Friday, February 13, 2009


Here I am - better late than never. We set off for Villa Hermosa yesterday, and arrived there around one o´clock in the afternoon. After raiding Wal-Mart for much-needed supplies, we decided that the day was young and we should proceed. It didn´t appear to be very far at all to Palenque. So off we went, but it was farther than we thought, and we didn´t arrive here until just before sunset. We are camped at Mayabell, which is the RV park closest to the ruins. It has no wi-fi, but I don´t think any of the parks do. Fortunately, there are several internet places in town.

Before settling in for the night, we went to the swimming pool, where I rediscovered one of my irrational - no, semi-rational - fears. It was dark, and there was very little light around the pool. I knew that the pool was created by damming a stream, and that there are no chemicals used in it. The water just flows through. It´s very pleasant to swim in. The problem last night was that, well, it was dark, and we were in the jungle, and I couldn´t see what was in the pool, and I found that I didn´t want to put my feet down. I told myself firmly to get over it, and I swam around for a few minutes, long enough to cool off. I went swimming again today, by daylight, after we came back from the ruins. There´s nothing on the bottom of the pool except concrete. A few leaves float on the surface of the water, but they don´t seem to have any ill intent. They just float around.

I needed that swim today. At 9:00 this morning, we got on our bikes and headed up to the ruins. The operative word is üp¨. And up and up. Finally, I gave up, figuring that by the time I had climbed to the top of a pyramid or two and struggled down again, I was going to be too tired to hop on my bike and ride the brakes all the way home. Robin agreed. We rode home a lot faster than we had ridden up, locked the bikes, and took the bus. The gate wasn´t too far beyond where we had climbed, but the hill was very steep.

We paid our admission and set off on our own, as the going price for a guided tour appeared to be 600 pesos ($60 Canadian), which seemed a bit much to us. I´m glad we made that decision, as a lot of what the guides did appeared to involve taking their charges to the many catchpenny operations set up along the paths. People had put plastic tarps on the ground and were selling wooden horses, blouses, statues of various sorts, jewellery, prints - none of which interested us. We walked around and read the plaques, which were written in three languages: Spanish, English, and Chol, the Mayan language. The comments were chiseled into stone. I had to laugh when I was reading the sign outside the Juego de Pelota, the ball court. It referred to the ¨slopping midsection¨ of the court, and I pictured the look on the face of the poor guy doing the chiseling, when he noticed his ¨typo¨.

The highlight of the site, for me, was el Templo de la Cruz, the Temple of the Cross. We climbed five tiers of stone stairs. Some of the risers were knee high. I think there were about fifty of them in all. At the top was the temple, where archaeologists had found tablets describing the accession of Lord Serpent-Jaguar II to the throne in 684 AD. Later, in the museum, I saw this temple and the plaza in which it stood described as follows: It was conceived as an image of the universe, where its temples symbolized the mythical places where the gods had been born.

To get to the museum, which is quite near where we are staying, we descended hundreds of steps through the jungle (where, sure enough, things hang from trees and crawl on the ground and sneak up onto your sandal and sting you - okay, it was an ant). Halfway down, there was a wooden platform for viewing an absolutely beautiful, gentle waterfall called The Bath of the Queen. Then there was a wiggly, squirmy wooden suspension bridge over the wide stream. Then, the museum, where I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and realized I looked as if I had gotten caught in the rain, though there had been no rain. When we got home, I made a hurried brunch so I could get back into the swimming pool. I feel much better now, but I think my legs are going to break and fall off.

Oh, speaking of rain - there was some, but that was yesterday. We drove through two rainstorms between Villa Hermosa and Palenque - the first rain we´ve seen on this trip, I believe, at least the Mexican part.

The last I saw, Robin was still poring over maps, trying to decide where we will go tomorrow. We think perhaps back to the gulf coast, headed toward Cancun. RV parks seem to get a bit scarce along that coast, so it will be an adventure.

1 comment:

Kathryn Magendie said...

I don't like going in water where I can't see what's there, either! For a pisces, I am funny about water - can't stand it over my head -if water closes over my head, well, I almost panic....once went on a docked ship and went below - just knowing water was surrounding me send me to flutters of panic - so had to go back up! huhn.

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