The day held promise, blue sky and bright sun, but soon the sky clouded over.
In 1994 the Zapatista Army, a guerrilla movement in Chiapas, ended their war with the Mexican government. One of the many places held by the Zapatistas during that time was San Cristobal. T-shirts were sold in some stores that read in English, “The battle is over. But land claims aren’t settled.” Creating the impression that at any moment another battle could erupt.
On the road to Palenque, the Mexican army can be seen in full force. There is a newly built fortress surrounded by a 10 foot gray-green concrete fence designed to look like the walls that protected medieval castles. Inside the compound there are beautiful manicured trees and grass. Armed soldiers protect the fortress Meanwhile the people nearby live in destitution and desperation, waiting for the land they so desperately want, and have wanted for over 100 years, while the army keeps them forcibly in check. Each road, school and any other public works project has a large sign in front of it stating something like, “Your Federal Government at work for you.”
Palenque is a dirty, dust town, a pitiful place. I didn’t have a reservation until the next night, but my gut tells me everything will be fine, and it was. I take a cab out of Palenque and drive to my hotel which is walking distance from the ruins. Mayabell is about half the price per night of No Bolom. My room was sparse, but it’s was fine. Mayabelle is a combination RV park, hostel, hotel and spa.
A group of Canadian RV’ers are here. The plates on their rigs indicate different provinces but likely they came down in a caravan. They were busy using their BBQ’s and telling each other the “bif steks” were ready. They made an understandable error beef steak is not “bif stek” Canadians are everywhere, I meet so many in proportion to our population. Later in my travels an English man will ask me, “Is there anyone left in Canada?”
This is the jungle, but it’s cold as well as the expected damp.
(photos are of Mayabelle)