News | 2010 | View from the Top

At the beginning of the year, I started blogging about a recent trip to Mexico. I still have some more photos I'd like to post, so I'll kick myself in gear and get sharing again. One of the coolest sites we went to was the city of Cobá. Unlike Chichen Itza, Cobá was relatively unknown until recently and hasn't seen much archaeological or restoration work. Aside from the sheer immensity of the site, the smaller crowds, the ball courts, and the lack of curio sellers within the gates, the highlight of Cobá is the Nohoch Mul pyramid--the tallest structure in the northern Yucatan (it's 42m high).

Nohoch Mul
Nohoch Mul looking up

Another really cool thing about Cobá is that here, you're still allowed to climb the structures. Nohoch Mul's steps are uneven and very steep, but climbing to the top gives you a very cool perspective on the site. The temple on top of the pyramid was added during the Post-Classic Period (1100 - 1450 A.D.), and it's in quite good repair. There's another stele in the city with an inscribed date of November 30, 780 A.D., so it seems Cobá was used for quite a while.

Nohoch Mul
Nohoch Mul looking down

From the top of Nohoch Mul, the view is spectacular. Looking down shows you how high you really are (when the trees which have been protecting you from the sun now look like toys). The surrounding forest looks like a flat green carpet in every direction, and you can see the top of another pyramid--Xaibe--poking through the canopy in the distance.

Nohoch Mul
Nohoch Mul looking toward Xaibe

Because Cobá is so spread out (there are several kilometres between structural groups), we rented bicycles to get around. Riding with speed through the forest helps cool you down, is rather fun (we raced each other), and allowed us to see more of the city than we would have if we'd walked.

Nohoch Mul
Xaibe

We saw Xaibe (also known as the Crossroads Pyramid) from the top of Nohoch Mul, so it was cool to see it again up close. This pyramid sits at the interesection of three sacboeb (or stone causeways) and seems to be unique in that its sides are round. However, who knows for sure? Most of the city hasn't been excavated and no one has found any ancient images of the city.

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