Palenque

After a wonderful sleep I woke to the sounds of the jungle at dawn. Birds and frogs plus a distant rooster. A little tapir was drinking in a stream outside my front door and then came the true wake up call, a troop of howler monkeys roaring as only they know how to, moving through the canopy above me. What a magnificent way to wake up – beats an alarm clock any day. My little hobbit Cabana is right on the edge of the jungle – far away from the noisy campground and entrance road attached to this lodge.

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Breakfast was an excellent omelet stuffed with local potatoes and cheese served with a black bean guacamole 🙂

Palenque is my favourite Mayan site so far. It was in its heyday from 300-900 AD and is an excellent example of the ingenuity and construction genius of the Classic period. Mayans are famous for arches and there is all but one type of Mayan arch present in this complex. Only 2% of the site is excavated – mounds covered with rubble and jungle vegetation are everywhere. The first temple we saw was temple 12 or temple of the skull.

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This was the temple of fame that housed a Mayan noblewoman in her sarcophagus – buried with jade and other precious articles. The temple next to hers is known by the name of the Temple of Inscriptions.

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The sarcophagus of what is thought to have been a king was found here after restorations began in 1949. The skeleton of the king was found, as well a magnificent jade finery mask and other artifacts indicating that this individual had a good grasp of geometry.

Our excellent local guide took us all through the restored temples. There are very few people here and it was easy to start to feel what the place was like in its heyday. Remains of homes were abundant, including a Mayan bathroom. The toilets were connected to underground drains which still function today. Even in the heaviest rains the site never floods. At the end of the visit I climbed the Temple of the sun to get a view of the entire complex. When you visit this place – and it should be on everyone’s list – be prepared for your rear end muscles to get a work out climbing up and down all those stairs.

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The lodge offers massages which a couple of us took advantage of when we returned. Nothing better for releasing sore calf and back muscles. A small group of us are chillin’ by the pool and resting up for tomorrow which is going to an excellent, albeit very long day. We leave at 6 on a road trip and boat ride to the ruins of  Yaxchilan and Bonampak.  These have the only surviving coloured frescos I know of from Mayan period. We are also headed into an Internet desert tomorrow for a couple of days – will try and get this off before we leave…… Hasta la vista!

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