Trip Start Jun 11, 2005
Trip End Sep 01, 2005

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, July 29, 2005

The bus wasn't too bad. Not as nice as the bus to and from Juarez, but what are gonna do? I managed to sleep a little. I also managed to figure out that in the last 8 days I've spent 70+ hours on a bus. Life is grand.

Villahermosa was okay. I saw what I wanted to see, but it was cheesier than I expected. It's a pseudo-archaeological site. All the items are real, but have been removed from their original locations and placed conveniently on a path of preserved rain forest. It's a number of Olmec heads that are famous and interesting, so that was nice to see. But the accessibility means having to deal with hoards of people - the kind of crowds you'd rarely have to deal with at an actual site. Why?

Well, for example, in Tikal in Guatemala, you're really out in the jungle. That means there are jaguars, monkeys, and hoards of frightening insects and what not. The ground is littered with enormous ant mounds, which house leaf cutter ants. These things are huge. The soldiers are more than an inch long, and our guide decided to stomp on the mound so that we could get a good look at them. One of the cool guys on our tour was wearing sandals (yeah, in the jungle) and he was bitten on his big toe. He let out a blood-curdling scream and hopped around in this beautifully dramatic, cartoonish manner, like when Jerry smacks Tom's foot with a mallet. I thought, wow, this guys quite a pansy. But then I saw blood streaming from his toe. That's odd. The ant had opened up a pretty large gash on his foot and the bleeding refused to stop. I removed the pansy label I had bestowed on him, and decided I felt sorry for him.

The lesson - leaf cutter ants are terribly cool, and you shouldn't wear flops in the jungle.

Cool trivia: The leaf cutter ants obviously have pretty good sized and powerful pincers. The Mayans used them as makeshift medical stitches or staples. They'd pick them up, pinching the ants behind their heads (our guide in Tikal demonstrated this) and then let them bite down on very large wounds. Then they'd rip the ants' bodies off and the heads would stay in place, holding the wound closed. How cool is that?

Villahermosa had animals too, but they were all in cages. They were still mildly interesting. I'll post photos.

After that, I took a bus to Palenque. That's where I am now. It's hot here. Mexico City and San Miguel were never hotter than the low 80s. It's stifling here. But my room has a large shaky fan that may decapitate me in my sleep. Fingers crossed. Tomorrow I'm going to the ruins. I don't know how many days I'll stay here. I have a week until I meet Lindsey in Mexico City. So I'll split that between here and San Cristobal. I actually need to get to DF a day early so I can check out Teotihuacan and Frida's house. We shall see.
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