20.08.2012 - 22.08.2012
We left San Cristobal on Monday morning and had about a 6 hour drive to Palenque. We arrived late afternoon to a very hot and humid climate. We checked into our hotel and then found a rooftop bar where we all cooled off with a few beers. For dinner we headed to a nice local restaurant where I had enchiladas for dinner.
On Tuesday morning we set out for a day trip to visit the areas archeological site and some waterfalls. We started off at Palenque, a beautiful Mayan site located in the middle of the jungle. We hired an excellent local guide who lead us around the different areas explaining about the city, its rulers, religious ceremonies and the Mayan way of life. He really was a wealth of knowledge and was so passionate so I learnt a lot about the Mayans. We got to see inside the living quarters which even had toilets with running water and stone beds.
I asked about the end of the Mayan calendar which some people say when it ends on the 21st December 2012, the world will end. There really is no absolute proven theories but our guide believes that it might correspond with an astrological event with the alignment of the Milky Way. Nowhere in any of the Mayan literature that has been discovered does it talk about any disaster or end of the world, so I think we might all be safe. We did learn about the Mayan calendar which rotates in day cycles (Kins), then 20 day cycles (Unials), which then form 18 x Unial cycles (Tuns)which is kind of equivalent to the Gregorian year except there are 5 days left over. For the Mayans these days are unowned and is when bad things can occur. 20 Tun's then make a Ka'tun (7200 days) and finally 20 Ka'tun's make a Bak'tun (144000 days). The 21st December is just the end of the 13th Bak'tun and the end of the Mayan calendar. We also learnt about Mayan horoscopes and found out what we were and the characteristics of someone in that sign. I am Yax, which like my normal horoscope is a water sign and related to Mother Earth and the colour green.
The site contains lots of inscriptions which archeologists have been able to decipher to understand in-depth information on the Mayans that lived here like rulers names, birthdays, marriages, wars. The greatest ruler here was Pakal and was where the debatable frieze depicting him riding a rocket ship was discovered.
After exploring the beautiful site and climbing to the top of the temples for a great view across the jungle we headed to Misol-Ha. It is a huge waterfall that you could walk behind. We had a quick walk around the back of the fall before going for a refreshing swim in the lake below it. We then had lunch in a restaurant at the falls before returning to Palenque.
That night Alex and I had a wander to the new part of town where we had some margaritas before joining the rest of our group for dinner at the same restaurant as the previous night. I chose chimichangas which were nice but a little too greasy for my liking.
Next stop the Yucatan Peninsula and the White City of Merida!