Friday, 4 May 2012

Chilling in Campeche and Misty Palenque Ruins

After the tiring, and somewhat hair raising, day it took us to get to Campeche it was decided that we needed a day off, so we spent the day exploring the market, lingering over proper coffee in a real café, strolling along the ‘malecón’ boulevard, and venturing into WalMart, Mexican style. 

Refreshed after our relax day, the next day we were back on the road and we caught another ADO bus to Palenque, a mere 5 hours away.  We’d decided against the Lonely Planet’s advice of staying in the jungle huts which are closer to the Palenque ruins, and instead found a room in town at the Hotel Kashlan.  This turned out to be a good decision as 5 minutes after we checked in the skies opened up and it poured for the next couple of hours.  Most reviews of the jungle huts had said that they leaked…

We decided on a ‘Menu del Dia’ for dinner since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and for less than $5 we enjoyed a feast that included our first Corona beers in Mexico – tasted good washing down corn chips and salsa!
We emerged bleary eyed at 6.30am to get to Palenque early, but unfortunately when we stopped at the nearby supermarket to buy water Dave slipped on the wet concrete ramp and landed directly on his camera – it broke his fall, and it also broke.  So we detoured back to our hotel to assess the damage, which thankfully turned out to have sounded and look worse than it was.  The plastic around the lens had cracked, but the lens itself was ok and the camera could still focus.  Relieved that the outcome was better than it could’ve been we caught a collective to the Palenque ruins, arriving at 9am (so much for our early start) with busloads of other tourists.

Misty Palenque
However, our main aim for getting to Palenque early was not just the avoidance of other tourists, but to see  the ruins covered in the morning cloud.  Thankfully the clouds were still low and they remained so until 10am.  It is definitely worth getting there to see the ancient ruins surrounded by mist, set in the jungle with howler monkeys calling in the near distance, it's a spectacular setting.  We even managed to see a toucan as we entered (pointed out to us by a local who then expected a tip for his find….)

Only 10% of the ruins at Palenque have been uncovered, but that 10% took all morning to explore.  Afterwards we spent the arvo exploring Palenque town, which doesn’t take as long (we tried a great random drink – Horchata – which is essentially ground up roasted corn with a variety of spices made into a milkshake - it might not sound that appealing, but trust us, it’s good!).  Since the town's small we had finally had some spare time to make use of the internet.  


The beautiful stream running through the ruins
At 9pm we were meant to board on overnight bus to Tulum, which eventually showed up at 10.30pm.  In the meantime for entertainment a drunk driver collided with the median strip directly in front of the bus station, narrowly missing a pedestrian standing on it and blowing both front tyres from the impact with the curb.  He tried very hard to reverse off but was unable to get away before the police arrived and promptly arrested both him and his passenger who were so intoxicated they couldn’t walk straight…. It was just the beginning of what was one of the worst overnight buses we’ve taken.  (Suffice it to say we used almost half of our Vick’s bottle as we had to reapply frequently thanks to a combo of the toilet, baby vomit, baby nappies and strange half eaten food discarded in the aisle, added to this the gigantic Russian girl sitting behind Dave absolutely refused to let him recline his seat and whenever he tried she just bashed it until he gave up and sat up again). It was a long night!

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