Toniná, Palenque, Rivers, Adventure

This past weekend we left our hub in San Cristobol de las Casas and headed out to Palenque, a town 5.5 hours away by bus. The bus ride grew hotter and more humid by the minute as we headed down the mountains to our destination. By the time we hopped off the bus, we were groggy and dripping with sweat. Palenque is a semi-touristy town in the heart of humid jungleland in Chiapas, Mexico. A quick 10 minute ride away are the extensive Maya ruins of Palenque. This site was incredibly valuable in deciphering the language of the Maya people because of the amount of intact tablets and writings.

During this relaxing “tourist” weekend break, we went to a discussion on Maya astronomy lead by an indigenous man from Chiapas who now works for NASA. His Maya astronomy display will be opening throughout the country soon at all the large planetariums. We also went dancing, saw a fire dancing show, ate delicious food, swam in a few beautiful rivers, and saw a few different ruin sites.

The ruins were amazing. Both Palenque and Toniná blew my mind, as these surreal things tend to do. On our way back to San Cristobol on Sunday, we stopped in a Zapatista town. The people don’t generally let extranjeros (foreigners) in to their village, but one of our leaders and her partner have a good relationship with the people and they worked out an agreement to allow us in. This village has one of the most beautiful cascades of waterfalls I have ever seen. The water was a bright blue/green and the waterfalls and their pools went on forever. I could explore that jungle and the water for days on end. We also spend time jumping off logs with the indigenous children of the village. They were great and showed us some trails around the jungle.

After the water exploration, we headed to Toniná, another Maya ruin site. It’s mostly just one gigantic, enormous pyramid. We hiked to the top, and boy was it a hike. The site was closing, so we had to climb this pyramid quickly and carefully. The view from the top was unbelievable. There was an option to ride horses around the site, but we didn’t have enough time. We hopped back on a mini bus and crammed all 14 of us inside. It was a sickening 2 hours ride back to San Cristobol and we were all glad to be back “home” with dinner ready.

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