Sunday, March 8th. We are now in the state of Chiapas at Maya Bell Trailer Park just a couple of kilometers from the Palenque ruins. Because the drive here was about 300 miles, we didn’t have time to post our Chetumal blog before we left Yax Ha. The roads were good except for some sections which were undergoing construction and unlike the rest of our Mexican trip there were few pueblos (villages) and topes. Except for some sugar cane most of the land was used for ranching. We did get an opportunity to photograph some of those Siamese cat and black and white polka dotted sheep I’ve mentioned before. Driving thru one pueblo, we had to wait for a small black pig to cross the road. Sadly, we didn’t get his picture because we thought he was just another Mexican mutt wandering on the road until we were right upon him. Perros (dogs) are everywhere but we never see gatos (cats). As there usually is at least one mutt roaming every camp ground, poor Furgie is not getting to sit out in her chair as often as she would probably like. She did get to sit out one evening here at
Maya Bell is very rustic and only equipped to handle small rigs like ours. In fact, we brushed the jungle growth just getting thru the entrance. There are numerous other camping options in the area but our Church camping guide made it clear that this one has the best combination of character and amenities. We are surrounded by jungle. The park is aromatic with the warm sexy odor of flowering ginger. The place is full of young backpackers reminding us of the American kids backpacking in Europe in the ’70s. Only thing missing are the bell bottoms and tie dye.
The park’s cozy restaurant extends out to a lighted patio area with a small stream running through it. We ate inexpensive and unremarkable dinners in the restaurant. The nightly entertainment started playing early enough for us old fogies to enjoy it. In addition to a guitar, the duo used a bamboo flute type instrument and a conch shell reminiscent of Hawaii as do many of the trees, shrubs and flowers.
The banos here lack seats and tissue. The only privacy is curtains but at least the men and women have separate restrooms and the agua
Polka dotted sheep
Not a a real good photo but this was as close as we could bring him in with our little pocket size Canon 1100. We were advised t leave the big 35 mm size digital at home.
is caliente. Both sexes do share a communal sink area. Actually, many Mexican restaurants have a wash basin outside the restrooms which is convenient if one only wants to wash up before eating.
We had a nice visit with our neighbors from Quebec discussing astronomy, politics, national health care, etc. We have noticed that even in rural areas only the brightest stars are visible although the moon now is not nearly full, whereas, at home in California, only a few miles from the cities the skies are just littered with stars. Here, although most nights are cloudless, we can find Orion’s belt but can’t make out the big dipper.
Last night we were awakened to the cries of howler monkeys yelling at each other in the surrounding jungle. They are quiet this morning but birds are creating quite a racket.
This afternoon we toured the Mayan ruins of Palenque. Our Let’s Go Mexico book describes Palenque as the crown jewel of Mexican Mayan ruins and says that it is one of the three most prominent Mesoamerican sites. The other two are in Honduras and Guatemala. Again, in both the museum and at the archeological site, all descriptions
were bilingual including an introductory film in the museum which had English subtitles. Getting to the site of the ruins, we walked thru the type of jungle I had imagined. Not a lot of palms but plenty of vines and orchids. Other leafy tropical plants as well as ginger were planted along the paths. I’m not sure these plants are native to the area but they smell nice and are pretty to look at.
On the path to the ruins we had a nice chat with a gentleman from Tijuana who told us that he makes grandfather clocks and that he has exhibited all over the U.S. including Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Palenque began as a small farming village in about 100 BC and grew steadily through the pre-Classic period. About 600 AD, the city began to flourish until it was deserted around 850-900 AD. Excavations have unearthed tombs including that of King Pacal whose burial site is called the first substantial burial place in the Americas. The king’s perfectly preserved sarcophagus was brimming with jade and other precious jewelry. Other unearthed tombs have contained human bone fragments and precious stones. Only about one fourth of the
Palenque site has been excavated. There was no information on whether they are working on the remainer of the site or plan to do so.
Several of the buildings have been excavated and we were able to wander the halls. Our guidebook pointed us to the site of the royal banos. I was glad to have my new shirt with the pouch as I needed to frequently change from sun to ordinary glasses as we went in and out of the temples.
Another mystery to me is the construction of the Mayan buildings. Mayan descendants are typically short and some are quite stocky. I am fairly tall but the steps leading up the exterior of the temples, though not uniform, were at least fifteen inches high in places and were difficult for me to climb.
As no Mexican cities or archeological sites have provided us with maps, so in lieu of lugging my Let’s Go Mexico and AAA guide books around, we have resorted to cutting out the necessary pages. My mother would be aghast and roll over in her grave at the thought of me mutilating a book.
Later we caught the bus into the
city of Palenque. There wasn’t much to see. There were travel agencies organizing boat tours into the dense Lacandon Jungle to the Bonampak and Yaxchilan ruins along the Guatemalan border. My copy of Let’s Go Mexico (published in 2008) describes this is as a risky trip as the area is one of the final strongholds of the Zapatista rebels. An Oregon couple Ray met at Yax Ha was planning to take this trip. If we were traveling with others, and we could take turns staying behind in case something happened, nothing could stop me from this adventure.
Actually, at Paa Mul, we met Steve and Tommie who have been full timing in a SnowRiver truck camper for several years. We met up with them again at Yax Ha where we discussed teaming up for a trip thru Central America to Panama next winter. Steve and Tommie are just the type of people I’d like to make the trip with. They are intelligent, adventurous, easy-going and don’t distrust brown people. They also travel with a cat. Vega is hairless.
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