Coba and the wedding reception: Dec 18
Coba was a dirty, one road-town with a few shops with junky stuff in them. I spotted the first hotel on my way down the road. It turned out to also be where the bus stopped to pick up passengers to go to Tulum. It had a café with passable food. I inquired about a room, as Coba was one of the places I didn't have a booking for. No wonder, there wasn't any connection to the outside world. The hotel man told me 12.00. I hemmed and hawed and before I could answer he said 10.00. Well, ok, the bed could have been jumping with fleas, but he said he would have the room cleaned and the bedding changed. I looked at the shower, egad, crustier than Tulum and that would make my third day without a shower. No water, but they would bring me some in a bucket. I guess I would tough it out. I could have gone down the street further and rented a room for a hundred dollars at one of the club med type hotels, but I was not into that kind of room allowance on my budget. The hotel man spoke sparse English but managed to convey to me there was going to be a wedding reception that evening, but it would only last until 10 p.m. While I was having a bite to eat the sound crew came with lots of equipment to set up for the wedding reception. They had racks of lights and half dozen speakers bigger than I've seen on concert show stages. I left them to set up their gear and walked back behind my room where I had see some chickens in a cage. I went out there and found about 15 of them in a cage built for two. They didn't have any water. I looked around for some water and found about 25 5-gallon buckets full of water sitting by the clothes-washing shack. I dipped some water out and filled their pan. I felt so bad for their condition, because as soon as the water hit the pan there were 15 beaks in it. Later when I checked on them again, I found someone had fed them a pan of tortillas soaked in some sort of broth. They had left the door to the cage open and as each chicken finished eating she would wiggle out of the open door and head for the bare branch tree above it to settle down for the night. Ok, girls, I thought, you're O.K. I went around to the front again just in time to watch the wedding party go to the church across the street. I could see the church was a newly built mortared building, but without any glass in the windows. Soon the whole parking lot was filled with wedding party guests. Man, where did all these people come from? They were dressed to the hilt with suits and fancy dresses. After the wedding the guests started to fill up the café and I went to my room so I wouldn't intrude with their party. I lay down thinking it would be only 3 hours before 10 p.m. when the hotel man said the party would be over. Yeah, right. I lay there trying to endure the wedding reception music as only a brick wall separated the music away from my room. They must have stacked all the speakers up against it as I thought the bricks would lose their mortar at any moment. Naturally I wasn't able to sleep, so about 1 a.m. I got up and went to see what the party was doing. The place only had about six people in it. Strobe lights were flashing all over the room. The bride was dancing with her maid of honor. There were a couple of other ladies dancing with each other. At a break the bride came over and found the groom on the sidelines. She gave him some packages and he left and never returned. I sat down and watched. In about 15 minutes the dancing dwindled down to the point the band decided the party was over and stopped playing. Of course the sound had been deafening. I thought it was loud in my room, but it was ear piercing in the café. The silence was overwhelmingly welcome. The wedding party, minus the groom, gathered their things together and started to leave. As I was sitting right by the exit I stood up when the bride came by and wished her good luck and happiness. She gave me a hug. I didn't tell her I was just glad to have the music stop. When I was sure the band was starting to pack up and leave I went back to bed to get some rest. In the morning I felt like I had been pulled through another knothole. (Boy, this whole country is full of knotholes). When I pulled into the parking lot of the Coba site, which was about a mile from the hotel I found it had several vendor shops and another little café. I had a really nice omelet for breakfast. It was good and I felt like I could make it through the day. I bought my ticket and went through the gate. There were a number of men who wanted to know if I wanted a guide. There were also a number of bicycle taxis that were for hire. I didn't use either. The trails were long between the different sections but the shade of the trees was refreshing and it was pleasant to walk. I found the main temple with the ball court on the side of it. I walked on back to the Macanxoc group of temples and residences. There were many stelas, but were very hard to make out. This was a place for the royal ladies from Tikal. The place had a very feminine feel to it, like I could detect their presence. I walked on back down the trail and turned at the fork in the road to go to the temple of the pictures. There was a building in front of the ball court that looked just like a depot house at the end of a sacbe road. 'Welcome to Coba', it seemed to say. It sure seems like some of the buildings could be lodging houses for the visitors that came to Coba for ceremonial reasons or the ball games. I made my way further down the path and found the Nohoch Mul or the big mound or house. The tallest pyramid in the Yucatan. I climbed to the top and stood admiring the view. There was a huge plumb of smoke coming from the trees somewhere on the other side of the site. After I climbed down and was walking back to the entrance I could hear crackling that sounding like bicycle tires on the gravel, but there were no bicycles there. I remembered the smoke and took the path to the lagoon I had walked earlier. When I reached the edge of the lagoon I could see the underbrush on the other side of the lagoon was on fire. It was burning almost the whole length of the shoreline. When I reached the guides that were sitting by the entrance and managed to convey to them that the lagoon shore was burning, a couple of them came and looked, but the rest of them apparently didn't care as they never got up to see. Apparently it wasn't any big deal. I left the site and looked at a couple of the vendor shops at the entrance. They didn't have anything interesting, so I went further past the parking lot on the road out and found an artist making Batik cloth. His work was nice, but I didn't see any design I wanted to live with. Next door to him was a silver shop. Now, that was interesting. Even though the shop owner said he made the jewelry there I could see no sign of a workshop. He had some really nice things. I bought a bracelet and two pair of earrings and a T-Shirt for 140.00. I was thrilled. They matched my necklace I purchased in Taxco, Mexico two years earlier.
After spending time shopping, it was time to drive to my next destination, which was Genesis Retreat in Ek Balam. The road was good and I had no problem making it there before dark. More later. Gay