The discussion last night focused on what time we should leave this morning. The receptionist said Coba opened at 9; three websites said it opened at 8. It would take us an hour to drive there, so we suggested splitting the difference and leave at 7:30. That way, if it opened at 9, we’d only have half an hour to wait; if it opened at 8, we’d still beat the crowds. Bob was adamant that we beat the crowds and get there before the tour buses. We would leave at 7. Wearily we woke at 6:45 am. This is vacation, right?

We pulled into the parking lot at 8:05 am, no tour buses in sight. Once inside, we rented bicycles to cover the 70 km of ancient Mayan temples. We rode the single speed, rusty bikes, creak, creak, creak, from temple to temple, enjoying the shade of the large palm fronds and the rare breeze. We were virtually alone in our exploration. We relished the quietness, the solitude, the sacredness of the sites. As we approached each site, Bob jokingly urged, “Hurry, a tour bus has arrived. We have to beat the tourists.”

We inspected the ancient carvings, which always seemed to depict a mighty warrior standing on two servants acting as footstools. We climbed to the top of the tallest temple pyramid, amazed at the view, jungle in every direction, the sea further out, lakes dotting the landscape. We retraced our path along the sacbeob (white ways connecting the temples), encountering first a few people, then larger and larger groups, until we reached our starting point. Bob looked at us knowingly. Two and a half hours had passed.

Before we departed the jungle to return to the parking lot, Bob stopped us. “For ice cream, how many tour buses are in the parking lot?”
“Are we including mini-vans?”
“No, only large tour buses.”
“Price is Right rules, if you’re over, you lose.”

The lot that was empty a mere couple of hours ago was now filled to capacity. Cars, buses, mini-vans, packed tightly against each other. We counted. One, two, three, four, five, six… Six large tour buses and at least that many small touring vans. Laughing, we conceded the early start was worth it.

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