Palenque – Part 2

I’ve been asked to post more pictures of Palenque. Hope you enjoy:

This is a shot of Mayan tradesmen setting up for the day at the base of one of the pyramids.

A stone for sacrifices? I don’t know. There were a couple of these. Both were at the bottom of pyramids. Of course, that doesn’t mean that is where they were originally.

It isn’t obvious from the pictures but several of the structures at the top of the pyramids had been fitted out as personal residences of artists, explorers, and archeologists during the late 1800’s and first half of the 1900’s. They were complete with retrofitted windows and doors. Some of the window frames are still there.

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Ruins of Palenque

On the morning of Feb. 10th, I got up and after breakfast at Don Mucho’s I left on foot for the ruins. Right outside El Panchan, a turn to the left takes me to a gate with a guy standing around with a machine gun and a guy charging 27 pesos to get a wristband that is good for entering the park.

NOTE: this wristband is not good for entering the ruins. That is another 57 peso ticket. This second ticket must be purchased at the museum which is three kilometers down the road. But I didn’t know that. And I’m not complaining about the total price to see the ruins. Less than 100 pesos is very reasonable.

But, I walked about a half a kilometer past the museum to an entrance gate. It was the man at the gate who then told me about the need for a second ticket that could only be purchased at the museum. So, back to the museum, pay another 57 pesos, get ticket and then back to gate and in – but as I say, it was well worth the price of admission.

I could tell you about it all day but nothing I say would do it justice. So far, about one square mile of the city of ruins has been excavated. It is estimated that is just one-tenth of what is there. It is believed that the ruins cover ten square miles with well over 1500 structures.

 

 

 

 

I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

There were very few restrictions on climbing up and down the structures so I enjoyed it. One thing I’ve got to say: those steps seem a lot narrower and steeper when you are coming down.

Magic Carpet Ride

A lot has happened since the last post. I have left San Cristabol, spent several days in Palenque and am now in Catemoco. And, besides all that traveling in space, I have done some traveling in my mind. I’ve decided to make Catemoco my home – at least for a while. That doesn’t mean I won’t be traveling. It just means I will now have a place to come back to. At least fro a while.

So, on with the update.

This is San Cristobal the last day I was there. It rained 16 straight hours that day. The next day I packed my backpack, caught a bus and went to Palenque.

Feb 9, 2012

If you’ve ever read many travel blogs you would soon come to believe that people who write those blogs must travel by magic carpet. You read one entry and they are in Mexico City seeing the sights. In the next entry, they are in Guatemala on Lake Atitlan. Usually, little or nothing is said about how they got from one place to the other. I always wonder, “Was the trip really so boring it had to be skipped altogether? Did nothing happen during the journey? Or, could it be that the traveler is just so jaded by it all they just zone out for the whole thing?”

Well, I don’t plan to do that. Things happen when I travel from one place to another, even if it is just in my head. I admit though that sometimes it isn’t much especially if it is by plane (gag a maggot.)

Anyway, today I left my comfortable little room at the Hotel Posada Mercado in San Cristobal and traveled by bus to Palenque. The busline was ADO. The cost was one hundred pesos (about $7.75 USD.) That’s not bad considering it took five hours to get here. The bus was a nice big Volvo; very smooth and comfortable. The driver was a professional, not the usual suicide jockey I usual get when on a shuttle or tour bus. The seats reclined. There was an onboard bathroom. There was a double feature movie during the trip. Both of them were in Spanish so even had I wanted to watch them (I didn’t) it wouldn’t have done me much good. Between movies there was Spanish music. Neither the movies nor the music was played overly loud. For that I am grateful.

I snapped this picture from the window of the bus in some town I can’t remember. Like most kids that I have seen here in Mexico, Central America, and South America, work is just a part of growing up, not something that comes as a shock to the system when you get out of school.

So, what else happened on the trip? Pretty much nothing so I looked out the window and zoned out.

And then I got here in Palenque. It was approaching dark so I was in a hurry to get some place to stay. I had read on the net about El Panchan and a place out there called Margarita’s and Ed’s which was supposed to be a great place to stay. Being in a hurry, I jumped in a cab at the bus station for the ride out there – cost fifty pesos. I had been told I could take a Collectivo Bus for ten pesos but there wasn’t one handy.

Got out here in the boondocks to El Panchan and the cab driver dropped me off at M&E’s. There was some young(er) guy in the office. Everything I had read said that a single at M&E’s was max 160 pesos. The guy charged me 250 pesos PLUS a 50 peso key deposit! If it hadn’t already been dark I would have told him to kiss my ***.

After I got in the room I went to Don Mucho’s to eat, reportedly the best out here. I had an enchilada pizza and a cervaza. The food was great. The waiter should have been working as a dishwasher or some other job where he didn’t have to communicate with customers.

Now, I am feed and in bed. The bed feels damp like it needs a good airing out.

My little casita in the jungle.

