Trip Start Dec 01, 2009
29Trip End Aug 01, 2010
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pengs: After Barra de la Cruz we headed back over the mountains into the Chiapas region. Our first stop was the hip hangout of San Cristobal. This town is set up in the mountains and is surrounded by green rolling hills. We loved the town, again colourful and full of interesting spots to visit. It is also known as a bit of a cinema hub so we splashed out on a movie the one night (you can see how our budget is being nailed here!). The town is also known as a centre for Zapatista resistance sympathisers and for the first time in Mexico we felt like there were more indigenous inhabitants than the mestizos (mixed Spanish and Indian). Everywhere around town there were indigenous people hawking their wares, indian ladies laden down with cloths of all colours, scarves, jerseys; men with hammocks and boxes of sweets, even children sent out to sell brightly-coloured necklaces and clay animals of all descriptions. We visited the Sunday market at a village close to San Cristobal where all the indian people from the surrrounding hills come to sell their wares. These people are so tiny, Nadya and I felt like giants, we were at least a foot above everyone else.
nadya: I have been reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, which is by sheer luck and coincidence, set largely in Mexico. It is a stunning book, and her writing is so beautifully descriptive, reflecting in words I cannot find myself, those places and experiences which we have been moving through ourselves:
"In the afternoon when the sun lights the stucco buildings across the street, itīs possible to count a dozen different colours of paint, all fading together on the highest parts of the wall: yellow, ochre, brick, blood, cobalt, turquoise. The national colour of Mexico. And the scent of Mexico is a similar blend: jasmine, dog piss, cilantro, lime...
Here life is strong-scented, overpowering. Even the words. Just ordering breakfast requires some word like toronja, triplet of muscular syllables full of lust and tears, a squirt in the eye. Nothing like the effete īgrapefruitī which does not even mean what it says."
We went for a drive through the surrounding countryside, through small indian villages and green hills dotted with houses... the people here all wear traditional dress of brightly embroidered cloth, and live simple lives in basic houses made of mud and sticks... it was interesting to catch glimpses of people going about their daily lives... flashes of purple and pink inbetween the rolling green hills, women sweeping with ancient brooms, braiding each otherīs hair, boys on bikes freewheeling downhill, huge white smiles contrasting against their coffee-coloured skins.
pengs: We left San Cristobal (I was putting the pressure on to get moving. Godammit, we still have so far to go!) and headed for the ruins of Palenque. On the way we stopped at a series of pools and cascades called Aqua Azul, named for itīs intense turquoise waters. We tried to capture the colours but the overcast weather wasnīt playing ball, but had a lovely swim anyway.
We arrived in Palenque and found an incredibly cheap place to camp. Thereīs a lot to be said about staying at the cheapest place in town and this one said it all. We didnīt get much sleep that night due to drunk and rowdy Mexicans harassing us and tramping through our campsite. The next morning, we packed up our tent in record time and moved immediately to another campsite before heading to the ruins.
nadya: Good thing we got going early, beating the crowds of tourists who visit this popular site. I absolutely loved Palenque - not only for itīs incredible architecture and carvings, but for its vast extent and setting amidst thick lush rainforest, with open green grassy areas to sit and chill. We really enjoyed clambouring up to the lesser-explored groups of ruins, overgrown with jungle, imagining ourselves intrepid explorers. The sound of the howler monkeys in the treetops really added to the experience - they sound like a mixture of a dying cow and demons coming to take your soul...!!
Off to the Yucatan next... more ruins, more exploring...