On La Ruta Maya

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes the best sites in the world don't have lines, don’t cost admission and don’t have your fellow countrymen showing what dubious cultural ambassadors they are, and I use that term loosely.  

Sitting in Merida's central plaza at sunset is the best way to see what makes a place and its people tick.  Mariachi bands, people selling ice cream, kids playing, a woman hawking roses with her upset child in tow, people holding hands, traffic passing on by.   No, this isn’t some sanitized Epcot Center Mexican Pavilion with sunburned tourists from Moline, IL fawning over oversized sombreros and overpriced bean tortilla glop from an Old El Paso mix.  Viva Mexico.  This is the real deal, far removed from the Zona Hotelera in Cancun or the pyramids at Chechen Itza or anywhere else soiled by the masses.   In fact, I think Grandma Mavis would have soiling issues of her own if AeroMexico suddenly crapped her and her canasta club into some side street in Merida.

I am definitely an outsider here and for sure I don’t blend in.  That’s ok though.  I wouldn’t have anything to take in if this were my normal.  Think about it…Do you really notice anything special or memorable in your own hometown?  Probably not.   I am noticing in the US we close our eyes to that which is familiar and we become individual fortresses.  Zipping around in cars from place to place further isolates us.   Indeed, there is no streetlife to even take in since everyone is safely tucked away inside their metal capsules.  Even if someone dare walk he or she probably has in the Ipod or is glued to the mobile phone so any attachment to the surroundings is lost.

Some random guy pretending to be Michael Jackson (complete with blackface) dancing to Annie Are You OK made me say WTF.  Two old men got overexcited and tugged on my sleeve and kept saying Michael Yocksone, Michael Yocksone and grinning ear to ear.  They were obviously proud of their hometown hero.   I especially liked the pimped out Dodge Minivan that slowly passed by blasting Staying Alive out of open windows.   It looked like some bad joke from a Mexican version of Pimp My Ride but someone forgot to update the soundtrack to befit such a ride.   Where else but Merida would MJ even dare compete with the Bee Gees?

The next stop on this El Grande Tour is Palenque with its archeological sites.   The express bus a la first class  with air conditioning and movies made the journey effortless and I even had my own row with plenty of legroom.  About 8 hours later I was rolling into town refreshed and ready to sweat my butt off again.

Though I’ve been to Copan Ruins and the granddaddy of them all, Tikal, climbing pyramids in humidity and stifling heat really isn’t my cup of tea.  Just like castles in England, you see one, you’ve seen them all.   Seriously, how much can you do with stone blocks stacked up like legos?  However, since I am on La Ruta Maya and I already passed up Chichen Itza and Tulum near Cancun, I feel compelled to at least maybe stop at Palenque Ruins and pay my respects to the Gods who made these cities possible for my journey. 

And all these pyramids and crap got me to thinking.  If these societies were so fantastic and capable of building great monuments, what happened over time?   I would hesitate to put these countries in the same league as the US, Britain or Germany.  Was it the invention of the siesta?  Did learning to close up shop all afternoon and sleep the day away do these societies in? Who knows.  

Here in Palenque I would like to see some waterfall and lake nearby at a minimum tomorrow.  Depending on how I feel in the heat, maybe I will take in the ruins.   Now I am understanding the siesta a little more...it sure does seem like a good idea after having walked around in the heat this evening

How I got here:

20 minute walk from Hostel La Casa to bus station
ADO bus from Merida to Palenque- 0830 departure 408 pesos ($30.00) 8 hours
5 minute walk from terminal to Yaxkin Hostal

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