Other than that, it was really a great day. I am out of San Cristobal where I was wearing six layers of clothes to stay warm. Here in Palenque in the midst of the jungle, it is warm – but just a little humid –

NOTE added 2-14: Remember, the above was written right after I got to bed that night and I was really tired after being on the bus all day. It turned out I came to like the guy running the place. After the first day, he decreased the rent to 200 pesos a day. Also I meet some great folks hanging out in Don Mucho’s and had a great time holding down a table there for a few days.

Popocatepetl Volcano

The 17,886-foot volcano 40 miles southeast of the Mexican capital is the country’s second-highest peak and has experienced at least 15 major eruptions in the last 500 years.

The weather here in San Cristobal has just not been to my liking lately. There are too many days when it is cloudy. When it is cloudy, we get no sun (duh.) When we get no sun up here in the mountains at 7100 feet, it gets COOL. Today, I found out what may be causing at least part of this.

Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano, which is about 40 miles southeast of Mexico City and about 150 miles from San Cristobal, has been spewing gas, water vapor and and other materials into the sky for several weeks. That activity has been particularly heavy the last couple of weeks. All this “stuff” blows down this way basically blotting out the sun.

My stay in San Cristobal is about up anyway. Less than two weeks now and I’ll be on down the road.

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

Well, lets see. Today is Sunday, another bright sunny day here in San Cristobal so how about a stroll down to the craft market?

The first thing we pass is El Centro, basically the center of town. It is a nice little park with a restaurant in the middle. It’s not obvious from the picture but there are about twenty shoe-shine stands surrounding the restaurant.

As we go on down the street, we are overtaken by a parade. As the sign says, this one is called Viva La Santisima, Virgen de Candelaria which means something like “Long Live the Blessed Virgin of Candelaria.”

There were several floats, all well done on the back of large flatbed trucks.
All of the floats had young children on them who were having a good time tossing candy to the crowds.
I’m not sure if the basket was meant to be part of her costume or if it was adlibed but I thought it looked good.
What can I say? Just a real sweetheart.
These guys were supplying the music and doing a great job of it too.
This was not a sexist parade either with just little girls. This guy was a real angel. The crowd was really loving him because he had the biggest basket of candy to throw out.
Just this one last shot than on to the market. 🙂
This is a picture of a priest talking to three young Mayan ladies.
Most of these shots in the market were taken sort of on the sly. A lot of these folks don’t like being photographed. In some places in Mexico it is illegal to photograph a person or a person’s possessions without their permission. If you do, your camera can be confiscated, you can be fined, or in some cases, you can go to jail. I don’t think that is the case here in San Cristobal – still…
These children were just wondering around as was I. The craft market is not only a place where a lot of people sell the things they make, it is a big social event.
More visiting with the priest.
The colors of the many things displayed would put a rainbow to shame.
A tourist bargaining hard for work that is already underpriced. Of course, it is like a game. If you don’t bargain, the marketers just think you are a fool. For the few things I bought, I did bargain, but not too hard. A few pesos don’t make much difference to me and it does to some of them.
Everything you see in this quilt is hand done. I didn’t even ask the price. If I had, I probably would have bought it, then what would I have done with it. I don’t think it would fit in my backpack.
I have to tell you – after a while, to me, all the colors and textures start to run together and I basically become blind to it all. It is like sensory overload I guess. Anyway, it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning. And I only bought one shirt. The original asking price was 100 pesos (about $7.50). I paid 70 pesos (about $5.25). Could I have gotten it for less? Maybe but who cares?

San Cristobal Morning Walk

Sometimes I get up early. Sometimes I get up a little later. Whenever I get up, and where ever I get up I go for a little morning walk. Stroll along with me on my little walk in San Cristobal.

In the first few pictures you have to look pretty hard to see where we are heading. It is a church on a hill.

See it yet? Check the next picture.

Now it is visible. Right there in the center.

We are closing in now. I can just see Rocky from the movie running up those steps!

They’re really not that tough – after the first dozen times.

Not many people come up here and those that do are usually quiet.

And, of course, I always want to know what is on the other side of the hill. The first time I took this walk, I figured it would just be more city. This was a pleasant surprise.

My Backpack has been Blessed!

…no – seriously. I’m not kidding. With holy water yet. By a priest.

When I came back to my hotel room today I noticed as I walked down the short hall to my room that I was following a trail of water droplets. Then I looked up. At the end of the trail was the door to my room. And it was unlocked. And there were several people standing around in the doorway. I walked up and looked in.

I didn’t know what to expect but what I saw was way more than anything I had imagined. There was a priest in full regalia sprinkling holy water all over the place; on the bed, on my backpack, on the commode, just everywhere. To say I was stunned would be an understatement.

One of the people in the doorway was the owner of the hotel and he was dressed in a very nice suit. That in itself is not usual. I guess he saw the look on my face because, despite the fact he doesn’t speak English, he made a real effort to reassure me.

“Is religious. For all hotel,” he said.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the parade of people follow the priest on down the hall, sprinkling holy water as he went into the next room. For just a brief moment it did cross my mind that maybe this was some kind of exorcism and I was the object. Paranoia runs deep. Anyway, now I can come to no harm. Everything I have has been blessed with holy water.