Agua Azul and Misol-Ha Cascades

Palenque Travel Blog

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11.23.08    Agua Azul and Misol-Ha Cascades


Change of plans again!  I just couldn’t leave without seeing the waterfalls.  They are such a national treasure and we were so close that I would forever be regretting that decision.


So we left early this morning in hopes of heading 35 miles down the road, seeing the 2 waterfalls, and then returning back up to Palenque to shoot up to Campeche if there was time.  Of course that was a ridiculous expectation because the road to the falls was slow, mountainous and windy.  More on that in a second.


So we said goodbye to our dear friends at Mayabell’s.  Victor and Louise are headed to Campeche, so we may see them there, Tim and Terri were on a van tour to the same Falls, and we did see them there.  Art and Jillian were staying another day to see the Ruins. 


A very nice couple nearby, from Mexico City who we met yesterday, came by to offer their contact info so they could help us should we visit there.  She is the Vice-Director for the Department of Archeology for Mexico and I believe he does work with the Discovery Channel, having formerly been with the CBC.  I thought that was so nice of them; they said that Mexico City is a wonderful place to visit, but you’d best know where you can go with advice from people you trust.  We’re still undecided on visiting there but I appreciated their kind offer very much.


So we drove out of our campsite about 20 feet with our jeans still drying on the ladder on the back of the rig- everyone was laughing.  What an exit- Embarrassing!


Hwy 199 goes about 60 miles (not 35) down to Agua Azul during which it crosses through an area that is Zapista.  I knew this by the sign that indicated “Zapista Indepencia” and the very angry looks that we received to our smiles and waves.  There was just a short area that made us very uncomfortable.  Terri later told us back at the campground that their van driver had passed around a November 16th warning (one week ago) advising travelers not to go through those two towns.  O-K! 


Further, my Mexican friends warned me this morning about driving the road because they said that in 2 places, the road was washed away at the inside of a blind curve and they saw 2 accidents there yesterday in their jeep.  Yikes!  But he said that if I went slowly - could see it and stop in time - we’d be fine.  I did and we were.


In Terri & Tim’s van, the driver reportedly pulled up to the turnoff for their first stop called Clara Azul and said, “We have a little problem.  The Zantistas have taken over the Falls and it’s not really safe to go down there, but we can go if you want to.”  Well, of course nobody wanted to go, but the Italians, Spanish and French in their crowded van started to demand 50 pesos back (from the 150 pesos fee) and the driver acted as if he was going to turn around and everyone acquiesced, but then the driver really put on the speed and squealed wheels in a way that was less than comfortable on the way to Agua Azul. 


Meanwhile, we’re headed down Highway 199 that eventually goes to San Cristobal.  I knew that some sections of the road are supposed to be not good, but thought we’d be close enough to Palenque.  And we were.  We were just fine. 


But we did have a couple of aggressive sellers at the topes where they used a little kid to pull a rope across the tope and then were insistent until we bought some Mayan cornbread, which Terri later identified for us.  Alrighty! 


Another whole town it seemed did the same with the rope, but it turned out to be, in addition to selling food items, the entrance ticket to Agua Azul.  You’d think they could be more organized in the ticket sales than that- I almost drove right through it, to be honest.  But then we figured out it was for the ticket and paid for it, gave the kids miniature Hershey’s, and everything was grand. 


On the way back, the third and final rope was pulled across the tope for a church fundraiser or something and I gladly donated to their 2 cans and raised my fist in solidarity and cheered (which I’d read about somewhere before) and they all cheered back, so all was good.  Having a sense of humor definitely helps, as I also learned with the parking guy for Agua Azul, which I negotiated from 40 pesos to 20 because of the ninos and then gave both guys a Hershey’s too.


With all the excitement of the drive, I almost forgot to mention the Falls.  They were gorgeous!  And in spite of the bad notes on the place (armed robberies for overnighters, kids demanding pesos to “watch your rig” and bad things happening if you refuse, theft, etc), we encountered none of that on this active Sunday afternoon.  We had a good time- the Agua Azul Falls are absolutely incredible!  There must be 25 different waterfalls, some of which are enormous. 


There were people there from all over the world.  Charles practices his Spanish best when he is buying food, and Jazy with clothes, and so they got us all set up.  Jazy got a stunning green dress (120 NP) and earrings (35 NP).  Charles bought queso and pollo empaladas (5 for 10 pesos) that were hot off the griddle.  Lia got to swim in the beautiful water and swing off a tree onto a rope over the water.  I got a beautiful blue mayan purse bag for 70 pesos.  Great fun!


We saw Terri and Tim there and offered them a ride back with us.  They’d already been to Misol-Ha and we were stopping there.  But I’d have felt better with them with us and we were more than willing to wait while they found their van driver and retrieved their shoes.  Alas, van driver was taking a siesta and so they sent us on our way.  It actually took them 2 more hours before their driver was ready to leave. 


Misol-Ha Cascade was delightful and full of tourists and Mexican families.  The people working there were very nice and I enjoyed practicing my Spanish with them, which I think is almost fluent.  Not!  But we had fun.  The Falls there were so tall and you can walk right under them - the overlying rock is covered in lush ferns.  The kids enjoyed getting wet from the spray.  Beautiful!  We were so glad we saw the Falls today.


So we headed back to the delightful Mayabell’s and reclaimed our spot.  We arrived back at 3:56 pm.  Terri and Tim arrived back right on time at 4 pm, having been hit from behind by another van when their driver successfully avoided hitting a dog.  On the way there, a little toddler stepped right in front of their van and they narrowly missed hitting her!  I think they were tired by the time they got back.


We stopped first at Pemex and I enchanted the poor guys filling the tank with my Espanol.  While they took Visa, the gals inside did not for our la leche and junk food.  We’re now headed over to the excellent food at Mayabell’s for dinner.  We didn’t hear howler monkeys much last night, but I’m hoping we can enjoy them tonight.  It is a beautiful day in lovely Mexico!


Off to dinner!  Whoo-hooo!


Update:  Terrific time visiting with Art and Jillian (from Victoria) during dinner.  They come down every year for 5 months in the winter to Mexico.  They tour a different part of Mexico each year and then settle in to an RV park in Zihautenago along the beach just north of Acapulco.  This is their 5th winter there and they know many people.  Fun time!



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photo by: monky