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Archive for October 16th, 2009

Day 312 – 16th October 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on October 16, 2009

Friday – Palenque, Mexico

Brilliant day 🙂

Well, I was up early, nothing unusual there, but I was actually finished breakfast and on the road by 9am and heading to the ruins, which are about 8km away. This was because it was going to be stinking hot and humid, so this way I could be in and out by 2pm and be relaxing somewhere, maybe a bar 🙂 There were some nice little twisties to negotiate as we climbed a small hill, before I found a parking space and a local chap who would look after it for a modest 20P.

The actual ruins seemed to cover a large area and as I was in tourist mode, I paid for an English speaking guide to show me around.

The first view as I walked up the stairs was the palace through the trees, but the guide was taking me to a tree, a large and special tree which the Mayans worshipped.

Now, if you look closely at this tree it has 4 branches spaced around the trunk, on each level, and each branch is 90 degrees from each other, from above, if you looked down you would see the shape of a cross. That is why in a lot of the Mayan temples, there is a cross motif, this confused Cortez and the murdering Spanish as they were thinking of christ. Just past this tree set amongst lush green grass is the Pyramid of the Inscriptions, or Paquel’s tomb, inspiring stuff 🙂 This is one of the ones I came to see and although I cannot climb it, it is great to be actually here 🙂

Next to this is the temple of the Red Queen where you can walk inside and see a short way and spot another sarcophagus.

After this it is over to the palace area with the leaning tower where you can scramble up and down and over, there is a stone bed, very uncomfortable and some nice views of the surroundings.

In this building you see a lot of carvings and motifs with the letter T, this is supposed to represent tears and is a representative of the rain god, Chac. They also carved a lot of relief images into the stucco covering, a lot of which have been damaged by the rain, seepage and moss as this area is very tropical.

Just beyond the tower is an open arena surrounded by the palace sections and some info boards for you 🙂

From here we went past the hawkers to the Skull Temple, so called because it had a carving of a rabbit’s skull in the front, this was on the right hand side of the Red Queens temple and prior to walking through the jungle where my guide showed me some ruins that have not been touched yet, whether by choice or not I forgot to ask.

Now, one thing you need to watch out for is howler monkeys and black squirrels. We saw a squirrel grabbing a fruit from a spiny tree, it shot up the top of a tree afterwards and then started throwing stuff at us to warn us away 🙂 The tree it got the fruit from is highly protected, by nature, do not bump into this during your walk!!!

After getting out of the jungle, I ditched the guide, he was finished anyway and I headed back into the ruins and up to the Temple of the Cross, a bit further uphill via more hawkers and some steep steps.

These buildings can be climbed and I knackered myself out going up and down, the steps are killers, very tall and steep angles, but the views were great so well worth the effort 🙂

Then over to the next climb, this was smaller and a little bit less effort 🙂

After this, back down over the irrigation ditch, past the hawkers again. I wanted to buy a T-shirt, but they did not sell them inside, only artefacts, or replicas made in China, but the leatherwork had burnt in designs and motifs and lavishly coloured and I would have loved to have bought one, but it would no doubt disappear in Auzzie quarantine because of the material, bit of a bummer really as they looked fab! 🙂

I spotted Vincent at the top of the palace area, so went and said G’day, he is staying at a cheap resort next to the ruins. It was good to get a photo with myself for a change though 🙂 Then after that, one final photo of the pyramid amongst the jungle with no one in it 🙂

Just for something different, here are some tropical flowers for the ladies, and those blokes who think they are ladies 🙂

It was getting quite hot by now, so we went down to the museum a short distance away, parking and riding on cobblestones is a nightmare, especially at slow speed, but inside was quite a good selection of uncovered items from the site, although I believe a lot are in a Mexico City museum.

Now here is the whole reason for being here, well it was to see the original, but that is still at the bottom of the pyramid stairway, so here is a replica and there was an excellent video presentation of its discovery. It was quite an achievement to locate a filled in passageway from the top of the pyramid and excavate it to the bottom where the tomb of Paquel lay and within it the remains of his body plus a large amount of artefacts, including the jade mask. Read on for more info.

So, that took about 20 minutes and now it was the end of the tour and time for lunch, which we chose at a restaurant just down the road, this is after I scored a T-shirt of course 🙂 The food was OK, nothing special and after that it was time for me to head back to town and hopefully aircon! I was lucky, it had not been turned off but after a short while I went down to the pool to read a book and met up with a couple of Danish sheilas called Keren and Hady 🙂

After some chat and a few beers for me, tequila sunrise for them I noticed Hady doing an impression of a Chacmool, which is a stone carving at a temple in the north which I missed seeing, but had heard about it, it basically is an alter type sculpture with a small platform to hold the sacrifice, maybe a bleeding heart 😕 I ripped this photo from this site

After a few hours they left to get some dinner and get ready for a bus trip that night to Meridan, I ended up bumping into them at a resturaunt down the road so I joined them for dinner, quite fun 🙂 Safe trip girls and maybe see you in Cancun 🙂

It was not a late night as I needed to chalk up some distance tomorrow and I wanted to get to another site called Uxmal (Oosh – Mal) and see that before arriving in Chichen Itsa. Vincent was taking two days to get there so we may bump into each other again, probably 🙂

Day – 10 miles and 116 km
Trip – 40,443 miles and 65,087 km



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