Ben and Kirsteen's World Trip 2005/6 travel blog

A tasteful carving

K with Palenque behind

Most of the group having a rest from the heat

A picture to show the typical roof detail

Group dinner at the Italian jungle restaurant

A night-time visitor (note the shining eyes)

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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Leaf cutter ants doing their thing


K: Palenque is in the jungle and it is hot, humid and full of beasties! However, we were armed with multiple cans of DEET! We were staying in this little place just outside of the ruins and it wasn't basic, it was just a bit cut off i.e. no internet.

But it had good live bands every evening, if we weren't too tired to stay up, plus we got to stay in a little jungle hut complete with badly fitting corrugated iron roofs that made a deafening noise when in rained (which it did every night).

The day we headed off into Palenque ruins - we got away with out paying the unofficial (and illegal) entry fee to the armed men because they had no tickets left (shame), which was a good start to the day. Our guide also turned out to be a vison in a blue safari suit - he was very knowledgeable though about the whole area. He told us about the history of Palenque and how we should imagine the ruins we see, not a white limestone, but as they were painted in a vibrant red colour with blue bits on top - it must have looked amazing back then because it looked pretty impressive in it's ruined state.

He also told us about Pakal the Great, basically the space man king - so called because the carving on his sarcophagus looks like he is sitting in a space ship but he is really being reborn as a god (to do with maize). Still, it looks pretty cool. Anyway, Pakal the Great reined for 69 years which is a pretty amazing feet considering most Mayans would be considered old at 30.

B: By now you should know that, being larger than the average bear, I don't suffer humidity too well. Palenque is deep in the jungle and the weather alternates being sunny (hot and humid) and thunderstorms (wet and humid). Throw in every possible type of bug and the possibility of malaria and it makes my ideal destination.

On our trip to the ruins was in the morning and it was already too hot. After about two hours I had to sit down in the shade and not move for a while. K helpfully suggested climbing a pyramid to enjoy the view. I declined.

The huts we stayed in had mesh for windows so you could hear the howling monkeys in the morning (the loudest creature on land). During thunderstorms, the spiders would retreat inside our room for shelter and we had one particularly large specimen on the second night. If you put a torch between your eyes shining in the direction you're looking, you can see all the spiders' eyes glowing green. I tried in the jungle at night and there were a lot of green eyes staring back! Good job neither of us are scared of them.

All around the paths, we saw leaves walking around. On closer inspection, it turned out to be leaf-cutter ants with their cutting spoils marching in lines between trees and home. I found these fascinating and watched them at work for ages.

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