Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Pakal was the MAN in these parts and ruled from his teens to his death at 81 years. He was a major builder and many of the exposed structures at Palenque were created during his reign. There is a very good museum dedicated to him and his era at the ruins visitor center. There are many likenesses of the man and quite a lot of written work about his life, in maya glyphs of coarse. It was only a few years ago, less than ten, that the the Maya written code was finally translated and there are many large steale or plaques covered with the history of this man. One other note, his likeness here is accurate and not stylized. Royal male children of the nobels had their heads deformed during the first months of their lives to identify them as royal. Sometimes the deformation worked without significant physical or mental problems - many more other times, well.....
The Palenque ruins are about 300 feet up the side of the mountains and look north across jungle lowlands - the relm of King Pakal around 700 AD thought to be the main man here. The area was surveyed extensively about a decade ago from the air with earth penetrating radar. It is a massive site with less than two percent explored. There is a a series of larger pyramids further up the mountain right behind and to the left of my pictures here. Our campsite was at the bottom of the ruins and about a 3 kilometers away and still within the city site. Water was plentiful and the temples and palaces had running potable water as well as a sewage system throughout. The stream that we followed through the jungle actually supplied water to a series of bath and stream houses via an aquaduct. Who knows what other kings and heros rest at Palenque - purhaps one even greater than Pakal.
Deb and I love this environment! It is hot, humid, lush and rich smelling, almost funky with a cross between decay and floral aromas. The light is quite different here a varies a lot between under the canopy and exposed to the sun. There are quite a few trails around the jungle ruin sites. Here a few photos of a walk following down a small stream. The air is quite silent save the far off voices of the howler monkeys - and our hair stands on end.
We arrived in the Palenque area on our way to Cozumel in Mid January so this series of posts are slightly out of order. This is jungle land and everything is big and dramatic. The ruins at Yaxchilan are right on the river and face Guatamala. They are large a very spread out and frankly difficult to photograph as the jungle still over-runs most of the site. They are still relatively inaccesable as one has to take a fast boat downriver for about an hour to get to them from the nearest road. Bonampak was only discovered about 60 years ago and until about ten years ago you had to fly in to view the most complete and undamaged frescos in the Mayan world. Consider these wall works are 1300 years old. The colours would be typical of the decore all over the Mayan world - it blew us away. If you are really interested ask us about the video of these frescos, we would be happy to show you them when we meet.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
We have been travelling in our motorhome for 6 months and planned to get out of it for a time while we scuba dived in Cozumel. Deborah's parents have been building what is supposed to be the last house they will ever live in, while living in their large motorhome. The problem is that constuction delays have pushed them from a fall occupancy to a spring one and while nice, the RV is not that comfortable during the periodic deep freezes in Alberta. They seemed quite happy to enjoy a month of lounging with us by the Caribbean Sea. Judge for yourself.
Friday, February 8, 2008
We think that the state of Chiapas has been the most interesting of our travels so far. When the majority of people you see from the very young to very old are wearing traditional aboriginal dress of many varieties you know you are infor a treat. This first series of photos shows us at the zocolo or town square. Note what we Deb is wearing at nine in the morning - and we are only a few miles from the Guatamala border.
This might be the best travelers beach anywhere. Zipolite (Zip-o-leet-eh) is near Puerto Angel on the Pacific Coast of Mexico about 6 hours south of Acapulco. It is about 1.5 km long and is lined with extremely inexpensive and rustic bars and resturants. Travellers of all ages and conuntries including Mexico come for the layed back attitude. Towards the north end it is clothing optional and towards the south much more traditional and somewhat mixed in between. The surf here can be deadly slamming the unsuspecting into the sand bottom and other days quite benign. We hung out here for about ten days and went in the water everyday except one, when the volunteer lifeguards posted a red warning flag. They literally pulled someone out of the water every 30 minutes or so with one poor UK traveller air medivaced home paralyzed from the neck down. If you play in the water heed the warnings as they are serious. The evening can be enjoyed eating excellent food drinking cheap drinks and dancing to a variety of live and recorded music. The ultimate chill-out place: sling your hammock under a beach palapa for 30 pesos - that's 3 dollars folks a room might be $15 and that's during the high Christmas season.