Category Archives: Chiapas

Mayan Ruins of Palenque

I really wanted to visit Palenque, but I didn’t feel like driving all day through mountains and valleys and worrying about the next time we might stall on the side of the road. We were spending a few days relaxing in San Cristobal while I tried to sort out the issue and waited for the mechanic in town who might be able to help.

The girls found a cheap tour that would take us to Palenque and back in one day.  Basically, it was just a shuttle to and from Palenque in a 10 seater van, no frills, exactly what we needed and nothing more.  So, we got up super early one day and met our driver in town at 5am.

We stopped at a couple of well known waterfalls for a swim on the way.  First, Agua Azul, where the water cascades over calcium covered rocks into bright blue pools.

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And then another impressive waterfall at Misol-Ha.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We arrived at Palenque in the heat of the day and had a few hours to wander around the ruins, exploring the many trails that led to other parts of the ancient city that had been reclaimed by the jungle.

This place is amazing.  So many of the remaining structures have incredible stone roofs and plaster panels with intricate carvings that have survived for thousands of years. I can’t help wondering what the city would would have been like back in it’s heyday.  For some reason this city was abandoned, long before the Spanish arrived here, and it was gradually overgrown by the jungle until it was rediscovered hundreds of years later.

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San Cristobal de las Casas

Once again poor Oscar limped to our next destination, San Cristobal. We drove for about 10 hours and he was doing great right up until the end. We changed our route plans last minute and were glad that we did. San Cristobal is a nice place to be stuck for a few days, while we figure out what is going on with the van.

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Mark found a German mechanic (Jergen) in town. He’s on Mexican time now, so we did a lot of waiting. Luckily we weren’t in a hurry, and he was a big help to Mark as they tried to trouble-shoot what the problem could be. In the meantime, Mugsie and I wandered more cobble stone streets, and spent all our pocket money on amazing fresh produce.

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The political climate in Chiapas is also really interesting. We have been learning about the Zapatista movement. It has been called a modern day revolution. Since the first uprising in 1994, there has been a tense cease fire. The movement seems to be gaining popularity with the public at large. You can buy t-shirts that are very Che-esque. The native people are fighting for justice, education and the freedom to control their own industry. That is still probably simplifying things. There is a lot I still don’t understand about the Mexican government and politics in general.

As we drove through the country side we would see ladies in their amazing embroidered outfits working the fields. They looked more fancy than I would going to the office.

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We were in town for a tamales festival, which was delicious. I have been making an effort to have more tamales in my life. With the down time, we were able to explore more of the little pockets of San Cristobal on our morning runs. Our forested campground, definitely felt like home for a while.

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We met a number of overlander’s while we were in San Cristobal, who are also travelling to Argentina. Overlanders in general seem to be really organized, responsible people. It’s funny somehow that the name also applies to us. I sometimes feel like an imposter in the van, while they all drive reliable 4WD’s. Nevertheless, it was the first time we’d met a group of people doing the same thing as us. They were all super friendly, generous and interesting people. Although we have to start moving as quickly as the van will allow, we hope to see them all again.