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January 17th 2013
Published: January 19th 2013
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Weve made it out of Cancun for good this time. Currently it is raining. Like raining raining. Constantly. It started in the night and has been going all day so far thus we have resorted to being stuck indoors. We had plans to go for a horse ride today in the hills but thats been swamped. (Written after the fact: In total it rained for about 18 hours and went into the second night. The temparature dropped immensely taking us from mid 20s down to putting on pants and a jumper)

Whilst on Holbox we made a list of all the items Jane needed in order to carry on. On recommendation from the staff at our resort we went back to Cancun on the basis that this would be the best place to obtain these items. We had one place in particular recommended to us which was Plaza Las Americas. In short a mall comparable to most malls in NZ by size, full of shops with American stuff and high quality local stuff...... let the 4 hour shopping spree begin. Russell made a great mule carrying the accumulating collection of bags whilst Jane set about putting the credit card through its paces. All in all whilst there are some gaps, like a rain coat that would come in handy right now Jane mostly has what she needs all for $500 US. Including a pair of New Balance running shoes which were $50.

Whilst in Cancun we also took the opportunity to check out sights in two neighbouring regions in particular being the ruins at Tulum and then at Coba. The ruins at Tulum were highly uninspiring. Most of the structures were literally ruins at ground level and what little there was, were not allowed to be explored on by tourists which is understandable given the desire to protect the site. The most incredible part of the ruins was the location atop a small cliff overlooking the Carribean. The views were stunning as was the beach and the water. We managed to make it in for a quick swim before jumping back on the tour bus. Cancun itself has on average 60,000 tourists a week - mostly American, and Tulum is one of the "sights". The carpark even when we arrived there had 20 tour busses and the passengers were literally being hearded through the site.

Coba was eaqually uninspiring for the better part however the main temple which is the highest in Yucatan at 48 metres was awesome - particularly as we were allowed to climb the 120ish stairs to the top. The temple held a commanding view over the top of the jungle canopy. The ground in all directions was flat creating an incredible panoramic view.

On reflection we think that we have easily been spoilt having explored the likes of Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal and even the forts in India and we cant help but compare our experience exploring those to exploring other archeological sites with respect to their individual place in each nations history and culture.

We had to change our route to accommodate the time spent optimistically waiting for Janes bag to be delivered and then spending more time acquiring new items to keep travelling. We skipped Merida and Campeche and instead went directly to Palenque. The bus trip was 13 hours and whilst the preference was to leave early in the morning and spend the day on the bus the only option was an overnight bus...... dom dom dom! scary memories of our last overnight trip in a coffin and crazy Indian drivers came flooding back ( ) Luckily though the busses here are awesome. The service was more reflective of an airline - and definately better than United Airlines. We had to check our baggage (it arrived at destination and didnt get lost this time) and wait in a departure lounge to be called. The trip was seated vs a sleeper bus and although it wasnt a great night we mostly slept through the trip to arrive at our destination on time. The Mexicans definitely know how to do bus travel.

In contrast to Cancun which has a population of 530k Palenque has 15k making it big enough to have everything we need with room to explore and small enough that it is not overbearing.

We got ourselves into a local hotel and then set of to find the Palenque ruins walking the circa 10km to the location. The ruins were amazing, set in the foothills of a low hill range covered with jungle. The structures more or less completely open to be explored and the nice thing about the site was that the structures were in five groups spread over a two maybe three square km. whilst the structures had been excavated many were set in the side of hills and there were small walks through the jungle to reach each. The more comanding structures had greater open areas of flat space whilst many of even the medium sized ruins were still encased in the jungle that had grown up around them.

So the plan now.... see out today. Hopefully theres a gap in the rain so we can go and pick up the laundry and get some lunch. Otherwise we heading to San Cristobal tomorrow......

Additional photos below
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Looking flash in the new gears from Las Americas Mall

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