Palenque

Palenque Travel Blog

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On the Wednesday we drove from Merida to Palenque, which basically took up the whole day. That night we just did the usual orientation walk, had dinner, and headed back to the hotel for bed. Some days are just travel days!

The reason we were in Palenque was to visit the Mayan ruins of the same name. Early Thursday morning we got a collectivo out to the ruins and were met by our guide for the day. We decided to do things a bit differently to a typical tour by first going through the jungle for a couple of hours to see some building ruins that are still as they were first discovered by Europeans.

We walked through the jungle and came across a few of the ruins embedded in the jungle side. They were all largely covered in dirt, with only small sections of outer wall that gave away that they were actually there. In fact the majority of the ruins in the jungle that have not been excavated are completely underground and you wouldn't know they were there if not for archeologists using technology to find them.

Not long into the walk the guide stopped us and pointed at a hole in the side of a small hill. I would never have even noticed the hole if he hadn't shown us. He said it was the entrance to a temple that was buried underneath the dirt. He handed me his torch and said I could go in, but to watch for bats. I thought he must have either been joking or that it wouldn't be a problem so I went up to the entrance. The hole was very small, so I had to put my feet in first and sort of slide down horizontally into the tiny room inside. It was a very small room, maybe 3m long x 2m wide x 1m high, with a corner going to the left. I slowly shifted myself down to the end and shone the torch around the corner. All you could see was a stairway going upwards but it was blocked by the covering dirt.

Then the bats started getting agitated. I hadn't even seen one at that point and suddenly there were like five or six of them flying around this tiny space making an awful shrieking sound. This basically scared the hell out of me. I clammered back to the entrance and they settled down. I saw a couple at the end of the room perched on the stone wall and managed to get a photo of them. Nick came in for a look but we didn't really like the whole bat thing so after he looked around the corner we got out.

After we got back in to the safe open air we kept on walking. Some of the big ruins were even growing big trees on top of them as they had collected so much dirt.

When we got to the end of the jungle trail we came out into an opening that was right smack in the middle of the Palenque ruins that had been meticulously cleared out into their original presence. It was great to go from the thick jungle with the tantalising hints of the ruins underneath and into a view of how it really looked when it was an actual Mayan city.

The guide took us around many of the major ruins and explained their significances and uses. They were quite big and at some you could walk through dark passageways inside them to get from one side to the other. The water for the city was fed through an impressive aqueduct carved out of the ground and forged with big stones.

When we had gone through the major uncovered ruins the guide let us roam around for ourselves for a while. There was a half hour walk we could take past some other ruins and into another part of the jungle that had a cool suspension walkway over the water flowing straight off a waterfall. I walked down that on my own and came out on the road not far from the entrance. Instead of going back up to there I went the other way where the museum was. I poked around in the museum for about half an hour before meeting the others back at the cafe next to it. The guide then picked us up and we went back to Palenque town with blaring Metallica coming out of his car speakers.
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Palenque
photo by: monky