Friday, August 12, 2011


Driving through Chiapas is beautiful - lots of farmland, curvy mountain roads, and small towns (sadly including plenty of topes, or speedbumps).

Also very interesting to see so much support for the EZLN, or the Zapatista Army. This area of Chiapas includes the cities overtaken by the EZLN back in 1994, including San Cristóbal and Ocosingo, and has had horrible instances of violence carried out by the military and paramilitary groups since. Currently the situation is calm, but the poor people of the area still feel that the government owes them better services.

("Land recovered in 1995 with the help of the EZLN and independent farmers. The land belongs to those who work it. Zapata Lives. The Fight Continues.")

(vendors along the roadside)

We had a reservation at Hostal Yaxkín in the Eco-turistica zone of the town of Palenque. Location was ideal - away from the hustle of the main streets of downtown (and "hustle" was selected intentionally, and no, not for everyone`s favorite dance), as well as easy walking access to downtown, a commercial street, and the corner of town closest to the National Park, where it's easy to catch combis. However, the hostel staff was not at all accomodating to our change in nights, even though we had called to inform them that we would be arriving two days later. We only lost M$X 40 from our deposit, but their attitude left us bitter (combined with the fact that we lost 40 pesos! For reference and full disclosure, yes, that is only US$3.30.). I suppose that's what we deserve for trying to make a reservation.

The next morning we caught a combi out to the ruins of Palenque to not have to worry about the bike or anything attached to it. We bought our entries (M$X 51 each) and had a fine breakfast of empanadas at a stand beside the parking lot. The owner`s son of about 7 years old entertained us the whole time with his very polite (formal, in fact) questions and mannerisms - quite the little salesman! We opted to not shell out the US$40-60 for a guide, and instead just wandered through the ruins with a map. I'm sure we could've learned more than we did, but as our next step, we still probably would have opted to just take a guidebook with us that explained the ruins, instead of forking out so much for the guided tour.

Entering the ruins, we realized exactly how many tour buses had dropped off loads of passengers in the hour that the park had already been open - a LOT. We were gladly able to break free from the crowds at ruins that were just a short walk away from the main areas.

Temple of Inscriptions was one of the first we came across. Here is where the tomb of King Pacal was found, and until 10 (or so) years ago, you could go down hundreds of feet into the temple and see his tomb, but sadly, we were only able to see a replica in the museum (actually in 2 museums - many of the original artifacts from his tomb are displayed at the Musuem of Anthropolgy in Mexico (jade mask, red gown, offerings - example pic of King Pacal´s goods (hehehe) seen in our Mexico City blog)).

Other buildings are not as well preserved, but still magnificent, especially seated in their jungle surroundings.

You can even walk through some of the passageways of the palace

(Temple of Inscriptions at left, Palace with tower at right)

(ball court)

Paths through the jungle were interesting to walk along, with plenty of plants and animals to watch.

(blue dragonflies were everywhere)


What´s crazy is that all morning long there was this eerie high-pitched screechy squeely sound that I`m pretty sure was the inspiration for all of Alfred Hithcock´s sound effects. Too bad we don´t have a way to record/upload sounds, but just believe us that it added to the ambience, especially in some of the tucked away ruins that were empty, except for us. Turns out it was an insect, and they just make that noise. But those chicharrines (or something like that...) are definitely more eerie than any other insect we´ve ever heard before.

We arrived at the musuem after walking through the ruins for 3-4 hours.

Both of us have enough trouble studying Spanish, we can´t imagine what Mayan must be like to learn!

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