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World Trip 2011

Palenque

MEXICO | Thursday, 28 July 2011 | Views [409]

The drive from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque was slow and challenging.  Driving in Mexico has really made driving in Canada and Australia seem so easy.  We were winding up, down and around mountains and through villages.  There were so many speed bumps it was impossible to make good time.  It took us nearly 4.5 hours to travel 200km.  When we finally made it to Palenque, we got lost before we managed to find the road to the ruins and a place to stay.  In amongst the jungle we found a hotel called Mayabell.  I was wanting air conditioning, like usual, but we decided to go the cheap way and slept in the van overnight.  Despite the humidity we did get a little rest.  We awoke to the calls of howler monkeys in the trees surrounding us.  We wanted to get started at the ruins early to avoid the midday heat and headed there soon after they opened in the morning.  We found a parking spot, paid a local kid to “watch” the van and started out on our mission to climb some Mayan pyramids. 

The Palenque ruins are from around the 6th century A.D. and well preserved, I guess.  There were several structures including a Palace, a ball court, temples and tombs.  We climbed all but the main pyramid where no one is allowed.  Given how steep the steps are, it’s not hard to imagine someone taking a tumble.  There were limestone and stucco carvings showing the language, their gods and their rituals.  The Maya sure liked to sacrifice people, especially their enemies and prisoners.  They worshipped gods of the underworld, the sun, jaguars, and even corn.  We also checked out the museum where many of the artefacts were kept.  It was very impressive.  We bought some souvenirs and got out of the chaos and went in search of another place to stay.

I had read on the lonely planet website about traveller’s being attacked and robbed all through this area, there is one particularly heavy story where a European guy travelling on his own had had a big night and returned to his cabana only to wake up with a person on top of him strangling him to unconsciousness.  Later that day when he came around, he found his wallet, passport and of course money missing and had to deal with police, immigration and doctors for the rest of his day.  To say the least we did not want to take any chances and after wandering through the ruins for the day, found a safe place to stay at Margarite and Ed’s establishment.   It was a cool scene with travellers from all over the world hanging out and drinking Coronas and tequila.

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