Most of the U.S. went on early daylight saving time this weekend. Here in Mexico, we will remain on our old time most likely until we get back to the U.S.
After a night of heavy rain, the RV Park is pretty muddy this morning and it is already hot and steamy; but, we'll be gone for several hours as we are all car-pooling to Palenque. It is believed the name originates from Palemke, City of the Priests, and the beautiful city flourished from the 4th to the 8th Century A.D.
This ruins site was very different from the others we've seen in that it is set in a deep, lush jungle. The buildings are surrounded by a backdrop of green hills and we can only imagine how impressive and colorful it must have looked during its peak era.
We had a guide and he pointed out some of the jungle growth; including, mahogany trees, cedar trees, orchids, avocado, and almond trees. Of course, his dialog was interspersed with the usual tales of blood-letting, human sacrifices, and other gore; way too graphic for me.
Even though this is a gigantic site, spreading over some 15 sq. km, a very small percentage has been excavated making it possible to capture the magnificent buildings in not much more than a single glance.
The Temple of the Inscriptions is a burial monument and the tallest building on the site. The mystical hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls give the temple its name. Only a small fraction of the glyphs have been translated as legend relates a Catholic Priest destroyed the translation documents. In 1952, archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier discovered a sealed passageway leading to a burial chamber containing the skeleton of the king, Pakal, wearing a mosaic jade death mask. To the Mayans, jade was more valuable than gold and our guide told us they bartered for jade with chocolate. He also told us it was common practice to kill servants to go with their masters to the afterlife. A piece of jade inserted in the servant's mouth was his ticket to the next life. Of course, we didn't see the jade mask as it's in Mexico City. The tomb of Ruz Lhuillier lies under a tree on the site, controversial to some who feel he should have been buried outside the site.
The Palace was a massive structure and likely the residence of the rulers, royalty and priests. A large tower sits atop and is believed to have been used for astronomy purposes and observing the solstices. Our guide also pointed out the subterranean toilets and the location of steam baths. Other temples and the usual Ball Court occupied the site. This jungle is also home to howler monkeys and we could hear them as we walked around the complex.
A short drive, or long walk, away from the ruins site, was the museum. This was very well done with displays of finds from the site. Interpretive signs were in both Spanish & English. It didn't take long to go through it and it was very, very informative.
We returned to the RV Park and had lunch at the local restaurant.....a very good shish-k-bob of chicken, fish, beef, other meats, and vegetables. We went to do some grocery shopping at a local store which looked like a small Wal-Mart clone, named Super Che. We had our social hour late afternoon and everyone is very concerned about the illness that has stricken our group. A local hospital emergency room was too crowded to accommodate any additional patients. Our leaders have found a local doctor and will collect him and bring him to the park to tend to the people who are sick at our location. They advised us the other 3 rigs might be on their way here to arrive tomorrow evening. We sure hope they all get well soon.