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San Cristobal to El Panchan, Palenque, 24th & 25th

Written on: Thursday January 24th, 2008

A journal entry from: Central America 2007

The 24th was bumming about San Cristobal at first, awaiting the el cheapo bus at 3:30pm to Palenque. In the morning, my mission was to post my huge package of souvenirs back to Australia. First off, I needed money (guessing about $100 to $200 AU for the 5kg of stuff). I ended up having to try 3 ATMs before one would read my sweaty, gross credit card (it gets carried around in my bra most days, I'm soon going to have my credit card no. permanently embossed into my chest...). Then, off to the post office, with a box I have been given for free the night before at a stationary shop (I offered to pay for it, but the guy said I could have it for free as it was packaging for his stationary merchandise). In the post office, I first had my stuff professionally wrapped, then it was weighed, then I was handed about 50 stamps and told to stick them on! 10 minutes later, I posted the package. Mexican post office workers are the best, they still have to wear navy blue lab coat, like in the old days everywhere else! And, there's a guy whose sole job it seems is to wrap parcels for tourists, lazy man.

Then, since I had spare time left in San Cristobal, I headed to the uninspiring-sounding Museo del Ambar (Amber Museum). I figured it might be cool since I like Jurassic Park, which starts with men digging out a piece of Amber in Costa Rica. But, it was basically a room filled with odd pieces of amber whoever had amassed over the years, with explanations in Spanish. Still, I can say I've seen a xylophone made of amber! Then, still had more time to waste, so I climbed up these steps to Iglesia de San Cristobal, which apparently had a good ivew of the town. Tursn out the town is ugly! And, I got scammed on the way into paying like $5 to some kid for her "school" which needed supplies. After I gave her the money (she had an official looking notebook), it occurred to me that she would be in school right now (mid morning), if she wasn't hustling tourists on the church steps! I think this is the only time I gave money to someone not in return for goods, I must be a sucker for the "school books" line, because I can usually walk past any decrepit half-starved beggar without batting an eyelid (usually thinking to myself, "why don't they just get a real job, everyone else here has a job and isn't begging!").

Caught the bus to Palenque, no hijackings, only 3 annoying kids behind me who kicked my seat for 2 hours, despite their mum being in the next seat. The bus braked suddenly at one point, and all the kids fell forward and hit their heads, following by 5 minutes of bawling. That made me happy!

In Palenque, we stayed a bit out of town in El Panchan. It's a kind of hippie community built around a bunch of bungalos, cabanas and restaurants for the tourists wanting to see Palenque ruins. At dinner (at Don Mucho's), we got to see this amazing band. It was like an inter-generational family band; the main guitarists were Mexican hippies in their 40s, but the bassist was a girl younger than me and one percussionist was a guy in his teens too. So it was like the kids got roped into their dad's or uncle's band. I was most impressed when one of the older guys played the panpipes at the same time as the guitar, it was like a Mexican version of Bob Dylan! We also sawfire-twirling and bongo drumming, but I refuse to talk about that, because the guys who do it are SOOOO up themselves, with like beautiful white backpacker hippie girlfiends, wlaking around the palce like they owned it etc. Makes me want to vomit. 

The 25th started with a trip to Palenque, because Emaya needed the post office and internet. But, I ended up catching a colectivo to the ruins myself, because she wanted more time on the internet (or just to avoid me!).  I got to the ruins in the early afternoon. They were somewhat busy (I got there just as a busload of local tourists too, bad timing), but still nice. Somewhat surrounded by jungle, and later on, I heard the gross sound that howler monkeys make (I had no idea what it was at the time). I also saw my first big fat iguana. It would crawl out of it's hole on some steps whenever tourists weren't around (or when it thought tourists weren't around, but one was actually sitting there waiting to take its photo! ha ha!). But yeah, Palenque is nice, not the best though!

Dinner was again at Don Mucho's, watching the fire-twirling, cool band, etc. But yeah, apart from the band, those guys suck.

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From fee on Feb 26th, 2008

oh your explorer outfit is cool and I like these jungle ruins! :)