Thursday, March 04, 2010

March 4 - Palenque

One of the reasons I booked into the Mayabelle is because it is within walking distances of Palenque. I walked to Palenque’s museum, which is 700 meters down the road, and arrived fifteen minutes before if opened for the day, so I decided to visit the ruins first and then return to the museum.
I asked a man sitting on a bench in front of the museum how to get to the ruins. “Take the collectivo,” he said. pointing at the shelter at the road.
“I prefer to walk,” I say.
“No, don’t walk, there are robbers, it’s dangerous.”
I’ve seen people jogging, others walking I’m wondering just how dangerous it can possibly be.
I walked up to the shelter where a man wearing a blue shirt, carrying a clip board and looking official was busy working at something. I asked him if it’s dangerous to walk to Palenque’s entrance. He tells me it is. I take a collectivo, and give the driver ten pesos.
At the entrance there were an uncountable number of guides, each with identification badges around their necks, all shouting, pushing, anxious to get their first tour of the day. I don’t like taking guided tours. At first I just kept saying, “No thank-you, I don’t want.” But, I return to the guides. Their obvious desperation is poignant. Randomly I hire a guide. It costs $300 pesos. He walks fast, a one person tour lacks the profitability of a larger group. Along the way I stop to read the plaques. He obliges because he has no choice. After he left me to my own devices, I walk back to the hotel for lunch.
I return to Palnenque after lunch, this time I walk, no collectivo because I don’t believe it is dangerous during the day when there are many tourists, guides and tourist police milling about.
Palenque is many ways is no different than the ruins of Monte Alban or Chaco Canyon All tell the story of lost cultures that were great in their time. The great and lost cultures of North and Central America have much in common with Egyptian culture, tombs, valuables buried with the leader, including sacrificed victims needed to ensure servants on the over side.

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