one day we can go there ourselves - another item for the bucket list!

In the afternoon  we walked over to El Cocodrilo for our early dinner and it was a total winner.  We loved the staff there and enjoyed the ambiance so much we bought a table cloth to remember it by!  We brought back some salsa and guacamole to have later in the evening while everyone would be out partying.  The plan had been to catch some football but nothing was on so we sat on the nice deck outside our room and enjoyed a few beverages with our chips and salsa.  Thus we whiled away the last hours of 2018, enjoying the warm evening air here in Coba.  By 10:00 we were in bed, anticipating an early day and hoping that the midnight celebrations wouldn't be too loud, which they were not, thankfully.

Hmmm...seems like this guy was out celebrating just a tad early!
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Chickens just hanging out on the side of the road
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Had to wear my new dress!
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A great place to eat in Coba! El Cocodrilo
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We were up and out the door by 7:45, walking the short distance to the entrance to the Coba ruins.  There was only one car in the parking lot, a family of 4 who came in right after us.  Inside the entrance you can rent bikes to ride around the ruins, but we didn't feel the need to pay for other bikes so enjoyed a wonderful, quiet walk through the morning jungle on our way to the pyramid.  The family who came in behind us did rent bikes and so passed us - oh well, we wouldn't be the very first of 2019 on the pyramid, darn!  

Now that's a nice New Year's Day walk! Worth getting up early to avoid the crowds that showed up later!
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Eventually we reached the pyramid, which is supposed to be the highest pyramid in the yucatan.  It is the only one that we have seen that you can still climb up. It's 42 meters high (137 feet) and 120 steps - yikes!  It looked pretty daunting when we arrived and the family we had been behind were almost all of the way up.  We began the climb.  My strategy was to count up 12 steps and take a quick breather and also not to look down.  This actually worked very well and soon enough we were at the top!  It was pretty amazing and we were pumped.  The family ahead of us were taking pics, so of course we took some for them and they for us.  We got to chatting and they are from Santa Cruz, California.  Talk turned to travelling with grown children, and their girls' future hopes.  The eldest plays volleyball, so we also chatted about the challenges of that as our oldest grandchild, Hanna, plays for her high school and on rep teams in Nanaimo.  It was pretty funny having this long conversation with a very nice family at the top of this beautiful pyramid!  Eventually other people began to arrive and the family left.  We finished taking pics and, taking a big breath, we headed down too.  Well, to be honest, I had to take the big breath and calm myself - Jim was just fine!  I have a very big fear of heights, so you can imagine the fluttering going on in my tummy as I faced my fears and started down.  On the way up I didn't bother with the rope, but going down I kind of had a death grip on it.  I didn't really need it for balance, but it gave me a sense of safety somehow to have a hand on it.  Eventually we both got down and congratulated ourselves on making the climb.

One, two, three, four....
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Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two.... honey! You are messing up my counting!
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Almost at the tippy top!
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And we made it! Happy New Year!
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Now I have to go back down?
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No hanging onto the rope for this guy!
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We then wandered off through the jungle to visit the other sites here.  It is not as extensive as Chichen Itza, nor as easy to navigate as Uxmal and Palenque, but it was kind of nice wandering through the jungle like that, stopping to look at the trees and interesting artifacts.

Looked like a turkey to us, but the colours?
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Bill ShaneyfeltYou are correct! It is an ocellated turkey... Learning something every day. Someday maybe I can identify stuff on sight... if only I could remember what I have looked up!


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocellated_turkey
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2 weeks ago
Sue PriceTo Bill ShaneyfeltWell how cool is that? Thanks, Bill!
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonWe’ll, rats - Bill beat me to one I knew for a change. They must like pyramids. The only place I’ve ever seen them was in Tikal, wandering by the dozen around the base of those amazing ruins.
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2 weeks ago
Annie! It's your favourite birds again! They are everywhere!
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Weird pic but I'm trying to show the width of the passage
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This skull figure was in the ball court - penalty box?
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That big rectangle had a lot of glyphs - recording the best of?
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And then there were figures like this - maybe the Mayan Ball Ring of Honour? Did you know that the winner was the one who got his head cut off?
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Not sure I'd want to win this game!
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It's hard to capture the details in pictures, but the carving on these stones was pretty impressive
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Look at this amazing tangle of trees!
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Now THATS a big palm!
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We finished our tour of Coba and walked back to our room, satisfied with the outing and with our time here.  We were pretty tired after getting up so early and all the climbing, so had a snooze before setting out in the afternoon for another early dinner.  We wanted to try a different restaurant, one that had another nice view of the lagoon.  When we got there, there were more waiters than customers!  We sat out on the deck, which really was lovely, but it was a little off-putting as the waiters were all hanging around where we and the only other customers were seated.  It felt like they were watching us eat - weird!  The food was ok, but honestly, if you come to Coba, do yourself a favour and eat at La Cocodrilo!  We paid for our meal and went for a short walk along the lagoon and on our way back, saw that the restaurant was quickly closing up for the day.  We had asked earlier how late they would be open, but I guess business was so slow they just decided that was enough!  It was very quiet in town today, so I can see why.

Not sure it would be safe to get out to that boat
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Wandering back to our room, we are in the process of packing up once again and getting ready to move on in the morning down to Tulum, a very short 40 km away.  Oh yes, of course, there is one more football game on at the moment, but I am busy writing and so am NOT paying attention to the score (my team is down 14 to 3 - grrrrr!).  Hopefully we will manage to get to be early as we will again set the alarm for an early getaway.  Much more sensible to ride in the lovely early morning air than later in the heat of the day!

PS. My team lost, but at least they came back in the fourth quarter and made it respectable (when I'd stopped watching, of course).

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