Driving occupied the first half of the day as we departed Palenque bound for Villahermosa, just 98 miles away; but, you remember we are in Mexico and this short drive took 3 hours. We paid one toll of 53 pesos. There was lots of road construction and it was slow going. We were waved on through the Customs Inspection and Military Inspection points. Shortly, we left the state of Chiapas and entered the state of Tabasco. This region is famous for the cocoa bean which, of course, makes chocolate. Tabasco has also benefited from onshore and offshore oil exploration and is one of Mexico's more prosperous states. The scenery was pretty even if the roads weren't. African tulip trees with lovely orange flowers and chilis layered out to dry were frequent sights along the way. We arrived at our RV Park, El Gordo, just in time for lunch.
After lunch, we car-pooled to one of Villahermosa's star attractions, Parque Museo La Venta. This is an outdoor museum and mini zoo, which simulates the jungle oasis setting of the ancient Olmec center at La Venta (which is about 80 miles away). Archaeologists moved these stone sculptures, by raft possibly, when the site at La Venta was threatened by oil exploration. We had a guide but I found his presentation uninteresting. Information plates provided some explanation of the pieces we were looking at. The stone monuments depicted warriors, figures carrying children, dolphins, jaguars etc. The Olmecs were the ancestors of the Maya; sometimes called the cradle civilization or mother culture. Like the Mayan ruins, it is difficult to imagine how these ancient people carved such monumental pieces without benefit of modern tools or technology.
In the zoo portion, cats included jaguars and ocelots. The coatimundi were so cute and begged for food especially if they heard the rustling of a potato chip bag. Spider monkeys and babies played happily. A big pool area was home to crocodiles and turtles.
We don't have enough time to explore the city of Villahermosa but we could see from our brief driving excursions that the city has some luxury hotels and lots of shopping areas. We had dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, Restaurante Rodizio. In addition to an all-you-can-eat salad bar, various meats were cut, shaved, or served from a skewer. A dessert cart, margaritas, and coffee rounded out the meal for us. The food was good, pricey, and presented the opportunity to overeat.
Tomorrow, we leave early for our drive to Tehuantepec.