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Palenque

Written on: Wednesday February 13th, 2008

A journal entry from: Camping Mexico

Colin:

 The drive from Oaxaca to Palenque takes you through steep mountains, remote mountain peak towns, low lying river valleys, and lush rolling pastures.  I was quite impressed to see such a diverse spectrum of ecosystems and terrain during the 400 km treck (which was done in two days and took a total of 8 hours).  The drive from Villahermosa to Palenque is composed of rolling farm lands and cattle pastures, small villages, and NO topes on the highway.  Since we have gotten to the east coast it has been evident that they are not as attached to the classic tope as they are on the west coast highways?..thank god.

 Our campground near the ruins of Palenque, not actually in the town itself, was very tropical and lush.  We have not had a setting such as this since we were in Sayulita prior to Christmas.  It was a nice feeling for both Alayna and I to be surrounded by large trees and green fauna as we really enjoy living in the west coast temperate rainforest back home.  The campsite was also the closest accommodations to the ruins which made an early morning visit very attainable. 

 The Palenque ruins are a spectacular sight.  The ruins get 1400 visitors every day (during high season)so it is best to go early in order to enjoy them before it gets really crowded.  A 1km walk from our tent was all it took to put us at the bottom of their steep stair cases.  Some of the buildings were built as long as 1500 years ago which makes them the oldest buildings Alayna or I have ever been around.  The tall elaborate structures were built without the wheel, metal tools, or animals which makes the structures even more impressive.  Throughout the ruins are pieces of original stone relief carvings depicting timelines, events, stories and tales.  The Palenque Mayans seem to be somewhat smarter than the present day Tabascans as they built their site on the side of a mountain such that it would not be threatened by flooding of surrounding area which is low lying (Tabasco had severe flooding recently).

 Alayna:

 I was literally in the middle of typing a sentence when the winds picked up nearly 30 knotts, (thanks, X) slammed the lap-top shut, and nearly blew our tent and all our bedding into the ocean. I sit here as I write looking over the Gulf of Mexico, and I can see a storm threatening off shore. I do believe we were just skirted by it. One minute I?m sitting here in my bikini in the sunshine, next minute a storm is ripping by a few miles offshore, and blowing all our belongings into the water. I LOVE it.

 The jungle really does seem to come alive at night. As Colin and I lay in our tent at night (practically at the base of the Palenque ruins) we were witness to all sorts of noises from the surrounding forests. Most outspoken and audible were the howler monkeys. They produce a constant low grumbling sort of noise, and if I?d heard that same noise while camping 15 years ago, I probably would have concluded there was a yeti-monster or Sasquatch lurking beyond the trees.

 On Tuesday I was reading by the pool, when Colin called me back our campsite. I sensed urgency in his voice, so I ran over, and saw a few people gathered round the base of a tree. No, MXG was not climbing the tree. Rather, there was that familiar growling sound of the previous night, only this time it was a lot louder and a bit more threatening. Looking up, there he was, the Yeti monster from the night before! Nah, it was only a howler monkey, 10 feet above us. He proceeded to scampered around, rather above, the campsite for a while, and even turned down a banana offering from the humans.

 Experiences like these are what make the idea of eventually going home difficult.

 

From Morley E on Feb 20th, 2008

Brings back memories of 30 years ago - Palenque was my favourite Mayan site, increadibly beautiful and unspoiled even with being a major tourist destination.