Mayan Encounter with AllTourNative....(Trip Report)

Discussion in 'Cancun Info' started by NormsKid, May 6, 2004.

  1. NormsKid

    NormsKid Guest

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    For those who are looking for "something different" than the run of the mill tour.

    I found my trip report on disk and here it is: Enjoy!!

    Today is the big day for my first trip to Coba and to an actual Mayan Village. I wake up at 5:30am and keep re-hitting the snooze button until Gerald gets the hint, that it's really time for him to get up....I'm gonna catch a few more winks while HE takes a shower first. (he didn't seem to mind though, he's a easy guy to get along with)

    After a few more winks, I get up and decide to pack our stuff in my backpack so I don't forget anything. (as it turns out, I should have packed an extra change of clothes, but I'll know better next time.)

    We head down to grab a bite to eat for breakfast right at 7am when they open. (gotta be at La Isla Plaza at 7:30am, awk!) So, we snuff up some eggs, ham and juice real quick and I fill the water jug with ice and water and we catch a cab over to the drop off point.

    We were told to meet in front of the interactive aquarium and when we get there, it's a small group of REALLY friendly people. 1/2 the group was from england, 1/2 from the US. We all exchange hello's and chat for a bit. Then the guide collects vouchers from everyone else and me & Gerald paid cash. The brother & sister couple from Atlanta thought their travel agent ripped them off when they heard what me & Gerald paid so I had to explain to her that I booked online and that's how I got a discount.

    So, we all get in the van, and it was quite cramped for the trip. Not much leg room and no empty seats for anyone to stretch out. The tall people sorta rotated sitting in the front seat so we could each get a break. (hint: If you are 5'11" or over, sit in the last row, in the section of the seat where you can stretch your legs all the way out)

    The first stop was 1 hour and 45 minutes down the road. We stopped at a little shop where we had continental breakfast (included), could purchase some suveneers that were cheaper than anyplace else I have seen, and could use the washroom. Extremely clean, modern facilities and no smell in the bathrooms. Plenty of toilet paper, even though I had my own, just in case.

    They also had a nice selection of hammocks for sale, however, I don't know what the prices were for those. I've never shopped for one.

    We all pretty much had slept all the way to this first stop so when we got there, people had a chance to talk and get to know one another and discuss our coming adventure. I think this is where we all sorta bonded as a group because many in the group were afraid of hights, myself included and we would be attempting the unthinkable today.

    We got back in the van and the guide told us that we would be heading to Coba next. The guide made a point to ask everyone their name so that he could address us in a more friendly manner throughout the rest of the trip.

    As we were driving down the road to Coba Mark, from England, and myself were noticing alot of potholes in the road and the guide seemed to be dodging all of them as if they weren't even in the road. I asked the guide jokingly if he had ever hit one of the pot holes before and he said he refers to them as "cenotes" since they are so big and deep. We didn't hit one the entire time we were on the road, or I'm sure someone would have upchucked their breakfast. (if you do this tour, you'll see what I'm talking about)

    Anyway, we finally make it to Coba and the guide points out a spot in the lagoon just outside coba where aligators hang out. We saw about 3 from the Van.

    As we pull into the parking lot I was expecting some tour buses, but there weren't any, just other vans the size of ours, and not that many. (if you do this tour, put your bug spray on at this point or you will get eaten up and not even realize it till it's too late)

    We walked up the main path and over to the sanctuary where we had a seat in the shade. The guide gave us a VERY indepth history of the different Mayan periods and didn't assume that any of us knew ANYTHING. (I totally appreciated that!) We had an oppourtunity to ask as many questions as we could all think of and he limited his replies to very factual answers. He didn't engage in any speculation, storytelling, or hand down stereotypes just to try to be impressive and know everything. He stuck to the known facts!

    After we all had a pretty decent understanding of who the Mayans are and how they have evolved over the years, then we learned some basics about Coba and it's relationship to the other ruins. That was followed by a discussion of the santuary and what the Mayans used it for.

    Then we walked over to the ballcourt and were told how the Mayan's actually played the game and where we could go to see a actual ball that was found and put in a museum.

