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Coba, Tulum and Cenotes
We did not haggle over the price of accommodation – we could not care less. The room surprised us – windows with net curtains, nice blankets on beds, fan-folded towels, toilet paper and seat cover decorated with bows... quite unexpected! Unfortunately, Igor climbed Coba’s Pyramids alone. The fact that I would face the highest pyramid in Yucatan (42 metres), did not energize me. I do not know if I was stressed out or tired from all that climbing at Chichen Itza, but I had jelly legs. When Igor climbed down we continued our excursion. During a walk we admired orchids growing on trees. For the first time I saw my favourite flowers in their natural habitat.

We decided to get up at dawn every day. That was our answer to local weather. Because at 10 am the heat was already unbearable, we had to cover as much distance as possible by that time, and spend the middle of the day resting under some tree. The road from Coba to Tulum was rather good as there was some wayside shrubbery to relax under. Unfortunately, a rather strong wind blowing straight into our faces prevented us from cycling faster than 10 km/h. We made a few stops to explore Cenotes. Having reached Tulum, we searched it thoroughly for cheap accommodation. We also had a meal at a small restaurant as we did not know where and when we would end up that night. Watching the traffic, we were staggered by "no-holds-barred" driving: signalling a left turn and turning right instead or parking in the middle of a street. We also noticed a saloon taxi shared by 7 passengers!

Finally, we ended up in a diver-friendly hotel. That was not the cheapest place in town (USD 40 for a room), but we had no choice. Besides, we had chafed butts, hand blisters and were craving for a little luxury after the previous night;-) Tulum is mostly renowned for Mayan ruins located at the top of a steep cliff, overlooking a white beach and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. It is perhaps the most picturesquely situated Mayan site in all Mexico. In its glory days, Tulum was known as Zama – City of Dawn, serving as a port and a fortress. When we were still in Poland, Igor intended to visit only one Mayan site saying: "Ruins are just ruins. They are all similar so we will visit just one and that is it. I do not go there for a sightseeing tour". After the visit in Tulum he changed his opinion. Each Mayan site was different: Chichen Itza was the most famous and best preserved, Coba had uneven stairs and pyramids in the jungle, while in Tulum the ruins were situated directly above the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Next day, having packed diving masks and flippers, we took a 3 kilometre taxi ride to Grand Cenote to enjoy a swim. Cenote is a sinkhole decorated by various cave formations, filled with crystal clear water (its visibility reaching 200 metres!!!). The water is also quite warm (26 degrees Centigrade), with numerous small fish. Cenotes are omnipresent in Yucatan. The admission fee was about USD 5, but it was a small price for all the fun. No pictures, video clips or stories could convey the feeling of visiting these underwater caves, not to mention swimming or diving in their crystal clear waters!

Back in Tulum, we decided to send postcards to family and friends. Unfortunately, after a half an hour search of a post office, we were told that they "had just ran out of airmail stamps"! Just great! On the way to our room we bought beer and fresh fruit. We chose to sit outside and write postcards, hoping that we could purchase stamps somewhere farther down the road. Until that evening, I had never eaten such a succulent pineapple – the juice was dripping down my hands as I was peeling it. The fruit was extremely juicy and aromatic – just pineapple! I will remember its taste for the rest of my life. We covered the next section to Bacalar by bus. During the ride, there was not much going on. We did not have much time and we wanted to see as much as possible. We travelled second class, as that was the only option available. The seats were not numbered so for the first hour, we stood between sitting passengers and their luggage. On the way, we experienced an inspection carried out by military officers, which is not uncommon in Mexico. They were looking for smugglers but did not even check our passports.

In Bacalar, we visited the fortress with a beautiful view over the lagoon. We went to a local beach for a swim. Many people could not suppress their laughter at the sight of our pale complexion;-) After lunch in a Chinese restaurant we looked for accommodation. We left all the luggage and went to see another Cenote called Azul. It did not impress me much – it looked like an ordinary lake, only with a rocky cliff. Igor informed me that it was "barely" 90 metres deep! Again, my imagination started working full-time. Getting into the water, I was usually able to see its bed. After a brief "meditation" and getting my heartbeat under control, I jumped into the water. A bath at air temperature of 40 degrees Centigrade, with water visibility reaching over a dozen metres, is an indescribable pleasure. I can do nothing but recommend it.