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Playa del Carmen - Basecamp
2004-07-03 00:55:00
After we landed on the airport in Cancn, we rented a car and took of for Playa del Carmen 78km from Cancn. This was to be our basecamp.
Cancn is a tourist machine, especially for Americans on the Hotel Zone where they essentially find them self home away from home. Huge hotels of all the known brands on a narrow stripe of 25km. All the well known American fast food chains arre present, and everything is traded in US dollar.

We didn't want that, so we headed for Playa del Carmen, a small town with nice beaches, nice restaurants and a good location. We first checked out the Blue Parrot, recommended in the Lonely Planet. They said they were almost full, had a couple of rooms for a couple of days for a pretty high price low season taken into consideration.

We checked out the hotel next to it, Costa del Mar, half the price compared to the Blue Parrot for a absolutely ok double room with air conditioner, a nice beach, a good bar, eventhough the reggae music was pretty loud, and good food. An excellent choice indeed.

From Playa del Carmen we made a daytrip to the Maya-Toltec ruins at Tulum. They are from the 12th century, and are situated on coastal cliffs. The main structure of the site is the Castillo, and it gives a splendour sight of both land and sea. The majority of the structures are roped off, which means that you're not able to climb them and you're not even able to get close enough to see the frescoes, but it's absolutely worth the trip.

We also made a daytrip to the ruins of the important Maya city Cob. This city was thriving in the eight and ninth centuries AD, and the population is estimated to have been between 40-50.000. The city was abandoned for unknown reasons as so many other Maya sites. The ruins are scattered, and the distance between them are up to 2km, so it is highly recommended to rent a bicycle.

The ruins consist of four main areas, the Iglesia, the Macanxoc, Las Pinturas and the Nohoc Mul. The first area is just after the entrance and consist of the Iglesia, the tallest structure in the Cob group. On our visit it was roped off, so you couldn't climb it. It has several other structures aswell and also a ball court. Nice.

The second area are made up of mainly stelaes, and frankly it wasn't that interesting.

The third area, the Las Pinturas, consists of a temple and other structures with columns in their constructions.

The last area, the Nohoc Mul, was without doubt the best about Cob. It has the tallest pyramid structure on the Yucatn, a magnificient structure, stretching 42m towards the sky. The climb up was a thrill, the view indescribable (only a photo will do), and the climb down again was on the edge of beeing scarey. We managed to be totally alone on the top, and looking down you could really feel the force of the place. Beeing a priest here must have been a high !

Cob is absolutely worth the trip !

On the way back to Playa del Carmen we stopped at Hidden Worlds for Cenote snorkling. We changed into the wet-suits, and got the feeling of looking good, so I took a picture of Lars and vice versa. We didn't bring our cameras so no pictures are available inside the cenote. A cenote is a underground cave system filled with water and stalactites, and this area has the biggest connected cenote network in the world. It was an awsome expirience. Highly recommended.

Did I mention how good it felt with a bottle of beer on the beach after a long and exhausting day wearing a new t-shirt ?

We also made a daytrip by boat to Cozumel, but that island is a tourist trap. We did the snorkling trip in what they claimed were coral reefs. The only problem is that the coral reefs are vanished, leaving the expirience to be snorkling in an aquarium. A lot of colourful and strange shaped fish, but no corals. If you don't have urgent business on this island, it's just as good to stay away. The prices are insane too.
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