My oh Mayan! - We'll Follow the Sun - CycleBlaze

December 13, 2018

My oh Mayan!

Well, I hope you enjoyed learning all about the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe yesterday!  We also learned something new - that it is a national holiday and that many communities hold special events on this day - which is great until you need to drive through that community on your way to Palenque! It was a long long driving day (took us 7 hours!) and at the end, we both fell exhausted into bed, hoping that today would show to be worth all the effort it took to get here. (Note from the next day: I had forgotten that I had my mapping feature set to no toll roads! Oh boy! Now we know why we were on such crazy roads!)

Well, I can now say that it was indeed!  We started off with a great breakfast which, it turns out, was included in the price of our room.  At 500 pesos per night, that made it a pretty good deal in our books.  Fresh fruit, eggs, juice and toast gave us a big energy boost for the coming day.  We drove up to the site (about a 10 minute drive) and were surprised and pleased to see a separated bike lane going all the way from town up to the site - darn!  No bikes today!  Oh well, if you come here on your bike, know that you can ride that part safely.  However, as for the rest of the road coming up?  Not too sure about that - lots and lots of washed out road, extremely pot-holed road or just plain bad road - you get the picture.  Which is why it took us so long.  But I digress.  For us, it was totally worth the effort it took to get here!

Once we reached the ruins we paid the park entry fee of 35 pesos each, then at the top parked the car.  We were approached by a very friendly guide who offered us a tour.  We had just finished saying to ourselves that we would NOT want to do a tour, but Salvatore was very engaging and explained to us what he could show us in an hour and a half.  As part of his spiel was taking us back into the jungle behind the actual site, we decided that it was worth the money (1300 pesos for the two of us) and were so very pleased with the results.  We learned much, not only about this site in particular, but about other Mayan sites as well and Mayan culture in general.  Salvatore was thorough, but didn't rush us, so Jim was still able to take all the picutures he wanted.  We both learned so much - my head hurts!  I'll try to let the pictures today to show you just a bit of what we learned, but if you ever get the chance to come here, get the guide - it's worth it! 

Part one - the jungle 

This was a major reason for choosing a guided tour - the opportunity to see where there hasn't been any excavation yet. The yellow parts of the map are done, but the rest is as of yet, uncovered! Over 2000 dwellings in this city! We wanted to see what an explorer would have seen many years ago
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This is the wall of a major building. It went of for a long long way - apparently it was as large as some of the big structures we saw later on
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We also saw some plant life, of course! This is a mushroom! It felt like rubber and is edible!
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The outside is a strangler fig tree. It grows up around a host, eventually killing it.
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Bird of Paradise
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Bill ShaneyfeltI think this one is called lobster claw.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliconia
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6 months ago
Sue PriceTo Bill ShaneyfeltOh! My mistake! Thanks, Bill!
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6 months ago
No idea - Bill?
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Bill ShaneyfeltGinger! Lots of it at my brother's place in Hawaii.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpinia_purpurata
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6 months ago
Sue PriceTo Bill ShaneyfeltNice!
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6 months ago
This one is very poisonous, apparently
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Moving on to the main show, it is just breathtaking to walk out of the jungle to view this spectacular place!

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The inside of the tomb for the Red Queen was open today, so we got to peek in - very damp and dark we were thankful for the lights!
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This is the actual tomb! Why is she called the Red Queen? When the tomb was discovered in 1994, they found the remains, and all of the jade jewelry she was adorned with covered in red cinnabar powder. It is thought that she was a queen and possible the mother of the last Mayan ruler at this site.
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These "roof combs" are thought to have been added for height and embellishment of important structures. These Mayans covered their stone work with plaster and then painted it so so the actual buildings would have been very colourful to look at
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You can see what's left of the reds and blues here
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Instead of carvings, images were created with plaster on top of the stucco finish and then it would be painted
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And, of course, there are glyphs to tell the story of each picture. Some of them are pretty long and detailed!
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Unlike their neighbors to the north, these Mayans had to deal often with too much water. They designed a sophisticated aqueduct to control where the water went and could be used both in the home and to grow crops without destroying structures during heavy rainfall periods.
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They even had "indoor plumbing"! The waste water was diverted away from water used for drinking and watering of plants, of course!
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Yep! That would be an ancient Mayan toilet!
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Ok, ok, no more education! I'll leave with a few more of our favourite shots from today.

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Our fantastic guide, Salvatore! Thank you for the knowledge!
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This pretty much sums up how I feel about this day - just so very awesome and amazing!
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Exhausted but very very happy, we made our way back to our hotel for a siesta before working on the blog and heading out for dinner.  Tomorrow is another driving day, but we may stop at one more ruin, so if we do I'll have something to say other than this is a very large and beautiful country!

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