Monday 2 February 2015

Mexico: NYE in Palenque National Park

Day 5

Today was New Year's Eve - and I was in the middle of a Mexican jungle!  As you do...

After spending the previous day travelling, I was excited for the action-packed day ahead.

I had a quick egg breakfast (my first non-Oxxo breakfast since arriving in Mexico!) - it tastes better than it looks!

Then it was time to head to the Palenque ruins.

The site is mid-sized city, smaller than places like Chichen Itza or Tikal, but, in the words of the Lonely Planet “The soaring jungle-swathed temples of Palenque are a national treasure and one of the best examples of Maya architecture in Mexico”.  The city dates back from 226BC to approx 799AD and is surrounded by cedar, mahogany and sapodilla trees.

Much of the ancient city is still covered by jungle but 1sq mile has been revealed and we had a tour guide to take us around and tell us about the characters who ruled...

We also learnt about the Mayan calendar and zodiac signs.

So in Mayan astrology, I'm not a Sagittarius but a Yaxk'in:

Yaxk'in: November 23rd to December 12th 
Meaning: New Sun, Sun God, Red Clouds, Green Mayan Astrology Signs Interpretation: Those born in the sign of Yaxk'in have a connection with the Mayan Sun God Ah Kin. He provided protection against darkness, drought and disease. Those born in this sign are natural healers. You may find you have an affinity for healing those around you, whether with soothing words or as a healing practitioner. This sign also has one downfall which is doubt. Ah Kin was known as the bringer of doubt and indecision. Learn to trust in your decisions and the decisions of those around you.

Unfortunately I don't think I can relate though - I'm definitely not a 'healer'...unless my accident-prone self takes all the hits (and bites!) for everyone else.  And I am super decisive...I'll stick to Mystic Meg!

I also managed to squeeze in some time to look at the stalls - stopping to buy some turquoise leather feather earrings.

After the ruins, we headed off to explore the jungle on a walk through the National Park

Monkey overhead

Here's our cheerful, barefooted guide

We snacked on termites...!

(low fat, high protein snacking!)

...and walked through rivers...

...and climbed trees...

...a great (though humid) walk.

And that was all before lunch.

We jumped in our bus and headed to Cascada de Roberto Barrios (the Roberto Barrios waterfalls).

Our bus driver was a real character - blasting his uptempo music and encouraging us all to dance (usually by taking his hands off the wheel and waving his arms in the air!)  He even stopped the van to drag me out for a roadside dance-off!  When in Mexico...

The waterfalls are in a Zapatista village about 40 minutes from the Palenque ruins.  It's similar to Agua Azul which I would shortly go to but very unknown - basically only the kids who live in the village were around.


Our bus drivers made us some guacamole to munch on with nachos and chicken - delicious.

The waterfalls were a bright green-blue colour...whilst a little chilly we had great fun clambering around...

...particularly when some of the kids showed us how to jump off the waterfalls...

...and a secret passage to swim through the waterfall.

As the afternoon drew to an end we headed back to our jungle lodge to start our NYE celebrations.

We kicked off with some tequila cocktails - far more successful than the previous night.

And then headed down to the only bar-restaurant in the area to join in the local celebrations. 

With the great live music, we learnt how to sip (not shoot) our took a lot of practice!

Watched a fire show and the midnight's fireworks...

...and salsa-ed...and then salsa-ed some more.  I say 'salsa-ed' - I basically blindly was twirled and moved around the dance floor whilst trying not to hit others or tangle myself up!  Such are my co-ordinated dance skills.

After the place emptied, we walked back to our lodges to the sound of howler monkeys, using our phones for light along the jungle track.

Central America

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