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Journal - 22-Mar-2001, Thursday, Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico
(Trip: Ruta Maya, Southeast Mexico)

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Click for larger image! Palenque palace. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,merida,musuem
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Click for larger image! Templo del Sol. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chiapas,ruins,maya,maya bell,jungle,palenque,merida,musuem
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Palenque palace
Templo del Sol
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We arrive at Palenque ruins shortly before opening time at 8 am. We want to get a few visitor-free pictures before the crowds arrive.

The sky is a beautiful color, with a few clouds dotting a deep blue sky. The morning light illuminates the buildings with long shadows, bringing out textures. I rush madly from vantage point to vantage point snapping away before people start clambering over the beautiful stonework.

Around 11, after taking some great pictures, we give up and go to seek permission to visit the tomb. The administration offices are at the museum, a 400 meter walk away. On the path, Monica spots a perched toucan not 3 meters from us. The bright yellow beak flashes like a beacon as it flies off in front of our eyes.

Our efforts to the see the tomb of Pakal are frustrated - apparently 'the person' who issues the permissions is not at work today. This is typical Mexican bureaucracy - only one person has authorization to do a particular job, and that person only shows up when they feel like it.

We take some refreshments in the museum café, then look around. The museum has some fantastically well preserved relics.

Returning to the campsite, the sun is gloriously shining down on us - a change to the overcast weather of a few days ago. We empty our damp-smelling backpacks to air everything out and take the opportunity to wash our clothes.

The heat is pouring down, so I find myself a nice spot in the shade. After a while, Monica appears carrying a huge water melon - just the thing to combat the sun! They're selling them at the campsite entrance for 80 cents each - a bargain! We cut some huge slices for ourselves and share the rest with our fellow campers.

In the afternoon, we return to the ruins to get some more good shots in this great weather. We arrive at the park an hour before closing and move swiftly around, snapping away. A small group of people are stretched out on the roof of a temple - right where I want to photograph! Sometimes I think there should be a rule against staying more than 5 minutes in any one place when visiting sites of photographic interest! In the end I have to wait till closing time, when everyone is shooed off, before taking a couple of shots.

The last combi to Palenque leaves around 6 pm. This gives us only 30 minutes or so to break camp, and head into town to take the bus to Mérida - our next stop. Relying on the information provided by our Swiss friends from yesterday, the bus to Mérida leaves at 21:00.

Somehow we succeed in packing everything up in time, and catch a combi just after 6 pm. At the bus station, we meet the Swiss couple. They are taking the same bus to Mérida. Monica chats and chats with the women, eventually receiving an offer to use the couple's Swiss Alps chalet, whenever we feel the urge!

Interesting how people seem to drop their normal barriers when traveling, and make close friends with anyone they meet. Perhaps friendship is more highly desired in a foreign environment. Of course, if we showed up on their familiar doorstep one day, they'd surely wonder why they ever offered their holiday home to a pair of perfect strangers!

The bus sets of, on schedule, at 9 pm. It's not particularly comfortable and we're kept wide awake for most of the journey.

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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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