Page 8: Palenque, February 12 and
When we arrived in Palenque a little before
noon, we decided to stay in the city rather than out near the
ruins. We needed internet, laundry, and information about security
issues on the routes we're considering all of which would
more likely be available in town than at El Panchan, which might
have been a sea of mud after all the rain. Palenque town was more
agreeable than our guidebook led us to expect. Sure, it was busy
and a little noisy, but it seemed less depressing than Escarcega
and Balancan. The cheap place where we decided to stay, Posada
Shalom, wasn't bad either.
The most striking thing about Palenque, strictly
from a cyclist's point of view, was that we had come to the end
of the easier riding. Below is the view out our window. The moutains
look ominous, and the clouds and rain don't improve them!
If our stay in Palenque started
out dismally because of the persistent rain, it certainly improved
on Sunday when we went to the ruins. We'd been there a few years
earlier, but we were amazed again by how beautiful they were,
even in the continuing drizzle. Below left, the Temple of the
Inscriptions, so named because tablets inscribed with Mayan glyphs
were found there by archaeologists. On the right below is another
striking building at Palenque, the Temple of the Cross. (No implications
of Christianity in that name!) This building is one of the highest
in the ancient city and was of great religious significance.
Below is the view from the top
of the Temple of the cross. The building with the tower on the
right is the Palace, home of the royal family and an administrative
It's not only the ruins that make
such an impact. Palenque is a full-blown National Park, and if
the ruins were to vanish overnight, it would still be a gorgeous
botanical garden, with meticulously groomed paths through the
jungle, magnificent trees, and lush plants of all sorts. Some
of the paths lead to "suburbs" that have not been reconstructed.
The walls of ancient buildings seem to rise organically out of
There is water everywhere in the
park, and some of the most photogenic waterfalls we've ever seen.
The falls below are called The Queen's Bath, on the small Rio
Murcielago, which means the Bat River.
There is also an excellent museum
at the ruins, really one of the best we've ever been to. All the
exhibits are well displayed, clearly organized, and accompanied
by informative text in both Spanish and English. Below left is
just one of many remarkably well-preserved stuccos, this one depicting
a warrior or king, we don't remember which. He is identified,
we believe, in the glyphs to his right. Below right are more Mayan
glyphs. It seems to be an interesting written language. As we
understand it, each glyph represents a syllable.
To the right is one of many censers
displayed in the museum. They were used to burn religious
offerings, typically herbs mixed with blood. We were pleased
to hear that the blood didn't necessarily come from human
sacrifices. Rather, the Mayans used some sort of quill
to draw blood for these ceremonies. Of course, they apparently
had human sacrifices as well though probably not
to the same bloody degree as the Aztecs and Toltecs. At
least that's what one modern Mayan guide told us.
Late in the afternoon we returned
to Palenque City. A couple of street scenes are below.
We were up at 5:00 a.m. on the
morning of the 14th, outside lubing the bikes at 6:00, and well
out of the city by 7:00 a.m., on our way to the Carretera Fronteriza.
| 2 | 3
| 4 | 5
| 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12