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Journal - 21-Mar-2001, Wednesday, Lancandón community, San Javier, Chiapas, Mexico
(Trip: Ruta Maya, Southeast Mexico)

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Click for larger image! Regal forest tree. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,lacandon,lacandona,indigenous,long shirt,white,shirt,indian,waterfall,river
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Click for larger image! Don't lose the path. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,lacandon,lacandona,indigenous,long shirt,white,shirt,indian,waterfall,river
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Regal forest tree
Don't lose the path
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Click for larger image! 'Lost' Mayan ruins. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,lacandon,lacandona,indigenous,long shirt,white,shirt,indian,waterfall,river
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Click for larger image! Guardian of the forest. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,lacandon,lacandona,indigenous,long shirt,white,shirt,indian,waterfall,river
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'Lost' Mayan ruins
Guardian of the forest
Send to a friend! Send to a friend!

Awaking from a solid nights sleep, it turns out we both dreamt it was christmas and snowing. I guess it's colder than we've become used to.

We wash as best we can on the river bank. Neither of us is about to brave the cold water at this hour!

After breakfast, we wait for our Lacandón guide who will take us on a 4 hour walk through the jungle. A man, dressed in traditional white shirt and sandals, appears. He's walking at a fast pace. He keeps walking as he smiles at us and says "Vamonos" ("Let's go") with a point of his machete. The group, startled at the abrupt introduction, hurries to catch up.

The 'jungle walk' feels more like a 'jungle march' as our guide tears along the path as if he's late for an appointment. Doesn't look I'll be taking many photos.

The sights, smells, and sounds of the jungle are magical as we trek along paths, across slippery tree trunk bridges, and up and down steep banks. We pass a sleeping wild butterfly with a wingspan of about 15 cm (the size of man's hand!).

The guide stops occasionally to hack a piece out of a tree or bush to demonstrate its useful properties. I wonder how 'eco-friendly' the practice is as we walk past trees scarred from previous tours!

After an hour we arrive at a small Mayan building with a huge tree growing on the roof and surrounded by thick vegetation. It is almost mystical to come across an ancient building in this concealed state - like re-discovering a lost temple. The temple is in quite good condition, with some original paint still visible.

The guide offers to take us to some other, larger, ruins in exchange for a tip. Tantalized, we accept.

The next ruins are indeed larger. Scattered all around are carved stones with Mayan glyphs, etc. The mystery of the Maya's demise becomes more poignant as one walks around discarded stone manuscripts and other remnants of a once advanced and knowledgeable society.

Walking on, unusual sounds surround us. Every few minutes there is a call sounding something like a whistle blown underwater. The guide says it's a bird. We'd probably never have guessed.

After half an hour or so, we arrive at a waterfall with a pool for swimming. Feeling a little chilly in the morning, we didn't bother bringing bathing clothes. Now, feeling hot and sweaty, we regret our decision. Monica rolls up her trousers and wades around while the French guys don shorts and dive in.

The walk back crosses a couple of rivers. Misjudging the depth of one of the rivers, I didn't bother taking off my boots and so end up with two squelching wet feet! I'm not too bothered because I'm kind of curious to know the drying time for my boots in any case. Squelch, squelch, squelch.

Arriving back at the Lacandona community, we are given the opportunity to buy some arts and crafts. Monica, as ever, is tempted but weight considerations reign.

Lunch is served and we wait for 16:00, when we'll drive out to meet the tour vans for the return to Palenque. Time is passed talking with the retired Swiss couple. This is their second trip to Mexico and they've been bussing around independently like us. Brave folks!

The drive to the rendez-vous point is at a calmer pace than yesterday. Our driver, the owner of the center, says the tour vans always arrive late.

He's right. As we stand around waiting, we chat about his business - now in its 21st year! He feels a bit abused by the tour companies - that they don't pay him enough to improve the facilities, etc.

The tour vans (three of them) arrive only 30 minutes later. This time we have no police escort. Let's hope the bandits don't go for the motherload of three packed tourist vans.

Arriving in Palenque, we're the last to be dropped off. We chat with the driver about the tour. Predictably, he feels that the Lacandón are paid well. He does acknowledge the need to improve the facilities. However, he explains that as the site is used by several tour companies, it's difficult for his company to assist directly.

It's dark by the time we're dropped at the campsite. As we set up the tent I manage, by a freak combination of my flip-flop falling off and losing my balance, to tread on a tent peg. The pain is horrible as the star shaped head of the peg gouges the sole of my foot. Looking at the resulting wound I suddenly recall how I obtained a similar cut on our last trip. Damn flip-flops! Fortunately the hole is only skin deep, and more a nuisance than a problem.

Continuing with the tent, Monica spots something scurrying in the darkness. A small white animal, looking something like a guinea pig, approaches us. It seems to be accustomed to humans, and hence ignores us. I wonder if it's really a wild animal or an escaped pet. It's soooo cute!

Tired after the day's activities, we promptly fall asleep to the noise of the jungle.

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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