There are few actions as satisfactory as singing in the rain. Old songs proved the right medicine for rain riding, and it was with Bob Dylan´s Tangled Up in Blue on my lips and some ad hoc poetry of my own that I pedalled through a thunderstorm. Rain licked off my face, steam rose from the road, and in an Aha-Erlebnis moment, it became quite clear how slave songs developed: toil in miserable conditions conjures songs. Indeed, with cadence and music as my anchor, I felt surprised at how tolerable it is to be soaked, with two hours´ride lying ahead, and thunderclouds extending to the horizon in all directions.
The 1,000 year old Mayan ruins of Coba lie in a sea of green forest, and the tallest temple, Nohoch Mul, rises above the waves of leaves. The climb to the top is not a task to be scoffed at; the stone stairs are steep, with steps of uneven heights and widths and angles, but those are the least of your concerns because vertigo strikes like a snake about three-quarters of the way to the top, and you feel as if you´ll tumble backwards into oblivion. But once at the top, the view is incredible. From the heights where virgins were once sacrificed, you can see birds flitting above the trees and butterflies of such extraordinary proportions and colors that they can be spotted from half a mile away. Far in the distance is a lagoon which alligators inhabit.
Onwards through Coba and storms, one arrives in Valladolid. It is a city which was first inhabited by Mayans; overtaken, razed, and rebuilt by Spaniards; retaken by Mayans; and eventually turned into a conglomerate of the two cultures, with the Spanish colonial style retaining architectural dominance. A little hotel — more like a B&B — run by a lady named Maria, her daughter, Isabelle, and her son, Julio, was the first place that I saw and, at the end of that long ride, the place that I selected. It is painted bright yellow with flowers and greenery in the corridors, and they serve fresh fruit for breakfast. It´s a wonderful place, and Maria, Isabelle, and Julio are what really make it great: in only a night they knew my name, were caring and attentive, and directed me to a cenote of local repute. A cenote is a limestone cavern, often filled with water, and this one — Cenote Samula — was remarkable for a tree which grew at the top of the bedrock, and whose roots had, over time, stretched a hundred feet down to reach the water at the bottom. One can swim in the cool, mineral rich waters of the cenote. There are two kinds of fish there: small black catfish and inch long minnows that nibble at your toes.
Was off early this morning, and now am in Chichen Itza, the best known Mayan ruins. No pictures either today or yesterday because the files are not being accepted — the computers in the interior of the Yucatan (away from the tourist hotspots) are older and slower.