Week of November 16, 2003
We left Puerto Escondido and headed along the coast until we decided to stop at what we thought to be a uninteresting place called Tehuantepec (Tay-who-wan-tay-peck). We were turned away from our first attempt at an RV Park by a manager that saw U$A and wanted way too much for a minimal place to stay. We were trying to pinpoint a second "trailer park" when we saw this huge bus with "British Columbia" license plates and decided to follow it. As it turned out, the bus's occupants were in the same quandary as we...where can we park for the night?
The "trailer park" was not yet open for the season so we conspired to stay in the small church parking lot. After gifting the church's caretaker with a "donation", we parked Cindy next to Bob the bus (and his owners, David and Annamarie Beardsell and their two daughters, Lara and Tessa). Since we were a little unprepared for not having some amenities around us, we joined forces and came up with a dinner consisting of shrimp, sausage and tomatoes covered with a fantastic white sauce over pasta, freshly made by David. We were all still a bit frazzled by the enduring of 80+mph winds upon entering the Tehuantepec area; however, a few cold beers and the winds and the related damage (David lost his solar panel and almost his awning, and we sacrificed a light cover and some of our nerves) were left to worry about another day.
Bob's family was heading to Puerto Escondido where they will learn Spanish and continue traveling into the Yucatan. Annamarie and David are "home schooling" Lara and Tessa and by the conversations we had with these two girls, they are absolutely the better for it. Their hope is to spend 10 months traveling and return to Canada (Kamloops, B.C.). Gerson made sure that I got their address so we can stay in touch with this adventurous family (and our staying in touch has nothing to do with the fact that David is in the beer brewing business!). Bob behaved and Cindy enjoyed the company for the night. Who knows, maybe there will be a second date.
Well, not being content with jockeying once over the Sierra mountains, we decided to do it again for fun. On our way into the Yucatan, we made several "ruinous" stops along the way. Seeing as Mexico has hundreds of pyramids and palaces, it is difficult for the vehicular traveler to ignore the opportunity of walking in the footsteps of these creative and mystifying peoples.
OK, I will tell you right now...there will be mucho pictures of ruins. Each city or ruin has its own character and its own distinctive style and if you look closely at the pictures, you will notice the differences and the uniqueness of each place. After nine ruins thus far, we are still in awe of these exquisite examples of the creativity and the tenacity of these various peoples.
Palenque. One of the more popular ruins, Palenque (pa-lain-key) was inhabited as early as 300 B.C. During 300-900 A.D, the ancient Maya city was a ceremonial center for the high priests and the civilization peaked at around A.D. 600-700. When the city was rediscovered in the 1840's, the jungle was doing its best to reclaim the ruins as the city was buried under centuries of accumulated earth and a thick canopy of jungle.
Just a few traveling pictures:
We followed up Palenque with two more ruins, Kabah and Uxmal (Ka-baw and Oosh-mall). Kabah is a relatively small ruin but fantastic in its ornate plaster detail. The main palace had 32 rooms and Kabah is most known for its unique Palace of Masks. This palace has a repeated pattern of 250 masks of the rain god Chaac, each one with curling remnants of Chaac's elephant-trunk-like nose.
In the 2nd picture below, note the building way off in the distance in the upper left corner. That is a hotel. I thought it interesting to view buildings well over 1000 years old and a new hotel, across the tree tops. Does anyone want to take bets on which building will be around in 1000 more years?
Just a side note. It is estimated that thousands more buildings are undiscovered within the Yucatan jungle. Standing atop of the Gran Piramide, we could see what looked to be at least five more "mounds" or pyramid-like shapes. We were told that those and many, many others are visible from the Gran Piramide. Keep in mind that these buildings took one to 10 generations to build! Also, look closely at the walls of Kabah and Uxmal, you will not see much mortar. These blocks (both structural and decorative facade) were hand-hewn and fit into place.