A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico

Ruins of Palenque

Mayan ruins in a lush jungle setting

sunny 33 °C
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Today we went out to the ruins here in Palenque. They were built by Mayans, who first occupied the area around 100 BC. The prime period for the city fell between 600-700 AD, under the reign of King Pakal. He is buried in the largest excavated building, known as Templo de las Inscripciones, which you can see here:

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The whole of the city lies over an area of appr. 15 sq km, and consist of 1453 buildings (found so far). Only a smaller central area is excavated, including 500 or so of the buldings. We spent most of the day walking around them, and climbing up them for better views. Here I am looking over part of the city:

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In this tropical heat and humidity, you quickly get covered in a film of sweat and water, and you feel like you're in a shower all day. Knowing this, we dressed as comfortably as possible, in shorts, boots and t-shirts. Unfortunately, this, combined with the backpack containing camera and water, makes you look like quite a fool - here I am in my Dora the Explorer getup:

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Comical. But hey, comfort beats vanity in a place like this, at least for me it does. Tomorrow we head for Flores and Tikal in Guatemala, on a combined bus/boat/minibus tour - should take 8-10 hours. We'll be picked up at the hotel at 6am, so its early to bed today. Look out for more info and pics from Tikal - an even larger Mayan ruin city.

Posted by monkyhands 18:29 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

Arrived in Palenque

Tropical heat and cool drinks

sunny 32 °C
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We arrived well in Palenque this morning, but the bus ride was quite rough, as we both suffer from leaky arses, caused by a restaurant in Mexico City. I had it twice already while we were there, and both times we had eaten in this place the night before. Al has only ever had belly issues once before, in Calcutta, which says a lot about the poison they must be serving up in there - so to anyone coming to Mexico City: don't eat in Cafe La Blanca (should be called Cafe The Leaky Arse).

Anyway, Palenque is quite pleasant. Its a lot hotter than Mexico City, and a lot more humid, but luckily there are lots of cheap cafes serving up cool drinks under spinning fans. We have spotted our first pair of parrots already, and a number of strange bugs - ah, the jungle life :) We just hope to be able to keep the creepy-crawlies out of our bed at night.

We have now uploaded the last set of pictures from Mexico City, including the ruins a Teotihuacan to Flickr, so have a look. Hopefully tomorrow we can upload some good shots of the ruins here in Palenque, including the two of us in Dora the Explorer gear ;)

Posted by monkyhands 04:08 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Last few days in Mexico City

Ruins, Lucha Libre and markets

sunny 29 °C
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On friday the 20thn of april, we put on our walking boots once more, and strolled around in the city. We saw a few more mural by Diego Rivera - the guy is everywhere. Friday night we went to a Mexican wresting show, they call it Lucha Libre, and it is really fun! The wrestlers/performers are extremely talented, and they fly through the air etc. The special thing about Mexican wrestling, is that the wrestlers wear crazy spandex costumes, including fantastic hoods in leather, latex sequins or feathers. They also have very exotic names, such as Danger, Molotov, Nosferatu, Satanico, Blue Panther, Ultimo Dragon, Tarzan Boy, Blue Demon Junior, and everyone`s apparant favorite: Mistico. Excellent show.
On saturday the 21st we took a day trip out to the ruins of an ancient city called Teotihuacan, 50 km north of Mexico City. It contains two major pyramids, plus a large area of smaller ruins and roads. The largest pyramid - Pyramid of the Sun - really blows you away. It is the third largest pyramid in the world, only surpassed by Cholula and Cheops. It is currently 70m tall, and was built from 100 AD, a millenium or so before the Aztecs! It is constructed from 3 million tons of stone and brick, by a culture which had netiher metal tools, pack animals, nor the wheel. We took great pictures here, and even though I should know better by now, I got really sunburnt (the first of many, I`m sure).
On the 22nd we spent a lazy day walking aroubnd Mexico`s markets and department stores, which really underlined the huge divide between rich and poor here.
On the 23rd we went back to the tattoo parlour, to get Al`s tattoo finished. Unfortunately, it is still not healed completely, so the guy did most of it, and the rest will have to wait for another country, because now we really are out of here!
Today, the 24th, we checked out of hotel Buenos Aires, and headed for the TAPO bus station, to catch an all night bus to Palenque, an ancient Mayan ruin city. More from there soon!

