Palenque

Jul. 23rd, 2012 10:26 am
pamelonian: (Default)
[personal profile] pamelonian
Palenque was a 9-hour bus ride from Mérida.  We stayed in a "hotel" that consisted of cabins in the jungle, actually quite nice.  I have wanted to visit this site since I first saw it in a movie our Spanish teacher showed us in 9th grade.  We used to bug subsequent Spanish teachers until they would let us see the movie again.  It's an Academy-Award winning 1971 documentary called "Sentinels of Silence."  Orson Welles narrates the English version and Ricardo Montalbán narrates the Spanish.  The short film featured helicopter photography of the sites accompanied by an epic, orchestral soundtrack.  It was a dream come true to see this beautiful city nestled deep in the jungle.

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This first temple was later discovered to have been a tomb (see the opening at the bottom). No one had previously believed any of the Latin American pyramids had been used as tombs like the ones in Egypt.



Our guide first took us to a location to show how the jungle has been growing on the buildings. Nearly every place we walked, he said, probably had some part of the city buried below. They have only uncovered a tiny fraction of the great city of Palenque. Then we stepped onto a colony of fire ants. OUCH!! There are dangers in the jungle you can't even see!

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They called this The Temple of the Skull.

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And here's the skull.

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I was very happy to be here. (And to be sitting in the shade!)

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Inside the court yard of the royal palace.

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In May, when the sun reaches its zenith for this location, the sun shines through this T, then through the next window onto the crowd below. The king (or lord or whatever he was called) would stand dramatically in the sunlight and inform the people it was time to plant, that the rains would come soon.

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Me inside the palace.

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The outside of the palace.

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Palenque is unique for these structures on the tops of the buildings.

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There was a throne room of sorts with frescoes painted inside, but they were hard to see. I mainly loved the views from the tops of the buildings.

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I would have liked to spend another day or two here exploring, and maybe I will someday. I would definitely stay in Hotel Maya Bell again (shameless plug). There was a restaurant nearby that had live music and catered to a dread-locked hippy crowd. Great food! Most of the people in our group liked Palenque the best of all the places we saw. It was the whole experience, I think. Getting there, sleeping in the jungle, exploring the beautiful city.

One night 3 others in our group and I participated in a sweat lodge experience called the Tamascal. I don't think I ever sweated so much! I came out of there reeking of incense and soaking wet, but I was cured of my digestive issues!

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