    This was all the walking that we did. We all went to get bikes at this point to ride to Nahoch Mul, the large structure that you see in pictures of Coba. (If you are over 5'8", your bike will feel like a trycicle to you, they don't have any large ones) But it was totally cool to be able to ride the mountain bikes over. We had a few bikers in the group and we were doing bike tricks & stunts and a bit of racing as well. All the pathways are shaded, so we weren't sweating like pigs.

    When we pulled up to Nahoch Mul, I was absolutely amazed at the structure! I have dabbled with laying concrete, wooden patio's, and all sorts of outdoor projects using modern tools and I couldn't beleive this thing. It was soooo massive and "solidly built."

    This was the first test of the group though. We all wanted to go up and most weren't sure how to best get down, especially those of us who were afraid of heights. This thing is 120 steps all the way to the top! There was a rope in the middle of the steps, but that was the only aid.

    So, Gerald and I decide that I should go up first and at the 1/2 way point, turn around and sit down for a picture. So, off I went. The steps had a bit of fine gravel on them so I knew coming down, I would have to be VERY careful to avoid slipping. I made it to the 1/2 way mark and didn't want to turn around but figured it would be o.k. since I was only suppose to sit for the picture, not stand. No problems thus far, Gerald snapped the picture and then started the climb himself. Within minutes, he had caught up to me so I gave him the water to throw around his neck and take to the top for everyone who made it.

    He blew by me and was at the top in no time flat. I took a bit longer because my knee was starting to hurt a bit from the sprain the day before. Didn't know if I tore a ligament, but didn't wanna find out at Coba either.....so I took my time.

    Finally got to the top and WOW! What an awsome view! There was jungle for miles and a few structures sticking up out of the jungle that we could see. Unfortunately, when you get to the top, there is absolutely nothing to keep you from taking a nasty spill all the way down other than your common sense. After about 10 minutes at the top, the more brave souls started their decent. At this point, I just watched them and the methods that each was using to get down. Some were walking down as if there was nothing to it and not even holding on to the rope. Then the next group held on to the rope with one hand. then the next group was going down backwards. I didn't see any particular method that appealed to me so I was just gonna scoot on my butt until I remembered how steep some of the steps were and realized that I wouldn't be able to do it that way. That's when the panic set in. I just told myself that I couldn't get down and I just sat on the first step. I wasn't gonna move I was absolutely terrified!

    It must have been devine intervention because I thought everyone had already started going down and then the guy from Atlanta came up behind me and just looked me in the eye. I'm sure he could see the terror in my eyes and he asked me if I wanted to say a prayer and that's exactly what we did. We both held hands and said a prayer.

    Then he said he would help me step by step and show me how to get down. So, I followed his directions. I ended up going down by holding on to the rope for balance and stepping down one step at a time backwards. I never turned around,never turned sideways,never looked at anything but the next step that I had to put my foot on. I did that all the way down and my prayer buddy was talking to me the whole time pointing out exactly how deep the next step was and he was using his hand to remove some of the fine gravel so I didn't slip. Had it not been for him, I NEVER would have made it down!

    Finally got to the bottom and said "thank you jesus!"

    Then it was time to hop back on the bike and head back to the front entrance. Then the guide had soda's and water for us all to drink and we had plenty of time to get some suveneers if we wanted to. Gerald & I decided to check out the shop and compare the prices to the first stop and they were a bit higher, but not unreasonable.

    Unfortunately, Gerald had the backpack on and as I was showing him a pipe in the shape of a...male organ, he swung around so fast he knocked a statute off the shelf, it broke and then he had to buy it.

    After the Coba visit, we head over to the community Chimuch to do our adventure activities. (if you book this tour and are staying at a hotel in the zone, you go to the community of Chimuch, if you are staying at the moon palace or further south, you go to the community of Pac Chen)

    The first activity is kayaking, the guide asks if everyone has done it before and knows how to steer and no one says anything. I was hoping Gerald would have said something cause I knew he had never been in a kayak or canoe. But, I guess that male ego took over and he didn't say a word. The guide said for the heavyest person to get in the back and I thought, ok, that will work and Gerald won't have to steer since I weigh more than he does. But, when I went to get in the back, the guide, who was male, suggested that Gerald get in the back anyway. (I didn't wanna argue over the matter even though I knew Gerald couldn't steer so I let him decide where he wanted to sit) He chose the back and found out real quick that he didn't know what the heck he was doing, couldn't steer, and had made the wrong choice. So, I decided to let him do all the work and didn't paddle in the narrow section.LOL!!! Then when we got in more open water where I could demonstrate, I explained to him how to steer with the double sidded paddle.

