My theme for the first week of January is the relationship pyramid, because really, isn’t it the perfect metaphor for a long-term relationship? It’s hard. It makes you sweat. Starting out, you’re on even ground, optimistic and know with certainty the view from the top is going to be beautiful. A little bit into the journey, your lungs burn, eyes dry out, muscles seize up, and quite honestly, those around you are jostling and cranky; the external influences on your perfect couple-dom diminishing the moment. Yet you think—anything that’s worth it is hard. It’s the mantra preached by every therapist and parent around. You keep going…up and up, and finally, you arrive.
There you are, relationship nirvana is the top of the pyramid. The view is…glorious. For about one minute. The heat is overwhelming, the water bottle has run dry, the noise from others is really loud and you look down, because like love, what goes up inevitably…you know. Goes down.
Life imitating pyramid
Little did I know this creative visual would spring to life on a trip to the Coba Pyramid in the Tulum Ruin region of Cancun. Located about two hours drive south of Central, Coba is one of the few remaining pyramids which are open to climbers. Chitzen Itza and all the others were placed off limits several back, and once there, it’s easy to see why. Beyond the steep incline, the rock is worn down from thousands of visitors. It’s steep. It’s slippery, and even after a great picture taking experience, the journey down is far more treacherous than the climb up ever thought of being.
To give a bit of detail, the road to Coba has long, desolate stretches, yet dotted with a few interesting bits–the trees and local towns unique, even if not inspiring enough for a closer look.
Past Tulum and into the area of Coba is the parking lot, which is close to the entrance, but the pyramid is a couple miles into the jungle. Its dry and arid, unlike Chitzen Itza which is hot and moist. One can cheat and rent a bike (and actually peddle) or rent a taxi, wherein you can sit while someone else peddles. The third option is you walk…all the way in.
Door number three is what Rog chose, because as you well know from our travels, the motto is: why take the easy route when we can get exercise? Now before you slay me with comments about being lazy, you need the context (if you have forgotten). I have walked, climbed, hiked and sometimes been on my knees around Gods-green-and-lovely-Earth with this man. And for once, just once, I wanted the easy way. We’d arrived late (3) which meant we had an hour to walk in, climb and get out. There was no way. I begged for the 4 bucks US—this still required us to do our own peddling, not be “full-lazy” as Rog described.
Of course, we were walking as we argued, moving further inland and away from the actual rental zone, all a part of Rog’s evil plan to get us there and make it a moot argument. A third of a mile in, I just went silent, knowing I’d lost the argument. This made Rog go quiet.
We kept walking. Nice trees. Cool ant formations and birds all around us. Trails and paths aside from the main soft-dirt road provided a few options and variety. Yet none of this mattered, by the time, we were half-way in, Rog gave me the silent treatment right back, found a rock and sat down. He refused to budge, and I looked at the time. He wanted to turn around (as I mentioned in the video) and I was having none of that. I told him he could sit and spin if he wanted, but I was taking the girls and going on without him.
To the pyramid
We arrived at the base, being warned by security we had limited time. They clearly underestimated the Gerdes girls. Up we went, scurrying like the termites we probably resembled. It didn’t take ten minutes, mostly because it wasn’t busy at all. Word to the possible visitor: if you go during rush hour, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. it’s so busy you don’t even have the option to hold on to the thick rope in the center, which makes the climb rather dangerous. Definitely come right at opening or at the end of the day so you can have room to climb, the ability to hold the room if required, and lastly, take pictures at the top without the risk of being pushed off. (Note: no bathroom, water or anything else and the platform area is quite small).
Instead of enjoying the moment, we look around and see what’s missing. Rog. Dad. Husband. Partner in all things good and bad. It was like winning the argument and losing the relationship, how one can feel victorious after the heat of battle but getting so badly burned you should have thrown the white flag.
At the moment, we realized it was worth nothing, because the three of us wouldn’t ever be able to talk about the “remember when we climbed Coba?” since Rog wasn’t a part of the memory. The heat. The steps. The rude visitors. We all agreed we had but one choice—race down as fast as safely possible, run/jog back to where he was an convince him to come with us.
Relationship–round two (que Rocky theme)
My IG handle is laughterwithasideofchocolate because laughing gets one so much further in most circumstances that yelling. So that’s what the girls and I decided to use as a relationship strategy. To laugh about the fact he was still sitting on the rock; laugh about not having water and climbing the x9!* pyramid not once, but twice, laughing about how funny it would be to laugh about this around Christmas time as we create our annual card. Everyone was laughing, except Rog.
For five minutes. When he realized he could sit and regret the decision to dig in his heels, or appreciate the fact that we could in fact, make it without the assistance of a bike or rider, he stood. But he started walking the wrong way. We stood there and—laughed. We were going back to the pyramid, and by gosh, he was going to come with us.
Now isn’t that just typical of a marriage or serious relationship? The moment you think you’re back on an even playing field—the fun isn’t quite over yet. You go along for a bit (which is hard because your still annoyed), then it hits. Up the pyramid you go. Forgiveness is hard. Admitting you’re wrong is equally hard. In fact, it’s quite possible you may say: weren’t we already here once before?
So it was with Coba. But strangely, it was sweeter the second time around. The pyramid only had a handful of people, the sun was going down, and the view was amazing. Most of all, we were a family, having gone through the fits and starts which are so typical of daily life. The smiles were genuine, the forgiveness real, and the memories all that we predicted. We laugh about the rock, recall how we thought we were going to die of heat stroke, how slippery and rather dangerous the slick rocks had become over time.
The top of the pyramid has a small (but closed off) building
But like working through all relationship issues, we were glad we lived through the burn, pushed as hard as we could and endured. And if you choose to go to Coba, you too will be glad you did. Heck, you might even want to do it twice, just for the fun of it.
We made it–as a family, the way it’s supposed to be.
- Arrive early or go late
- Bring a water bottle with a spray if possible. Water is sold at the entrance and at one other station midway.
- Double check on the latest time to start your walk/climb so you don’t arrive overly late