The Journal  

10 December 2005


Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Palenque , Chiapas . Mexico

November 28-29

From San Cristobal de las Casas, it is about 100 miles along the Pan-American highway to the Guatemalan border but we turned north, heading into Mexico 's Yucatán peninsula.

We had began to use bus schedules to plan our day, looking at a route between cities that we were traveling to and seeing how long it said the bus ride was. When a schedule says that a 120 mile route takes five hours you know that you're in for a treat.

American riders wax poetic about a 10 mile section of curvy roads. The ride from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque was 120 miles of continual hairpin turns, an exhausting, but exhilarating day's ride that took us back from the mountains down to 500 feet above sea level into steamy and green jungle. The road was nearly empty and we made good time to our hotel near the ruins.

The ancient city of Palenque was built where the rolling hills meet the Yucatán plain. In many ways, they felt like our first real ruins. Palenque is tucked in the jungle on the edge of the Chiapas state, many of its buildings still overgrown and hidden by vegetation. You're given access to most of the buildings and you can climb on them and crawl into the dark passages and find yourself in the company of bats. From the tops of the temples, you can see for miles of nothing but jungle.

  The ruins at Palenque , viewed from the Templo de la Cruz, rise out of the jungle where even in the morning hours you cannot escape the humid air.

The Templo de la Cruz, or Temple of the Cross.

  The Templo del Bello Relieve is tucked away in the southern end of the ruins. We crawled down into the funeral chamber that was slick and muddy from the sweating rocks.

  The Lonely Planet guide refers to them as hawkers and they are at every ruins site. Vendors sell handcrafts that may or may not have been made by them. Wooden masks, Mayan calendars, bracelets, dolls all for a "good price." The vendors set up shop along the walking paths through the ruins as soon as the site opens.

  El Baño de la Reina, the Queen's Bath , where bathing is not permitted anymore, much to Jeremiah's disappointment.

  Wild bananas. Not quite ripe yet, but tempting to pick.

  Using a giant leaf to camouflage herself, Holly sneaks through the jungle in Palenque . Photo by Jeremiah.

  This calico cat had been hounding us every time we went to eat at the restaurant at the campground we stayed at. Here he jumped into Jeremiah's lap and stared as he ate each bite of his papas fritas (french fries).

All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus