San Cristobal to Palenque

San Cristobal to Palenque
Palenque, Mexico

Palenque, Mexico


It’s pitch black when we leave San Cristobal this morning. We’re trying to get through road blocks and avoid tolls etc on our way to Palenque. Our drivers name is Manwell. The “well” part of his name does not describe his driving. Manwell enjoys potholes, driving in both lanes (disregarding direction), doesn’t like music playing while driving (it probably distracts him from lining up the vehicle with the potholes) and has a sweet haircut to boot. Sensible on the sides, party in the middle, long and slicked back. I drew him. Our main destination is the amazing Cascadas de Agua Azul (Spanish for “Blue-water Falls”). It’s troppo and located in the jungle, 69kms out of Palenque. As there’s been rain in the past few days, we aren’t expecting so much Azul (blue colour) in the water. Surprisingly, we are blessed with glorious masses of Azul. What a sight. Further up the river, away from the liquid turbulence of the falls, are parts to swim in. Of course I’m the first to get my clothes off and jump in…. and to get told off by a makeshift lifeguard signalling me to get away from the rapids that cascade down the limestone sections. The water is icey, refreshing and my skin transitions from sweaty, to cool. Only a few of us go swimming and there is no one else up here. It’s a jungle water paradise. It reminds me of waterfalls and rainforests at home but better! On the path back to the bus, a woman offers something I would call “Coco Loco’s”. Coconuts with shots of hard liquor, for the serious jungle trekker. About 20 minutes drive from Agua Azul, in a town ,in the middle of no where, we breakdown/ stop at a “Mex mechanic”. Something to do with the brakes “breaking”. A few of us walk up the road to a small shop that sells the bare essentials, black beans, water and machetes. A few small children spot a guy from our group, point, and say, “gringo”. We are not exactly welcome here. After sweating up a storm for an hour, the bus is up and running again (Manwell will no doubt remedy this by continuing to drive like a… Ahhh… crazy Mexican). In Palenque, Em and I go to our room and do some domestic duties. Leg shaving and washing. Our hotel at San Cristobal had absolutely no ventilation, leaving us with many wet clothes. Palenque is humid and optimal for drying clothes. Our room quickly resembles a sweat shop. No item of furniture is spared, the TV, curtain rails and the fan. Emily and I consider ourselves quiet ingenuitive, turning the fan on super slow we’ve managed to create somewhat of a mobile for adults… Even if it does contain a few of my wet thongs that encroach on Emily’s sleeping space/ bed. We have lunch across the road at another hotel, with a pool. Being paying customers, this means we can utilise the pool and it’s glorious poolside service. In the pool, margarita in hand, macaws fly above. There’s a steady breeze blowing through the giant surrounding trees, loosening small yellowing leaves that rain on us in the pool like snowflakes. It’s beauty chlorinated and mildly mexy magical. Rain starts, upsetting the calm surface of the pool water. We stay for a short while during the downpour and retreat to the room. Victor has managed to get the latest episodes of Game Of Thrones, so Em, Mitesh and I get our fix before calling it a night.

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