Our Indiana Jones Adventure
Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
217Trip End Ongoing
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Preconceptions of cantinas serving tequila (Where else did Cantina Tequila get it from?) spurred us to hunt for just that. So we went around the streets asking locals where to go. Initially they were directing us to the plush hotels. This prompted us to add: "No para gringos, para Mexicanos!" (Not for foreigners, for Mexicans!).
That's how we ended up at Nachos Bar, a small poorly-lit and simply decorated bar with only male patrons
Next day we headed off to the ruins. We quickly learned what Septi-hambre (September Hunger) means when we were surrounded by ten guides. They weren't all touting for our business though. As Salvador explained, they take turns and keep a list of who will tout the next set of customers. The negotiating ball was in our court so we patiently waited until they accepted our price of 300 pesos for 2 hours. They laughingly said we could have the elderly, slow-moving, slow-speaking guide for that low price but we held out for Salvador. We figured he'd make for good entertainment!
The ruins themselves were not that different to Tikal's. But Salvador took us behind the barriers into unexcavated parts where we could crawl into the structures where bats lurk and swing with vines from the mounds
Palenque is special, like a temple of doom! Secrets tombs were discovered with special release mechanisms. Two separate tombs contained skeletons with lots of jade jewellery and other personal possessions - one belonging to a woman and one to a man. They're not sure who they were but they must've been important.
Salvador was a great guide who apparently won 3rd prize for best guide with some regional tour company. We got on so well that Salvador that he invited us back to his house where we spent a pleasant afternoon. We paid for the ingredients and in exchange he cooked up a storm! Prawns diablo with chipotle chillis and dorado fish wrapped in foil with tomato, onion and his special blend of herbs and spices. He showed us around his humble abode where he sleeps in an expensive hammock. He told us his life story, showed us pics of his 7 kids and told us how much he spent on his daughter's 15th birthday party. This celebration is a big deal throughout Latin America (we first came across it in Cuba), almost as a big deal as a wedding
That night the town was struck by a nasty storm that lasted for hours. The joys of the rainy season! We're talking bolsterous thunder, constant lightning and torrential rain. We were trapped at a pharmacy trying to out-wait the rain. While sat there admiring the awe-inspiring weather and chatting about life, lightning struck the ground right in front of us! Mario saw it and I saw the look on his face. Shock! Horror! I've never seen him react that way EVER before, in all our 14 years!
Eventually we admitted defeat, kicked off our flipflops and wading carefully along the sidewalks. As serendipity would have it we discovered a small taco joint on a side street that served "gringas" - a taco with kebab-like meat from a huge skewer topped with grilled pineapple and melted cheese! A perfect ending to a very eventful day!
Aside: To honour the start of 3 months (at least!) in this country Mario decided to wear Mexico on his face! He shaved it all off (thankfully, not his eyebrows!) and started work on his Mexican-style moustache (watch how it grows in future posts).