The Lost CityCobá holds what remains of a large pre-Colombian Maya civilization located on the Riviera Maya. Lesser known than Tulum, the name Cobá means turbid (cloudy) waters—probably having to do with the five cenotes (underground rivers) in the region, which played an important role in agriculture during the development of this region. At one time the city is believed to have had 50,000 inhabitants. Much of the area is still unexcavated, although recent excavations unearthed a stele, which is unique to the Maya world, as it is covered in hieroglyphics. A restored ball court confirms that the popular ball game was practiced here. Bloodletting rituals traditionally followed Maya ball games at Cobá and slaves were forced to participate. This differs from what was practiced at the later site of Chichen Itza, where the captain of the winning team was beheaded after the game.
Climbing the ruins at Coba
Outside of Tulum, the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba go on for what seem like miles. This tower included 100-something steep steps, and after I got over my initial fear about tumbling down them, I climbed every single one—with a little help and handholding from my guide.