    I think he was a tad embarrassed when every one behind us was getting a bit testy at our slow pace and Geralds inability to do anything other than zig-zag from one bank to the other by using the paddles as poles and pushing off the shore and not using the paddles as paddles in the water. He was running me head first into all the trees and brush! That truly should have been on America's Funniest Video's.

    Anyway, we finally make it to the drop off point where we get out and hike to the cenote. It's not a terribly long walk, but a good walk up and around the hill. When we get there, the guide is pointing to this tiny little opening and saying that is the entrance. I was thinkin, there is no way, my body is gonna fit through that hole! I had to watch the others do it cause I just wasn't seeing how it could be done.

    When it was my turn, I noticed that the rock is actually carved out on the inside at just the point where I thought my back would hit it and get caught. So I made it through the hole with no problem other than slippery steps. When we all made it down, it was all dark and a few candles lit. Couldn't see anything I was thinkin, it this it? Then they turned on the lights and WOW! All of a sudden we could see the staglimight or how ever you spell it. the formations were awsome! So we continued down the path to the water. They had benches to sit on so we could take off our shoes, t-shirts, etc.

    1/2 of the group couldn't swim a lick (including Gerald) so they all grabbed life vests and put them on. Then the guide explained what a cenote was and gave us some info on why we couldn't wear sunscreen, etc. in the cenote. He also explained how they are formed. Good info for someone who was clueless, like myself.

    Then it was time to go for a swim. The first person jumped in and started screaming how cold the water was. So I didn't wanna jump, I figured I'd step down into the cenote from the stairs. And, I'm glad I did, that water was practically freezing! It was if I was stepping into a frozen margarita, but colder! Anyway, we got to swim as long as we wanted.

    Then it was time to put on our shoes and stuff and head out. Just as the last person exited the cenote, it started to pour down raining. No biggie, we just went swimming! So we hike back to the van. My new white guys shoes were pretty brown by the time we got to the van but I didn't care, I was having fun!

    Then it's off for lunch at the village of Chimuch. We pull up and the women of the village have everything ready and waiting for us. We had chicken, rice, black beans, watermelon and a few other things. This meal was only second to the seafood taco's at El Timon. I ate as much as I could and loved every bit of it. After lunch we had some time so I decided to take advantage of that and "go visiting" with some of the people. I met a man who was walking his 3 year old daughter down the street. She was waving and kept saying "hola!" with this huge smile on her face. So we took pictures together and they pointed out a few things to me, like the kitchen where the women cooked the meal, the bathroom, where they lived...and it was really cool being able to take pictures of all of that. Then I went over to the kitchen and spoke to the women there and they offered me some bottled water and showed me how they cooked the meal. They were in the process of scrubbing the counters and pots. They actually do a better job of cleaning the pots than BBG does of cleaning the glasses.

    After that, it was time for our last 2 activities, the zip line across the jungle and the repelling down the wall. Naturally, the ones who had done it before went first. The zip-line seemed pretty safe to me so I knew I was going to do that one. We all got these garter like belts to put on. Then they hook your "garter" to the zip-line (which is a metal rope that you zoom down) and you step up to the edge of the clif and either you can jump or you can just sit and gravity will take you over the cliff. I chose to sit and then do a small jump. I must say, flying through the air like that was the most exilerating thing I have EVER done. At no time did it seem like the metal rope was gonna break or anything scary that would make you do a number in your pants. It was a smooth ride all the way down.

    Then you get unhooked and walk back up to the top. The walk back up to the top was actually harder than jumping off the cliff and that's the only reason that I didn't do it more than once. I started to do the repelling but backed out.

