Exploring Mayan Wonders: Our Day at Chichén Itzá & Coba | Day 318 of my 2023 Journal


Wonders of the World: Chichén Itza & Coba!

Some days will go down in our history as mega.

Visiting two Mayan cities in one day will surely be one of them.

I don’t even know where to start.

Maybe just share?

Early Morning Departure: Starting Our Journey to Chichén Itzá

We left at seven in the morning with the same taxi and the nice José, who would look after our dogs and drive us to both places. It was early, but it was worth it. The first drive was two and a half hours. We saw the context change, but not much. We drove along the Mayan Riviera and then through a lot of jungle before we arrived at Chichén Itzá, the most famous of the Mayan sites.

Immersive Experience: Unveiling the Mysteries of Chichén Itzá

Listening to good advice, we hired a guide. It seems all the guides are of Mayan descent and have a good education and a great passion for the history of the Mayan culture. This one was great! Sharing so many details, we were blown away by the numerology, the calendar, the symbols, the religions, the merging of different traditions, and the entire place unfolding for us.

It was indeed a wonder.


Hunger for more knowledge.


And more awe.

This site dates more or less the same time as the Viking Area, so we had nothing to say about violence - even though it DID seem extreme. The wall of skulls. The sacrifice of the winner of the ballgame. The human sacrifice.

It was a big thing for us to walk into the ball court. Storm's favorite movie when he was a child, was Eldorado, and the ball court in the movie is an exact copy of the ball court at Chichen Itza. Standing there, unprepared to see what already existed in our memories, was quite a thing.

After the guided tour, we walked around to take it all in, which can not be done in one day. Then hunger pushed us out to our packed lunch.

Exploring Coba: A Different Kind of Mayan Adventure

The tropical rain welcomed us. 

Coba is more … inside a jungle. Less of a massive tourist spot. Chichén Itzá is full of tourists, and all the people who told us we would want to arrive early were right. When we left, masses of people crowded the place, and we were happy to go in the opposite direction.

Coba felt real in a different way. It is less restored, and it is older. It is still very much inside the jungle. Again, we hired a guide, and he told us passionately about his culture, the history of his people, his language, and the differences between the two sites we were visiting that day.

It was a beautiful experience to walk under the trees and listen to everything he had to say, seeing the different Mayan structures. Overwhelmingly, many of them!

We took only the basic guided tour as we also wanted to explore and talk just the five of us, and we got to do that in one of the heavy downpours we get here, where you are soaked within 3 minutes. We walked to yet another pyramid, through the jungle, thinking about the panthers and crocodiles living there and enjoying the turkeys with beautiful colors - the only animals we actually met.

Fun fact. The guide told us the reason we paid two tickets to get in was one to the state to visit an archeological site (fair enough) and one because the tourists had complained the locals would kill and eat the turkeys - and the locals had said: Okay, we can stop doing that, but then the tourists pay for the protection of the birds because we need to eat.

Now, I am all FOR the protection of animals. But I seriously doubt these complaining tourists have been vegans, and I would love to dive deeper into that story. It seems odd; everyone pays 90 Mexican pesos for bird protection and 100 for archeology?

Well. At Chichen Itza, there were also two tickets, and to me, it made more sense that I paid the state a ticket and the federal government another. Though maybe it did not have to be the visitor's problem that two agencies are sharing the rights.

Another interesting difference between the two sites is that at first, it seems the captain of the winning team of the ball game would be decapitated, and his head held by the loser - it was an honor to win and be sacrificed to the gods. In Coba, the tradition was less radical yet still gruesome: They “just” had to do self-harm to the genitals! Better than losing your head? My husband and sons did not seem convinced when they were presented with photos of the tools used to extract blood from … … well. Let’s not talk about it!

We walked in the rain. We took photos. It was magical. Every corner we turned, every tree we looked behind showed more Mayan structures, and we were overwhelmed. You can spend several days in Coba!

We left when they closed. And we drove another 90 minutes to get home, in our wet clothes and being very, very, very, very tired.

I must say, the warning sign alerting us to look out for panthers was quite the contrast to the one with ducks we saw in Great Britain earlier this year!

With love


Cecilie Conrad

Thank you for reading
I would love to hear from you. Listen to your thoughts and reflections - or praise :) It is often emotional to share our lives like this, and we get very happy when we get your feedback. So feel free to share a comment below 😋 

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