Monday, December 1, 1997

I didn't get much sleep the night before, due to the Zapatista festivities. They blasted fireworks all night and while it was amusing for the first 30 minutes, it became quite annoying later on in the night.

I caught a bus to Palenque at 9:30 am and hoped to get some rest on the bus. The movie on the bus was a really bad Australian flick called "Murial's Wedding". The Mexican passengers seemed to enjoy it very much, and even applauded at the end. I spent most of my time looking out the window at the fantastic scenery and tiny villages along the way. Now I could see the poverty in Chiapas that hadn't been so evident before. Still, it had seemed much worse in Guatemala.

We pulled into Palenque at 3:00pm. It was too late to go to the ruins, so I checked into a hotel and went back to the busses to find out what my options were for going to Merida the next day. They weren't very good. I had promised myself I would not travel at night on this trip, but it appeared I had no choice if I wanted to see the ruins the next day. I bought a ticket for the next day- the 10:30pm bus that would arrive in Merida around sunrise on the 3rd.

With the rest of the day to kill, I had a look around town. Palenque isn't very big, and not entirely attractive, either. The guidebooks say it's more expensive than most cities in the state, but I did not find that to be true at all. One street vendor I met, Claudia, sold me some beautiful amber jewelry for much less than I had seen in San Cristobal. I became very infatuated with Claudia, and offered to bring her home with me, but she declined. Seems she feels an affinity for the Maya Queen and doesn't feel right leaving Palenque for more than a couple weeks at a time.

I hit the taco bar near the hotel and loaded up. They had the hottest sauce I had ever tried. My digestive system rudely reminded me the next day that it did not appreciate this kind of abuse. During dinner, I saw a couple of Swiss women who I had been running into for the past week. I had first met them on the hike up Pacaya, then on the boat at Lago Atitlan, then in San Cristobal, now here. They would be flying to Oaxaca the next day, so I guess this is where the gringo trail splits. I wished them farewell, then I wished I had 6 weeks in the region like they did.

No pictures today.

Continue to day 16.

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