Nov. 24, 2009
We left Veracruz at 9:30 and it was already 28 degrees celcius with no clouds in sight. Luckily we made a few wrong turns which led us onto a dirt road, through a very poor village, and past a very colorful grave yard and many extremely skinny dogs hanging about. Out of chance we found the highway we wanted to be on over a set of railway tracks and along a path. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the divided highway. Luckily for us there was a break in the median which we passed through when the traffic cleared. From here we found the 180 and headed for a small town off the beaten path called Paraiso.
Paraiso is a colorful small town on the Gulf coast. The town looked as though it was primarily supported by the spin offs of off shore oil and gas activity, which was evident when we spoke with the US pipe liners at a local restaurant. In the center of town there was a vibrantly painted church with a town square which was hosting a small festival when we arrived.
Nov. 25, 2009
We left Paraiso in the pouring rain. We rode for three hours as we were bombarded by cultivated blueberry sized rain drops. We were heading for the Mayan ruins "Palenque" located in the National Park of Palenque. We drove through the city of Palenque where we thought we would get a hotel. We decided to head up to the site of the ruins and were pleasantly surprised to find a village of cabanas in the jungle just outside the park gate. Here we found many other travelers and rented a private cabana for 200 pesos. It was two hours before dark and we settled down for the night with plans to visit the ruins in the morning.
The village restaurant had a roof of palm leaves and played xylophone and drum beats which suited the jungle setting well. We headed off on a short walk through the jungle and experienced the deafening sounds of bugs, frogs, birds and monkeys. We went for dinner, unfortunately for Greg there was no McDonalds. Still recouperating from his recent illness, he fell asleep at 7:30pm.
Nov. 26, 2009
Greg's spanish is not serving him well. We ordered coffees with breakfast and Greg's showed up in a one ounce mug. From here we walked the three kilometers to the ruins site in the pouring rain. The ascent was quite steep and began with excavated ruins which kept getting more extravegant until finally we arrived at manicured grounds. Here gargantuan Mayan Ruins protruded from the jungle canopy. Some of the ruins were unexcavated and were merely grassy mountains. The archaeogically restored ruins projected a very clear image of what they must have looked like in all their glory.
To our surprise we were allowed to climb the narrow stone stair cases all the way to the top. The stairs were merely 15cm wide and extremely slippery and steep. It was almost scary decending the stairs knowing that one false move would result in an unstoppable tumble and a modern day sacrifice to the gods. We spent the better part of the day touring the ruins and the museum located near by. It was very interesting and well worth the trip.
It has been a few days since Greg's illness. He has already forgotten that he should not buy street food. Apparently the pistachios some dirty little kid was selling on the side of the road was too irrestible after our long hike.
We have decided to stay another night here in Palenque and make our way towards the Belize border tomorrow, barring another day of bowel discomfort as a result of Greg's street food choices.