Palenque

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Palenque is a good 13 hours away by bus, but the ADO bus is surprisingly comfy and smooth.  They played 3 movies, one of them being Chapi, which I haven’t seen.  It was a pretty good movie given its about a robot.  Got a pretty good night of sleep out of it too. 
I arrived at Palenque about 6AM, which is perfect because you want to get to these ruins early, not late.  The place is hot, and it will only get hotter. 
Palenque was shown on Google images with a bunch of ruins, but the town is really lovely and really hope it is more publicized.  The Mayan temples are located on the mountain and you can get there 20 pesos.  I tagged along with a girl from Holland who is studying in the Valladolid jungles for biology.  It couldn’t have worked out better because she told me alot about the trees and monkeys near the Mayan temple, and it was a good learning experiment. 
There were a bunch of temples at the site and all of them are very magnificent.  You can also find an excavated tomb of Pakal in a museum on the site.  To get to the museum you go down a path down the forest and there are many more sites covered in algae.  There is also a waterfall along the way.  Most tourists are busy crowding the main temple area seldom anyone gets near the forest side.  The trees also provides shade from the burning sun.  That was definitely the best part of the site. 
My friend pointed to me a couple trees that were really interesting.  Strangler fig are small trees that wrap around bigger trees and in many years, they choke out the big tree and grow bigger to appear as if it’s a huge tree.  Siba, a Mayan sacred tree.  Zapote, a food crop for the Mayans where they make tortillas out of them.  The chenchen and chaca trees, also known as the bad and good brother trees.  Skin on the chenchen tree can cause poisoning that only the chaca tree can cure.  The chaca tree also has a red interior that people called it the white people under the sun tree. 
I also learned a few things about Mayan glyphs.  There is monkey looking symbol that is ajaw, the last day of the Mayan calendar month.  Different expressions on the monkey’s face leads to different dates.  The Mayans also portrait Pakal exactly the same in all their ruins, a guy with a long nose wearing different jewels. 
After the temples we went to a zoo where all the animals are rescued from trafficking.  The zoo was pretty dope, can’t imagine people were trafficking tapir as pets. There were also a lot monkeys which are abundant in the area. I learned from my friend that spider monkeys live in the Yucatan jungles. They have strong tails that help them climb and swing, acting as their third arm. Howler monkeys are indigenous to the area and they make terrible noises, but also have a very distinct look. We tried to find some in the jungle earlier but failed, but we spotted them on the trees outside of the zoo. What an irony. 
Got some really good shrimp dish with free chips and salsa and cerviche for cheap, but it was really hot that day.  There are two waterfalls a little far off but being pretty late, no one wanted to take us there. 
Walking around the town looking for some chillier spots, we discovered the city is really lively.  Rural shops after shops are lined up.  Streets are very busy and many shops blast music onto the street.  The colonial building styles are complemented by the jungle views surrounding it.  At 5 o’clock the grackle birds, a black bird with long tails fly around town, making horrible noises nonstop.  Then after that music starts and people relax at the town square. 
That night there were bunch of music and dance performances and locals danced and had fun at the square too.  It was really lively and a good surprise.  It was a really dope little town and I really wanted to take a few more days there. 

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