    I got all hooked up and then when the guide told me to step all the way to the edge, I looked straight down and couldn't imagine that rope holding me up without me already knowing the technique. I didn't wanna risk not being able to hold my legs parallell to the ground since I have two bad knees and sprained one just yesterday. But, most everybody else tried the repelling and said it was easier than the zip-line. I just wasn't sure if my knees would be able to do what I needed them to do.

    Anyway, the guide let everybody do both activities as many times as they wanted and some of the guys were doing the zipline upside down, flatline and all sorts of creative ways.

    Then the day was over and we had a long ride back home. We all got dropped off at our hotels rather than at the plaza. It was sad saying our goodbyes because many of us had done stuff that we NEVER imagined that we would ever do because of our fear of heights.

    When we got back to BBG we ran into a friend and told her about our adventure and I promised her that I would do this again with her & suzie if they wanted to do it and I could show them how someone who is terrified of heights could actually do the stuff. The rest of the evening we all just chilled out for the most part. Me & Gerald were too tired to go out and my knees & butt were hurting from the long, cramped ride back. Those speed bumps in the road were pretty tough on the hind end!

    The link to the website where you can book the tour or email them with questions,is below.

    http://www.alltournative.com

    It's worth every penny if you can afford it!!!

    Michelle
     
  2. gottaski

    gottaski Addict Registered Member

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    awesome report!! i've looked into those trips a little bit, but am looking again.

    and, wow!! you keep trip reports on disk?!?!?!?
     
  3. Michael F.

    Michael F. Moderator/1st CC Member Registered Member

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    Kool! I remember reading your report before, Michelle. Was wondering where it was. Great report on a great experience. Happen to have any pics of it to share?
     
  4. shoreladie

    shoreladie Guest

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    Trip report

    That was an awesome trip report . Do you really save everything you write from cancun on a disk Michelle? That is awesome if you do.. I wouldnt remember to do that at all . I would just remember my picture if i dont forget them anywhere LOL . That is why I have sticky notes everywhere to remember everything . Shoreladie of New Jersey (Lisa)
     
  5. NormsKid

    NormsKid Guest

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    I tend to keep most things on disk as I can be rather long winded at times and typing out things in Word/WordPerfect first tends to be easier, then I just transfor the info to the post.

    As for pics, I've been trying to hunt down lots of stuff today, the pics your asking about being one of the things I'm looking for. Whenever I find them, I'll add the pics to the report or at least a link to them at webshots whenever I get them uploaded.

    I did manage to find about 7 disposible cameras full pics from last trip to Cancun....gotta get them devoloped an see what the heck is on them.

    Michelle
     
  6. TANDG

    TANDG Guest

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    Thank you Michelle. It sounds like it's quite an adventure!I can see myself doing some of the "stunts" but unfortunately, I can't ride a bike..never learned how :oops: I can always count on you for an answer. Thanks again.

    Terri

    Michelle..did you change your dates to go to BBG? I thought we were going to be there around the same time.
     
  7. NormsKid

    NormsKid Guest

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    They do have peddlecycles at Coba for those who can't or don't wanna ride a bike. You jus tip the guy something and sit in the cart in the back. He peddles you around to wherever you want to go.

    Yes, I did change my dates. Couldn't go when I orignally wanted to. Won't get to meet ya this trip...perhaps on another.

    Michelle
     
  8. TANDG

    TANDG Guest

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    That's too bad. I was looking forward to meeting you.

    Terri
     
  9. Jim & Lindsey

    Jim & Lindsey Guest

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    Easily one of the best trip reports I've read anywhere!! Parts had me laughing so hard I was crying. I'm now considering booking that tour, it sounds awesome.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jim
     
  10. NormsKid

    NormsKid Guest

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    Just decided to do a "MichaelF" and bump this back up as I get asked about "different tours" quite a bit.

    Michelle
     
  11. Jamie

    Jamie Mayor of Temptation Registered Member

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    Thanks for the bump... looks like something I'll have to check out.

    Jamie
     
  12. 212eric

    212eric Guest

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    What a great Coba tour report, thank you for sharing! I met some reps from Alltournative last year here in New York City, very knowledgeable people, so I am not surprised you had a wonderful experience.

    212eric