So it’s been a while! I’m sorry about that. We were in Merida for a grand total of 12 days whilst waiting for mail! Mine decided not to arrive so we made the executive decision to stop waiting around and move on! We didn’t do much other than laze by the pool, wander round the stunning Sunday markets, and we met some lovely people and went to a few bars. We saw some fabulous live music in a bar called La Negrita – highly recommended. The trumpet player in the band was one of the best I’ve seen! The music in Mexico has been insane. It always sounds so happy! I will try and get some decent videos to upload for you.
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We took a night bus on Saturday 5th December and arrived in Palenque around 7am on Sunday – a little sleepy but, thankfully, “unrobbed” (is that a word? It should be!) – In case you’re wondering, Palenque is in a state called Chiapas so we have moved on from the Yucatán. Chiapas is a south Mexican state that borders Guatemala (so we’re getting close). – We knew we wanted to stay in a place called El Panchan, a jungle cabin village, but we hadn’t managed to book. It is just outside the town of Palenque so we got a taxi down there to see if they had any room at the inn.
We’d heard the best places to stay in El Panchan were either Margarita & Ed’s or Jungle Palace so, naturally, we tried there first: one double room at Margarita & Ed’s for the price of 270 pesos and no space at the latter!! Neither receptionist was particularly friendly either, though this may have had something to do with it being 7.30am! It started to rain so we, reluctantly, walked down the paths that lead to the other accommodation only to be told that it would cost us 300 pesos a night! I was completely unwilling to accept this since I had heard that Jungle Palace is around 150 pesos a night for two.
A little perturbed, we had breakfast at Don Mucho’s, an Italian-Mexican Restaurant and the favourite in El Panchan, and had a big long think.
Think, think, think, think…
Eventually, I made the observation that several people had left with backpacks and that it was time to go back to see if a room had become available.
One had! It was a double room. Eurghh. So I had to share a bed with Mike – he snores. BUT! This did only cost us 75 pesos each a night. Big win! We did later have a problem with a few ants in our bed but they seemed to like Mike’s side more – another win! Take a look at our lovely, albeit wet, cabaña.
We dumped our backpacks and headed straight out to the ruins of Palenque. You can catch a collectivo from the entrance to El Panchan but we decided to walk and save the pennies – it’s only 3km. We had to pay an entrance fee into the Parque Nacional as it is a protected area and home to the howler monkey! Then you have to pay an additional fee for your entry into the ruins.
Ahh, the ruins! Palenque feels bigger than that of Chichén Itzá and, again, not half as many people! Yayyyy! I don’t think it is actually bigger though, there’s just more ruins and they are spread out over the hills! Thankfully it wasn’t raining whilst we spent maybe three hours walking around the site. The recent rainfall created a fantastic atmosphere as mist rose up from the trees in the mountains behind the ruins. I’m not sure I’ve manage to capture this fully in my photos and most of them are blurry. (I’m still working on the camera problem).
This is a 7th century mayan city that has been enveloped in a jungle of mahogany, cedar and sapodilla trees. As per my previous post, this made it feel more like a ruin but it maintains it’s grandeur! The site consists of a
palace and several temples; the Temple of Inscriptions, the Temple of the Skull, the Temple of the Count, and the Temple of the Jaguar, amongst others. The most famous ruler of Palenque was K’inich Janaab Pakal, or Pacal the Great, and his tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of Inscriptions. There were also a few female rulers – yay for women! I don’t want this to become a history lecture again so, go Google! Whilst looking at my photos though, try and imagine the grey stone structures painted blood-red with fantastic blue and yellow pattern as they would have been at the peak of Palenque’s power. This is something my imagination struggles with. I’m quite fond of grey!
It started raining again so we headed back to Don Mucho’s for a fabulous burger (shameless, I know) and then played some cards and watched some Breaking Bad! There is entertainment every night of the week at Don Mucho’s so we went again for dinner. A couple we met in Merida had recommended the pasta with shrimp, garlic and chilli. This sounded awesome and, guess what!? – It was! I should have taken a picture but, firstly, I’m not the type, and secondly, it disappeared too quickly!
I woke up on Monday to the horrifying sound of howler monkeys at about 5am. I say horrifying because their screams and howls are unlike anything you can imagine. It’s a bit freaky. But also insanely cool! They can be heard in a 3 mile radius so I have no idea how close they were. They weren’t directly above us by any means. It’s hard to imagine that a noise that terrifying can come out of something so cute and fluffy – google for images because I don’t have my own godammit! By the time we were up and ready to do something the rain started again. With not much to do in the actual town of Palenque, we decided to wait it out and go for a hike in the jungle.
I loved the jungle! Whilst stepping quietly over roots of trees, and manoeuvring our way under big leaves, and through small rivers, we tried desperately to spot monkeys, toucans, agouti, kinkajou, and squiggles (that’s squirrels to you normal folk, I guess). We did not encounter any of the aforementioned, and instead had to settle for trees the size of castle turrets, leaves the size of trees, ants the size of spiders, mosquitoes the size of butterflies, and butterflies the size of an adult’s hand.
FUN FACT: apparently, the Mayans of Palenque believed that butterflies were the souls of warriors lost in battle.
This trek was amazing, and I wish it had lasted longer. It was a set route that we were not to divert from and we only encountered one person during our little amble. Again, the rain came rather heavily and the jungle appeared to shake in fear with the heavy drops. It was fabulous. I could have walked for hours consumed within my own thoughts!
With not much else to do, we returned to our camp for more card games and Breaking Bad. Dinner again at Don Mucho’s. The entertainment for the night was less than impressive compared to Sunday’s band so we retired early ready for the off the next day!
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