I've learned to arrive early at important points of interest. I wait for the gates to open. This way I get a couple of precious hours with the place all to myself. At Cobá, only a couple of workers travel the shady trails at 8:00 AM.
Near the entrance, the bicycle concessionaire has set out hundreds of mountain bikes, harbingers of crowds to come later.
Tricicladeros await those unwilling to cycle or walk. A complete circuit of the ruins is more than five miles long, so there's a good market for transportation.
Now it's 10:30 AM, we're on our way out, and here come the crowds. A tour leader holds her clipboard high, a flag for her busload of Cancún excursionists. Before them, about seventy whooping cyclists come swooping down us like the hounds of hell, veering around us tame walkers.
Tour companies bring them in vans, their logos familiar from pamphlet racks displayed in every hotel. "Get out...go native." Disneyland archeology.
A large bus brings a Spanish package tour group. Nice people; quieter and more respectful than American vacationers.
Souvenir sellers await tourists just outside the gates of Cobá. Everything they offer can be purchased anywhere on the Mayan Riviera, or for that matter throughout the Yucatán. Business will be booming when afternoon heat drives visitors out of the ruins, on their way to a margarita and the resort swimming pool.
Complaining about crowds gets me nowhere: I am one of them, I am part of the problem. I grumble as I jump out of the way of a speeding bicycle, but without the promise of all these people coming to visit, Cobá might not have been made accessible today.