Thumper…

January 9, 2019

Day 11 – Palenque

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 9:54 pm
Tags: , , , ,

1 July, 2018.

Palenque is pronounced pal en k.

The ruins rise from the jungle, Palenque

The ruins rise from the jungle, Palenque

If you can picture a brilliant blue sky with the odd whispy white cloud, bright green forest contrasting with the lighter green of the thick lush grass and the sun beating down mixed with high humidity, you have the setting for the Palenque ruins. The thick grass provides a soft cushion underfoot and the shade of the taller trees provides relief from the heat – and it’s only 8am. The ruins of the Mayan city Lakamha, nor far from Palenque, is where we are headed today.

The different temples in the area, Palenque Ruins

The different temples in the area, Palenque Ruins

These weren’t as excavated as others we have seen so far, but underneath, surveyed but not yet restored or even unearthed, is a town big enough for around 100,000 people. The ruins, hidden for thousands of years by the dense jungle, now rise from that cleared jungle, revealing secrets of a long gone dynasty, a people who were capable of building giant complex structures, but somehow incapable of carrying on their way of life. There was the kings tomb, a massive structure built to house his body, the kings palace and a number of temples. The kings palace was a complex structure that included toilets, running water and sewage systems, galleries, bedrooms, courtyards and its own observatory. They are working on restoring more of it.

Restoration works, Kings Palace, Palenque Ruins

Restoration works, Kings Palace, Palenque Ruins

There are three temples that have been restored, the temple of the sun, the temple of the cross and the temple of foliage. It’s believed that these structures of Lakamha were built around 226BC and abandoned possibly in the 700’s.

Temple of the Cross, Palenque Ruins

Temple of the Cross, Palenque Ruins

The mayans believed that corn was a god, and as well as dedicating a temple to it, royalty babies also had their skulls squashed and elongated to make them look like heads of corn. Normally rubber bands are used to do this.

Another area they had restored was a ball court for a game played with a rubber ball. The rules for this city where the loses got decapitated. Definitely an incentive to play and win.

Ballcourt area, Palenque Ruins

Ballcourt area, Palenque Ruins

The walk from the ruins area to the museum was a well made path through the jungle, which was just like our rain forest. There were some interesting waterfalls along the way, some other man made structures from the mayan era and occasionally some wildlife – although I think they were all hiding because it was too hot!

In the afternoon we went to Roberto Barrios waterfalls. These were a series of cascades, with limestone rocks and green water flowing over the different levels. The water was lovely and cool on this hot day and we were able to navigate this waterfall by climbing down it, sliding down it in places and swimming in the pools. There are even ropes there to help you do this. If getting in the waterfall doesn’t appeal, there’s also paths alongside the falls to take so you can get to the bottom. Even though it didn’t feel it, the water was actually quite strong. There was one place I stood under one of the cascades in the waterfall and it wasn’t a nice gentle stream like I thought it would be!

A series of cascades, Roberto Barrios Falls, Palenque

A series of cascades, Roberto Barrios Falls, Palenque

The only thing I can think of that comes close to being similar to these falls are the Tad Sea Waterfalls in Laos near Luang Prabang. That too was excellent and not to be missed.

The waterfall wasn’t very crowded even though it was Sunday, perhaps because it was election day in Mexico. Hanging out at, and in, the waterfalls was probably one of the best times of the trip.

Roberto Barrios Falls, Palenque

Roberto Barrios Falls, Palenque

After a nice relaxing time, we headed back to the hotel, a spot of food shopping for lunch the next day at a supermarket (chedraui) that was a big department store crossed with a big supermarket. Whatever you wanted you could get – almost! No soft cushy world cup themed thing, but plenty of world cup donuts and cup cakes in Mexcican colours, plenty of good looking baked goods (uncovered and having the odd blow fly land on them) and some very odd things. Odd to us anyway – chicken feet, cactus leaves and plenty of different types of herbs.

Chicken feet

Chicken feet

From there we headed to the central park (Parque Central) where we had something to eat at a little street side café in the park, then finished it off with some hand made ice creams at the shop next door. Not sure of the name of this place, but head to the park and it’s on the 1a ote nte – at the back of the square/park area. There’s also some good souvenir shops in this area, especially on Central Pte (I picked up a Mexican blanket). Don’t miss the Burger King in that street – we didn’t eat there, but I did visit there. Just like here, they have good toilets…

Choice of ice creams, Central Park, Palenque

Choice of ice creams, Central Park, Palenque

One strange shop that I noticed took me back in time – but not because I ever remember something like this. A dimly lit shop with a person at the front desk and one other customer caught my eye. The sign above the shop said “Trunk Calls”. I’m like trunk calls…. The shop was filled with phones – probably a dozen or so in their own little booths inside the shop – imagine an internet café except with phones instead of pcs. The one customer was up the back in his own booth chatting on the phone. It was one of those sights that I kind of shook my head and checked, double checked and then triple checked what I was seeing. I checked so much I didn’t even get a photo – it may have been too dark anyway.

The streets are quite safe at night, it’s nice and warm and very pleasant walking around these areas.

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