The drive from town to the ruins seemed long because of excitement but in reality less than 10 minutes. I won’t spoil the effect that Palenque makes on its visitors but I will say impressive doesn’t cover it. There are two entrances, the first is the museum and entrance to lower site, the next the ruins themselves. We headed up to the small parking lot at the official direct entrance to the ruins for our day to begin. There we were approached by several vendors and tour guides. One stood out to us both, don’t know why, but it was as if we recognized a friend.
Miguel took into consideration both of our physical limitations and adapted his hike into the jungle to us. Stopping often to point out birds, monkeys or unusual plants.. I think he did this to help us rest. The jungle hike to the ancient pool and the fertility totem should be a must for every visitor. Yes, you must hire a guide as there are no trail markers or maps, the guides work hard at making your hike an adventure.
The pool is a relatively new discovery. If you look closely at my picture, you will see the leaves are floating. Scientists have removed around 40 ft. of dirt and debris from within but have not yet reached the bottom. The sides are lined with rocks as they suspect the bottom is. The water source is from the bottom and is a continually feeding pool. The Mayans ingeniously allowed for an output into a rock lined aquifer carrying fresh water throughout the region. Nearby is a “totem” said to be where a blessing was asked to make the region fertile and life-sustaining to the people and crops and animals. It is now thought to be the center of the once great Puebla (wrong word I know but what is the correct word? It was more than a town and less than all of the mayan civilization.) Our hike was so fun, that we did not want to lose touch with our guide. He and his girlfriend went out of their way taking me to a doctor in town and even escorted us to lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant located about halfway between town and the ruins The restaurant “Monte Verde” is a home with a large covered back porch that serves as the dining room and a great spot to watch the monkeys playing in the trees surrounding the home and/or the birds in the pond below. To enter you walk through the kitchen and get to marvel at the stacks and piles of fresh vegetables and pasta. (The cooks are happy to pose for pictures.) By far the best food I have eaten anywhere. So stop in, enjoy your meal and top it off with a bottle from there varied wine list. Check them out in Facebook: De Ale MONTE VERDE Trattoria Pizzeria Vineria
We next went into the area of the ruins themselves. For those “not able” or are in chairs or on scooters there is a nice pathway for your convenience. (For foreign tourist the majority of parques in Mexico do not have discounts for the disabled. The young and older yes.) Barter to get the seniors price. The entrance you will have to experience for yourself. It is the most amazing feat of man(men and women) that I personally have experienced. How so much could be accomplished without electric tools or machinery is mind numbing. That so much can be hidden within the jungle is mind boggling. Mexico should be very proud of the history they are working to uncover and the forethought of those trying to share it with the world, while preserving the past. Total admiration Mexico!
“The archeological area of Palenque is deep in the forest at the foot of low hills which limit the middle valley of the Usumacinta in northern Chiapas. The original name is unknown, in fact Palenque is a name which was invented by the Spanish.” The only reliable archeological source specifies that the maximum growth dates back from the 7th to 10th centuries, better known as the Middle and Late Classical period.” *courteously of the Palenque map book
The ruins themselves are for the most part accessible for those able to climb up and over. Lee walked up to the entrance of the tomb of the Red Queen. It was a struggle, but coming down was terrifying. She actually had a helping hand to get down. Both her and the young man had looks of terror when they realized what went up must go down. The stairs are steep and very narrow front to back. When looking down on a sunny day your eyes play tricks and hide the stairs. I imagined it looked more like a rock slide standing way up there. I couldn’t make it up 1 step because of the steepness. I was so freaked to see all the young women climbing in 6″-10″ heels and platforms. This is definitely an ideal place for well tied tennies or boots. The long building on your right is the Temple of the Inscriptions. It houses tombs and sarcophagus of kings and the blood queen. It has crumbled in places but what is there is inspiring. Ahead is the Palace, and most is gone, but people were climbing all over this building. It is the only way to get an idea of the interior rooms that once were. The view of the other buildings must be awesome. Trees offer shade behind the palace and there you will find large slab’s that have been recovered. Eventually the archeologists will attempt to rebuild the walls and ceilings they support. Many people used them as benches to rest or picnic. This is also where the vendors sell their souvenirs. At times they were overwhelming to me. I am by nature very shy and have a huge personal space. This is invaded quite a lot in Mexico. I have learned a smile and a head shake generally means no sale and interest or questions mean I want everyone to show me everything. I have also learned no means maybe and bartering is a game. Many tourist try to get something for nothing, but I can’t get out of my mind pennies saved to me might mean dinner to the vendor. I also give money if I take a picture of an indigenous person at work. I tend to stop and watch any crafts-person hard at work. To create something in front of thousands of prying eyes has got to be a challenge.
If by chance you love stairs and adventure. We at first thought the terrain was pretty level, but we were told if we followed the signs (back right corner from entrance, near restrooms) to the waterfalls we would see all sorts of wonderfulness. Relics of what once were houses, tendas, aquifers, and a new suspension bridge over a small gorge. But at least a thousand stairs are between you and rest. The pathway ends across the street from the museum. There is a van that will carry you back up to your car. We passed for obvious, to me, reasons. Although we did enter in at the other end and took a very short walk in the shade.