13 - MEXICO
Palenque - 24/12/03 - 27/12/03
Next day we woke up to Xmas Eve! It was boiling hot and leaving Tuxtla was like trying to drive down Oxford Street on Xmas Eve. Everyone doing their last minute shopping just like home.
The road to San Cristobal climbed up and up endlessly. We came across a little town snuggled in to the top of a ring of mountains next to an almost perfectly round lake. We looked down on it from the road and it was like some idyllic film set.
I'm sure it wasn't from close up. It was bloody cold up there and the people we were passing looked like they live a pretty hard life. We were in amongst the indigenous population for the first time and this is the poorest state in Mexico.
The road to Palenque went through lots of little villages and there were lots of people on the road. The local transport is small covered pick-ups which stop with no warning at all and have about a hundred people hanging out the back.
We approached one corner and there was a coach and a few pick-ups parked up. As we went round we saw why. A huge lorry had taken the corner a little too tight and the back wheel had gone off the road. As with most Mexican roads there was about a three foot ditch which he couldn't get out of. Nothing could get through except us, ha ha. There was a big crowd from all the transport that was stuck. Don't know what time anyone got where they were supposed to be going that night.
That lorry was in a bit of a tight spot!
We arrived in Palenque and rode around for a bit trying to find a hotel with a bath instead of shower. No luck, there are no baths in Palenque. Last bath was in Las Vegas! It would have been a really nice Xmas present.
Xmas Day was weird. To start with we had a lie in, unheard of for Xmas. We then managed to talk to our families on the computer. Couldn't get the camera's working with mine but had a long chat.
Richard's family were all together and all popped in to say hello in their obligatory Christmas Day paper hats!
It was good to be able to speak to everyone but it made us miss home even more. Ever since we were traveling in Oz we have wondered what it would be like to have a Xmas away. Pretty odd really we decided. We certainly won't choose to do it again.
Christmas is a big thing in Mexico, lots of decorations, trees, nativity scenes, Santa’s and parades. We certainly weren't lacking in Xmas spirit but being a thoroughly irreligious pair it didn't mean much to us. Xmas is family and friends and we couldn't see them.
We spent the afternoon at the Palenque ruins which were surprisingly busy. We were just looking at all these people and wondering why they would choose to take these two weeks away.
Boxing day we spent back at Palenque and it was massively busy, loads of coaches. The day before we'd been allowed to leave the bike right by the entrance completely out of the way. This time a bit of a job's worth type wouldn't let us, so we had to find somewhere safe in the car park area which was mad. One guy sent us up a little road which was covered in really slippy mud. R then had to try and turn round to get out, not fun. A car was coming up behind us and didn't want to reverse. We then got put right on the end where all the coaches were turning round which we didn't like so we waited for another spot further in. The car park guys were washing cars and couldn't understand why we didn't want the bike washed! We eventually got away and climbed straight up a pyramid to get away from everyone. We sat there for about an hour before we felt ready to take anything in.
Temple of the Inscriptions
Palenque is really beautiful, surrounded by the jungle. You can see how it got lost so easily.
It's a pity we seemed to be there on two of the busiest days of the year!
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