Day 7: Coba Cenotes - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 6, 2023

Day 7: Coba Cenotes

Grampies in the Hole

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Sue Price commented yesterday on how the breakfast place in Tulum semi-secretly tacked on a tip in addition to the tax, bringing the total cost to quite a bit more than the already high price shown on the menu board out front. That really rots our socks! Looking at the register tape, we see that it says that they tacked on the proposed tip, but that payment of this is not compulsory. So slippery! Probably illegal in Canada. It reminds me of a video by the young couple posting as Tangerine Travels (the colour of their car): "Scammed in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico".  More than outright scams, we have noticed the very high prices at hotels and restaurants along the Riviera strip. It's just familiar capitalism, of course. Still, the same or better breakfast this morning in Coba was half what we paid in Tulum, and our wonderful room here is 1/3 of what we paid for a smaller room in Tulum.

Ah yes, breakfast. Once again I went for the pancakes, while wise Dodie chose the fruit. Both dishes were really fine:

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Freddie, who has been our host and waiter at the Lol-Ha is quite interested in our bikes, though he may not be a potential cycle tourist. Bikes like these must be pretty rare in Mexico.

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Coba is a small and quiet town, and a real pleasure to cruise through. It has a good number of restaurants, on the way to the Lake and the Ruins, plus various souvenir shops. Still it is not overrun with tourism.

Main street, Coba.
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Typical craft shop.
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The Lake
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The archeological site is not at all glitzy, but the buildings inside are impressive.
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Opposite the lake, the jungle looks very jungly.
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We know this to be crocodile territory!
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Leaving Coba town we passed one church. Churches are not really a big thing in Yucatan, though the Spanish did leave some hulking church buildings. We have the impression that the local people can either take religion - anyone's religion - or leave it. They do enjoy Christmas decorations, though.

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The road to the cenotes is an example of just what we come here for. Paved and quiet, and today, not even blisteringly hot. The photo below is taken from the middle of the road, because there was no traffic to push me over. Beyond the  cenotes area there will not even be an occasional tour bus, it would be just us and the jungle. This time, though, we too are not going beyond the cenotes.

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It's hard to see in the photo, but this is a roadside garden plot, with the traditional scheme of interplanting corn, beans, and squash, the so called three sisters.
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Dodie is good at spotting things that are up high. This time she pointed out what I think we have decided is a termite nest.
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Keith KleinHi,
Maybe hornets or wasps rather than termites, which tend to be more terrestrial than arboreal?
The food looks fabulous.
Cheers,
Keith
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesI found an Australian site that talks about these termites:
Termites which build these arboreal nests are called Nasutitermes walkeri and Microcerotermes sp. The arboreal nest is generally connected to another part of the colony in the root crown of the tree. Shelter tubes are characteristic of this species and are often found on the outside of the tree trunk.
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3 weeks ago
Roadside colour - more at my observation level.
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The three cenotes are within 2 km of each other. Each has a very unique character. Their names describe them a bit: "Ha" means water in Mayan.  Multun-Ha means rocky water, Tankach-Ha is deep water, and Choo-Ha is dripping water.

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At Tulum the cenote was a very costly 500 pesos each.  There, a life vest was compulsory, but at least it was included. At Coba, each cenote is 100 pesos, and life vests are optional. A life vest rental, though, is 50 pesos - fully half the admission price. For 50pesos times three, times two of us, we decided to drown!

Life vest, anyone?
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All three cenotes involve descending into deep deep holes in the ground. They make us wonder how they were discovered and then developed. Each hole ends in essentially a large cave. Only in one case there a shaft (for ventilation?) bringing  a little light from directly above. Otherwise without artificial light it would be absolutely black. 

Beyond this, each cenote is unique. We went to Multun-Ha first. Although the name emphasizes rocks, the main feature - for me anyway - was the depth.  The water in the darn thing is 100 feet deep. And because that water is absolutely crystal clear, when you look down from the edge you are apparently looking over a cliff. There was absolutely no one else there, meaning that there was not a ripple in the water.  For me, with a fear of heights, it triggered a panic attack.  I started to hyper ventilate. After a bit my breathing slowed down, and I did go into the water. But I couldn't swim, because I couldn't catch my breath. Dodie tried to calm me down and get me to breath slowly, but without much success. Well, at least Dodie got to be in for a bit. For my part it was still invigorating, because my racing heart got a workout.

