Palenque Ruins, Creepy Spiders and on to San Cristobal

We just returned from Chiapas 
To Palenque, bus rides, local insurgents taking over the road…
San Cristobal and some outlying areas –

Upon awakening, and after a good night’s sleep,
We got dressed and walked outside
To find somewhere other than Don Muchos to eat.

There was a small juice/coffee/breakfast spot
Where others were seated under a palapa.
We sat down and about 10 minutes went by
During which, we had not been acknowledged
Nor had others who had arrived at the time we had
So we caved in and went to Don Muchos.

I had pancakes
With butter and sugar sprinkled on top
And a double espresso
After about five bites
I peeled the top off the pancakes
Eating only the top layer,
The best part.
Zoe looked at me incredulously
And asked if I had just eaten
The sugary top part without the pancake.
For someone who bakes pastries for a living
I was surprised she asked.
For the life of me, I can’t remember
What she ate.

We found our way to the park entrance
Paid 20 pesos for our bracelet
And decided to walk, rather than take a combi.
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It was incredibly humid and moist
We were dripping with sweat,
Even though we were not exerting any effort.
The path went through coconut trees,
Husks all over the ground,
Open like this, the juices and meat gone
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Trees  and plants were in bloom
One especially beautiful one
Which we didn’t get a photo of
Had long branches, without leaves
And was completely filled
With pink flowers.
We had seen these along all the roads
From Villahermosa to Palenque.
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On the path into the park
We discovered many more cabanas
Hotels, hammock campgrounds
And a small school
Under a roof, with no walls,
Which was in session.
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The children waved
We waved back
Wouldn’t you have loved
To go to school
In such a setting?

The buildings in this area
Are made of wood – something you don’t see
In other parts of Mexico
Or they are concrete
Open to the outside
For natural air conditioning
Like this one.
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Upon arriving at the entrance to the ruins
We purchased our entry tickets at the lower gate
And walked in the back side
Climbing up steep stairways
That were built into the hillside
Passing minor excavations along the way.
Stopping for water at each landing
You can see just how lush it is
Imagining how hot and quiet and sweaty to walk this.
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 Although there were arrows leading the way
There were no markers or signs
Explaining what we were seeing.
At the entrance we asked for a map
The workers pointed to a large sign
That had a map, behind glass
Which of course, unless you have
A photographic memory
You won’t remember a thing.
But who needs to when you have all this?
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The walk in was beautiful
Mixed with Jungle plants, birds, flowers
And periodic diggings, partially excavated
With people laying around on them.
At the top we entered into a large grassy area
With large leafy shade trees
And what would turn out to the the first
Of many large and beautiful stone ruins.
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Here is a gallery of photos
of the ruins site
[slideshow id=3386706919798155294&w=426&h=320]
And here is a link to the Frugal Traveler/NYTimes article
Which has good information about the site itself.

Later that afternoon
We returned to our cabana for a shower, and short rest.
We went in to Palenque town
To see about getting bus tickets to San Cristobal
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We were warned not to take a bus this same day
Which we had thought about doing.
Besides the ruins,
There’s not much else to do here.
But we were told the roads are not safe at night.
And we would have had to travel at night.
So we opted for the 7am bus to San Cristobal
Wandered around the town
Which has a bustling commercial zone
And ate lunch in a small comedor
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And returned to our cabana.

We had a nice little nap
And took our books up to the local outdoor cafe
To read, have a margarita and guacamole.
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The drink menu
Had one of those English translations
Which  I love
See if you can find it:
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The sounds of the jungle
Are soothing mysterious and rich.
We heard a piercing, howling sound
I told Zoe it sounded like one of those circus trucks
With a loud speaker on top
Announcing the circus.

Except, it kept going,
getting louder, and not moving.
We got up to explore
And discovered it was the howler monkeys
Which we had heard about, but had not seen.
Here’s a video of the sound
Which is like lions roaring
Coming from medium size monkeys
At the top of the jungle canopy.
Here’s a video of the sound &
A small view of one of the monkeys.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzSkpRWXcjA]

People were coming out of cabanas,
Falling out of hammocks
Searching the canopy for them.
A local woman was saying
They are large and dangerous
A local man says ‘follow me’

As it was getting dark,
And we had eaten already,
We signed out of the hotel
So as not to have to waken the owners at 6am
We crawled into bed.
I woke up with my book on my face,
I must have fallen asleep
When Zoe jumped up screaming
About a giant spider that ran into the bathroom.
I tried to ask her about it
But you know how it is when something scares you.

Normally I’m not afraid of spiders
But it is the jungle
The spider was very large
Having nestled itself into the shower
With it’s long bending legs
Attempting to crawl out over the tile lip.

I looked at Zoe and said
Let’s shut the door
Put a towel at the bottom
And not open it again.
Of course I immediately think
About going to pee outside
Which doesn’t sound very attractive
Amongst all the night jungle sounds
Which were so charming earlier
So menacing now.

I forget about that & realize
Our toothbrushes and toiletries
Are on the bathroom sink.
The dilemna!
I decide to see if it is possible
To do a long reach across the room
To grab them.
I think twice.
Zoe says ‘you’re a better man than me’
I”m not getting out of bed.
The spider is doing his best
To climb over the shower ledge.

I want to see him
But my irrational fear takes over
Fueled by Zoe’s ‘ooh!  ooh!’
And I don’t move the shower curtain
Seeing those legs was enough.

Somehow, I manage to grab the toiletries
By doing a quick jump into the room
A quick grab and a quick jump out.
I slam the door
Stuff the towel under it
Making sure there isn’t an opening
Crawl in bed, wondering
If there isn’t another one lurking
Under the bed.

In spite of it all
We had a good night’s sleep
Without use of the bathroom
Got up at 5:30am
Walked to the road to catch the combi
To the bus station.

Sorry, no photo of the spider.



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