Bad luck with buses in Palenque

Trip Start Sep 10, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Sunday, October 8, 2006

We departed late at night from Campeche to Palenque, splurging on a first-class (read: expensive) bus for the typically six hour overnight ride. A bit tired from our fast-paced travels thus far, we were sleeping soundly when we were jolted awake by the sudden loud flapping of a busted tire. The driver pulled over, dragging the back bumper of the bus on the ground quite aways and we waited for another bus of the same line to pass by. When one showed up, the drivers piled everyone's luggage on to the new bus and we boarded with our busmates, but for reasons still unknown to us everyone except us changed their minds and got off the bus to wait on the side of the road. A few hours later, the second bus of the night dropped us in the bus terminal in Zapata to wait for an hour or so for one that would take us the rest of the way to Palenque. When bus number three showed up, lo and behold we were reunited with our busmates from bus number one! We arrived in Palenque only a few hours later than expected, but more tragically with a few less hours of sleep than expected as well. We put our big packs in left luggage storage and headed directly out to the archeological site, one of the most important in Mexico, and both quickly came to the conclusion that this was our favorite of the four day ruins blitz for a couple of reasons: first, you can climb to the top of almost all the structures (most ruins allow one temple or none at all) and secondly, the surrounding environment is hilly lush tropical forest to die for. After exploring the spooky basement chambers of the main palace, we wandered out to more remote clusters of ruins set back in the forest where we spied howler monkeys sleeping way up in the canopy and were visited by a curious toucan. We walked past an amazing series of cascades and sat by the rivers edge enjoying the peacefulness of the place for a while. Unable to resist the draw of more Mayan artifacts in the museum, we checked it out at a slightly speedier pace before catching a colectivo back to the town center. We bought bus tickets to head on to San Cristobal de las Casas that afternoon, and had just enough time to chow down lunch before it was time to leave. Unfortunately, we had to hopelessly watch our bus pull out of the terminal with our non-refundable tickets in our hands because the travel agency where we had left our backpacks was unexplicably closed when we went to collect them. When the manager-owner returned half an hour later, we explained that we had missed our bus because we couldn't access our packs. I suggested that since he was the cause of us losing 220 pesos and having to wait until 11pm for another bus, we should not have to pay for the storage time. This sparked a somewhat heated argument between him and me, but he was unrelenting. As it turns out, after spending a couple of hours playing carda in the central plaza and getting stranded under a palapa in said plaza during an extended downpour, we found and successfully boarded a bus at 5pm that took us without notable incident to San Cristobal de las Casas. Walking across town to the Backpackers Hostel, we immediately got good vibes from the city, beautiful architecture and slightly more relaxed than Campeche. At the suggestion of our ever-deceiptful guidebook, we inquired about camping at the hostel and the receptionists, with bemused looks on their faces, explained that the only place to camp would be on the patch of concrete next to the communal kitchen. No gracias. We got a double with a balcony that overlooked the courtyard instead.
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