All the cenotes involve a hole in the ground like this.
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Dodie goes in the hole.
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Looking down 100 feet from the water surface.
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Harold MillerHey Steve, Did not know you were subject to panic attacks due to height, even after our 74 years together. We get it, though, since we saw a video last week of a guide crossing a suspension bridge in Switzerland. Francine and I both blurted "not for me" simultaneously.

Side issue: I had to redirect e-mail to gmail since Shaw was being kicked back for the last 2 days. Harold
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3 weeks ago
Patrick O'HaraWow! That's an impressive shot! The clarity of the water is almost eerie!
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3 weeks ago
It's 18 meters to the surface of the water and a further 30 meters to the rocks on the bottom.
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We left Multun-Ha in time for the arrival of a tour bus. We call these grasshoppers because of how they look.
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Jacquie GaudetGrasshopper is absolutely it for a green bus. I've always thought of these as "bug buses" because of the antenna-like mirrors.
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The next two cenotes are close together, but each is unique.
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We next chose Taccanch-Ha, named for deep water. This may be so, but it contains another feature sure to put Steve off - jumping platforms at 5 and and 10 meters above the water as you descend the hole. 

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Into the hole again.
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Leap of faith, Steve?
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The target
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Dodie at the base of the tower to the surface.
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A jumper hits the water.
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At this cenote, it was Dodie that ran into some kind of difficulty. Again, this was due to missing steps on the ladder leading in and out. She could have gotten in, by sitting at the edge and flopping in, but we did a lot of testing and speculating, and decided she would never get out. The problem is in the amount of knee flex needed, and then the force required to use that knee to go up and out. I tested it and did not think Dodie would do it.

Flex that knee!
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Up and out - piece of cake unless your knees are made of metal.
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It was clear to us from brochures that the final cenote was going to be more our speed. They styled it as being good for non-swimmers and children! Well, it still involved a steep descent into the bowels of the earth.

Down, down
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Sign says don't slip - thanks for the tip!
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At the beach. Really easy and nice!
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Looking back up at the descent.
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Yes, good for kids too.
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Passing back now by the lake, Dodie spotted this red bird. Ideas?
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Bill ShaneyfeltJacana

https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/950091
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonYup. Jacanas are a great bird, with great feet. Here’s a photo from Tucson, where we were lucky enough to see him two years ago well north of their normal range: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/winterlude2020/the-wayward-wind/#23031_c49ouevui5zy3i0of1vysl0owni
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3 weeks ago

Scott Anderson says he will create an album of the birds they have spotted. We could be copycats on that. So we grabbed this Grackle just in case.

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Scott AndersonGreat-tailed grackle, to be precise. That’s one! I’m sorry to say though that I’ll have to charge a per bird fee for stealing my idea.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonWhat's yòur price?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI was thinking a Full English Breakfast/every ten birds. Minus the black pudding, minus the beans.
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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Scott AndersonHow about the Marmite?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith KleinThanks for asking about that. You can hold the marmite too. Be careful though - it’s sticky.
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3 weeks ago

Cycling back to the hotel, we were cool from the cenotes, and the air temperature had moderated too. With the empty and smooth road, this was a real cycling pleasure.

Back at the hotel, the cooled down Dodie was ready to go find supper. But our hotel restaurant was mysteriously closed. Ok, we strolled down to the next one, which honestly looked just the same.  And this time it was Dodie that sampled the Poc Chuc, while I chose chicken fajitas. With the various cooked and fresh vegetable components, both dishes were flavourful and healthful. Again it had us saying, "This is what we came here for".

Coba restaurant #2
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Poc Chuc #2 plus fajitas.
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Today's ride: 20 km (12 miles)
Total: 207 km (129 miles)

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Marvin PaxmanYou are making us feel like we need to go to Yucatan. So glad you are having such lovely days, having left the touristic area behind
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3 weeks ago
Sue PriceSo glad you went to all three cenotes! So much fun and so beautiful!
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3 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauI know it's not pronounced the same, but whenever I see the word "cenote," all I can think of is when I took piano lessons from 4th through 6th grade. The mid C-note was the basis for every song I learned. (Just thought I'd throw this irrelevant comment out there.)
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3 weeks ago