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Locals worry about indefinite closure at Cobá archaeological site

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Cobá and its great Nohoch Mul pyramid will be off-limits to tourists for an unspecified amount of time. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The archaeological site of Cobá, one of the most popular in the country, will be closed indefinitely for maintenance. 

The closure has caused concern for locals who depend on tourism for their livelihoods.

“Why exactly are they doing this now? The site was closed for months due to the pandemic, would that have not been a better time,” said Maria Chan, a local of the town of Cobá adjacent to the archaeological site of the same name.

Authorities are rumored to have scheduled maintenance work as an excuse to punish local landowners who have begun to charge their own fees to access the archaeological site.

The fact that the INAH has announced that Cobá will be closed indefinitely seems to only add credence to the notion that politics are at the root of the closure. 

The fees charged by these local landowners ascended to 100 pesos per person, which is particularly grievous considering that general admission to the Cobá archaeological site is 80 pesos. 

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The controversy comes on the heels of similar land disputes in Yucatán at Dziblichaltún and in Mexico state at Teotihuacan.

INAH says it will also be improving the site’s facilities by upgrading electric and parking infrastructure and improving signage.

Corbelled archway leading to the main ceremonial center in Cobá, Quintana Roo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

Similar improvements are also planned for several other archaeological sites including Palenque, Edzná, Chichén Itzá, Tulum, Calakmul, and Kabah. But in these cases, no mention has been made of closures. 

Cobá city became an important trading hub during the late classical era, as several roads or sacbé converged in its territory. Cobá has also become a hub of sorts in modern times, as it lay just off a new highway from Valladolid to the Riviera Maya

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