Posted by monkyhands 17:11 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Exploring the city

Aztec culture, art and museums

sunny 28 °C
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On tuesday, we went to Mexico City's huge park - Bosque de Chapultepec. It was established originally by the aztecs. Today it contains various museums, a lake and lots of food stalls, balloon sellers, face painting stalls, cotton candy and other entertainment. We visited the National Anthropology Museum, which has some great exhibitions on the Aztecz, the Mayans, the Olmecs, and various other ancient Mexican cultures. Very interesting.
Apparantly, the site where Mexico City's Centro Historico is today, (and where our hotel is located), used to be a huge Aztec city, on an island in a lake that has since dried up. In fact, the cathedral on the central square here, is built on top of an Aztec pyramid. The Spanish conquistadores tore the whole city down, to make space for their capital of Nueva Espana.
The Aztecs were, like apparantly most ancient cultures in Central America, a warring culture, who were constantly in conflict with other groups, and who sacrificed humans to apeace their gods, and preserve the world - they believed that the world would otherwise seize to exist.
On wednesday, we moved out of Hostal Moneda, which is way overpriced and has shitty service. Instead we moved into Hotel Buenos Aires, which is the same standard, but at half the price. Then, we went back out to Coyoacan, and visited Frida Kahlo´s house, which is now a museum.
Today, thursday, we visited the Aztec Templo Mayor in the center of town - really gives you an idea of how much more Aztec stuff must be buried underneath Mexico City`s colonial and moderne architecture. We also went to see Diego Rivera`s murals in varous places in town. One of them was originally started in Rockefeller Center in New York, but the Rockefeller family disliked the anticapitalist theme, and had it destroyed. Rivera remade it in the Palacio de Bellas Artes here in town.
Other than that, we are getting a bit tired of the City, as we wait for the tattoo to heal - we are ready to get out of here now. The city has the worst air in the world, and the pollution is really giving me a sore throat. Alan too is getting antsy, and paces round the room in the evening - he just wants to go diving. The city, as any large city, is crowded and busy. Street vendors, musicians, Aztec dancers, police officers on foot and on horseback, goth teenagers, men in suits, traditional peasants, shoeshiners, food vendors - all swarm around you. Traffic, smelly sewers, pollution, dirty alleyways and worn-down sidewalks, mix with churches, museums, colonial architeture, leafy parks and wide boulevards. Its got everything you could want, and yet its not exactly the kind of place you fall in love with and want to stay in. Anyway, we will have to kill a few more days here - should be manageable.
Look at www.flickr.com/photos/divingdog5 for more of our pictures of this chaotic city.

Posted by monkyhands 16:51 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Touchdown in Mexico City

The adventure begins

sunny 27 °C
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On saturday, we caught the 19.25 flight from London Gatwick to Madrid, expecting to catch a connecting flight to Mexico City that evening. In Madrid, we were told that the flight was overbooked, and that we may not get on. This was apparantly due to some airport strike in Brussels, which meant that some people had missed their Mexico flight the previous day. Anyway, we waited a few hours, but in the end we did not get on the plane.
Instead, Iberia put us up in a hotel for the rest of the night. The good news was that they paid us 600 Euroes EACH as compensation!!! We were in shock! This is way more than we had paid for the flight!!! So in essence, Iberia has paid us, to take us across the world, not bad...

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The next day, sunday the 15th, we were put on another flight to Mexico at noon. The flight took around 12 hours, and it was quite shit - the service stunk. We hardly saw the cabin crew through the whole flight. Tired and worn, we made it to Mexico, and checked into our hotel - Hostal Moneda, right next to the Zocalo, the central square. We went out for a quick meal, and then we went straight to bed.
Today, monday, we got up, had breakfast, and then headed of to an area of the city called Coyacan, where Alan had heard of a good tattoo parlour.

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The guy is really talented, and he started on a new tattoo on Al´s arm - too big to finish in one sitting, so we will have to go back later in the week. So far it looks really cool!

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Other than that, Mexico City is great. Its big, bad and dirty - and entertaining, busy and amazing. The weather is lovely, warm in the day, and cooler at night, and the people seem friendly and accomodating. The food is also good, very tasty and spicy, and not at all like Mexican food as we know it from home (its nohing like Gringo´s Cantina in Helsingoer, thát´s for sure ;))

On a bit of a bad note, just writing this blog now, we have already used up 27% of our upload limit for pictures (crap), and therefore it will probably not be possible to upload pictures for all blog entries. We might use Flickr for pictures instead - you can see them there, when there is no space here. I´ll make sure to mention in the blog whenever we upload a batch to there. The link to our pictures there is: www.flickr.com/photos/divingdog5

Anyway, so far so good - watch this space for more news of our travels! And don´t forget there´s a map, link is at the top of the blog, and it shows how far we´ve come etc.

Posted by monkyhands 15:10 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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