Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I have a favorite area along the Mayan Riviera that I like to visit. There are such wonderful little towns and fishing villages that, in the 20 years I've been traveling to this area, it never gets old.
With the cooler weather lately, I'm always reminded of one trip in particular I took with my now-ex husband to see the ruins at Coba. That was the trip where I was introduced to Sopa de Lima or Lime Soup.
My ex-husband and I left our condo as the sun was rising and drove the tiny road to Coba through poor shanty towns and jungle. We were both a bundle of nerves upon arrival due to our dodging of small children, foxes and other jungle animals that darted out unexpectedly along our drive.
Honestly, the Mayan ruins are nearly everywhere along this area of the Yucatan. This particular city, however, is one of the most recently uncovered. The ruins have all been overtaken by the aggressive growth of the jungle. Even to this day, most of the city of Coba is still buried or covered by the jungle.
We were directed to the ruins by several non-descript signs until we arrived in a clearing. We parked the car and followed the jungle path.
(This trip was taken in the late 1990's. Coba is now more readily known and available to tourists; therefore the area is more well-marked than it was then.)
As we walked the path, we saw parrots, wild boars and heard all of the natural sounds of the jungle. I loved it. I have always felt comfortable surrounded by trees and nature.
We walked for a while, exploring and experiencing the beauty of this place. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in the above picture. It was a spectacular view as we were above the treeline. My poor husband, who's terrified of heights, was not as thrilled with this view as I was. We walked around one of the lakes - a rare site in the area.
We visited as much of the ruins as we could before the sun reached a high point in the sky and the humidity of the jungle was bearing down on both of us. As we ventured back to the car, we noticed that the jungle was much quieter than it had been during our early morning arrival.
Ah yes, the tourists had arrived! The animals grew quiet as the busses pulled into the clearing.
Ever the research fiend, I had studied many forums and websites about the area. Someone had recommended this tiny place right outside the entrance to the ruins. The restaurant was nothing more than a lean-to really. It was called El Bocadito and today, it is a wonderful lodge and restaurant.
Back then, however, there were one or two tables under a tin roof and a friendly waiter who offered us Coca Cola in tiny glass bottles.
I love to try new things and the sopa de lima was a recommendation on many travel forums. We ordered it, despite the heat.
Sort of a combination of chicken and tortilla soup with just the right amount of spice and tanginess, this soup had us both in agreement that we would have to make it at home too.
To this day, I want that soup if I'm feeling ill or the temperature drops. My body craves it now. You think chicken soup is perfect for a cold or flu? Sopa de Lima, because of the lime, has an even better boost with Vitamin C to fight off illness.
There are too many recipes for me to pick just one. I tend to go by taste, adding more jalapeno or cilantro or more lime as I cook it.
Emeril Lagasse's version
Rick Bayless version
New York Times Recipe
San Diego's Parobs (and picture)