Panama to Alaska 2008 travel blog


sleeping on the job

fish soup


beer truck

Tabasco is covered in Topes and we have driven over every one of them. A 7.30 start from our hotel and we followed the coast road out of town and through a string of small fishing harbours in a generally run down part of town. Then off into the hills – well at one point we did reach an altitude of 45m above sea level which is higher than we have been since Belize City. However we soon fell back to the coastal plain and then followed a narrow spit of land between the Gulf of Mexico and the lagoon. Today’s altitude trace, whilst not beating the dramatic mountain drives of Guatemala, was notable. After a rather disappointing drink stop at Carmen, our last point on the Gulf, we headed south into the state of Tabasco. The route was, as usual, well chosen. Avoiding the major roads we picked our way through small villages through the Biosfera Pantanos de Centla, wildlife park, alongside the broad river Usumacinta. Each village seemed to have approximately 500 ‘topes’ and typically they are 5 3/4 inches high (as opposed to the 6 inches ground clearance we have). However, in the national park, Darwinian development of the Tope has led to a great variety of new sub species including the ‘double dipper’ where the road descends first then rises to dizzy heights before descending below sea level once more and returning to normal height – all in the space of 4 feet travelled. I am not sure that all the subtle detail is recorded on our satellite positioning system, but 100 villages with 500 topes each and an altitude change of say 150cm each must add up to a vertical kilometre – giving a fair run for its money to a Guatemalan foothill, at least. Then if you add on the extra few feet for that bridge where I took off into mid air.....

Other highlights of the day (no pun intended) included a great fish soup for lunch at a little thatched restaurant that and seeing a large flock of storks – memories of Strasbourg. Also the vibrant green of the long-tailed lizards that scuttled across the road and some large pink birds as yet unidentified – but we have a photo.

Our hotel here in Palenque is built into the forest with nature all around us, but hopefully not too much of it in the bedroom. Mayan ruins down the road will be visited tomorrow morning after breakfast before setting off into some proper hills again. Bye for now.

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