Woke up before the sun, met with some lovely friends and went to the water's edge to call up the sun! And, we got to see it breaking through the clouds, and shining sweet and bright. After that, a quick cup of coffee and then I taught Vinyasa. Students found their own groove, we did some great individuation and then came together to flow, and to play.
Finishing that, I grabbed a quick breakfast and set out for Coba, one of the incredible Meso-American sites close by. It was a quick forty-five minute drive, we arrived nice and early (Gracias, Manuel!) and beat the rush. It's entered into the rainy season, but this morning was just mostly overcast, with the air moving around nicely. This is a benefit, because even though you head through the jungle to get there, there are ample opportunities to get a great sunburn, especially for those of us who hail from the Hebrides!
The overcast sky made it cooler in the jungle and the air moving thwarted the mosquitos, so two unexpected boons on the trip to start out. VIsiting Coba entails hiring a guide to give you the overview, the history, the differences between the Classic period and the Post-Classic period, of which I give you the quick, cliff-notes. Classic is Mayan culture, and they would really like you to understand that they were NOT into human sacrifice... animals, sure, but not humans. About 700 years later, you enter the Post-Classic period where the Toltecs came and joined the Maya, and these are the folks that loved to chop off heads.
Ball courts, they've got 'em. Two really nice ones, with sloping sides and a large hoop, only about 3 meters up; this is in contrast to the largest ball court uncovered, at Chichen Itza, where the walls were vertical, the hoop very small and about 7 meters up the vertical wall (and where the 12 pound ball was set on fire during play). So, Coba's seem pretty tame, until you realize that in the Classic Period, it was the WINNER who to the honor of self-sacrifice - this entailed either piercing the tongue and then threading through a multi-meter rope through that hole. Oh, forgot to mention that large thorns and barbs were woven into this rope. Ok, what kind of prize is that - here's your alternative: you can push a meter long stingray tail through your penis because that'll make anyone a winner.
Have to say, I guess if that's winning, I would rather have been the star of the Post-Classic, where they just lopped off the winner's head at the end of the game. Call me crazy, but last place sounds great!
Past the ball courts, and after you leave the guide, you can take a kilometer walk through the jungle to Nohoch Mul, or the Big Pyramid. While the pyramid at Tikal in Guatemala is technically higher, the Pyramid at Coba is the highest point on the Yucatan peninsula and well worth the arduous climb.
So, we trek through the jungle, enjoying the craziness of the flora and fauna and arrive at the base of Nohoch Mul. You'd think you could see this thing from a kilometer away, but unlike most sites where the pyramid is on a plaza, this one just rises out of the jungle. You come to a curve in the path, then there's a little opening, then you're staring up at the 60 degree angle of the face of the Nohoch! Truly inspiring and grand and mind-blowing.
We're standing there, just digging it, preparing. The sky cracks open and it just pours, like firehouse-rain-forest-deluge. So, we run to the nearest little palapa, with about 15 Russians and contemplate our options. You see, these steps are at slightly better than a 60 degree angle, they're between 12-18 high, but about 6-9 inches deep and they are well worn... for most folks, going up is hard enough, and I've seen more than a few just simply balk at going down... crawling down, butt-dropping like a kid on the stairs or crawling down backwards. No judgment, it's freaky - I'm a freak, so I'm happy to run up and walk down, but not in a deluge.
Bummer, I'm thinking, all this way for a shut-out... my friend, Kel-e is with me, and our new travel companion, Kat. We're willing to wait... glad we did. About 15 minutes later, there is a slight break in the downpour, then it settles to a drizzle. We bolt for it, jump up it like antelopes, which still takes a bit of time, and make it to the place where we can join the Honey God, high as heaven. The view is indescribable! You can truly see for miles, and the first temple that you walk by with the tour guide that seems so high barely pierces the canopy. You can see the multiple lakes, and a carpet of hundreds of colors of green as the forest canopy becomes the 'ground'.
I've seen it before, but I'll never pass on the chance to see it again. And, the other time was in 95+ direct sun, baking us and making it hard to simply stay up top and enjoy the view. An added benefit of the day and the rain was watching soft clouds of mist roll over the tree tops - ever seen the "Smoke" in the Great Smoky Mountains? Then you get the magic of the image.
We knew we were pushing it, so down in the drizzle, which did make it much scarier. One mis-step and you're at the bottom, fast and broken. Luckily for us, no worries, all down and happy and grateful. 50 meters back on the trail headed back and the deluge begins again, and I've taken a shower with my clothes on and not gotten that wet. But, we were digging it, living it, I didn't have to use sunscreen (which I hate) or OFF (which I deplore, but use in the jungle). All in all, soaked to the skin but grateful and happy!
You don't climb a mountain or a pyramid to conquer it, but rather to conquer the self, and to see the perspective that is only available to those who make the climb, not those who stay on the ground. So, what are you willing to scale, to ascend to, to elevate to?
Think about it, and give thanks and praise for rainy days!