|Guatemala to the left of me, Mexico to the right,|
here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Sorry that these blogs are coming thick and fast at the moment but we are seeing some good shit and need to share!
Yaxchilan lies beside the broad, brown Usumacinta River that forms the Eastern border between Mexico and Guatemala. It takes 40 minutes on a motorized 40ft long canoe from Frontera Corozo to get there. A journey in which one becomes hypnotized by the drone of the engine, the sound of thrumming water beneath you and the dense green jungles on either bank. Vultures and monkeys loiter in branches and crocodiles bask on the muddy banks whilst birds glide by above in the brilliant blue sky. Leaving the jetty you have to walk up some steep steps and then along a jungle path until suddenly you are see the first of the Mayan ruins festering amidst the virulent vegetation.
Towering trees laden with vines, creepers and dense foliage filter the sunlight into shafts of brilliance which light patches of the jungle floor alive with leaf cutting ants who hurry in never ending lines into the bushes. Howler monkeys roar to one another in a fearful chorus and the ever present noise of Jungle insects fills the air. It’s not quite the Cambodian experience of going to Ta Prohm but here, conversely, there are hardly any tourists so you can just immerse yourself in the sounds and sights and get a real feel for the place. We wandered around for two hours ‘discovering’ the same stuff as others before us and taking little paths to find the more hidden gems as well. Eventually we emerged with me sodden and dripping in so much sweat you would have thought I had fallen into the river.
Next stop the ruins of Bonampak. The thing with these, which again are situated in the jungle but this time down a very long dirt track, are the murals that are still in pretty good condition with all of the original paint still in place. It’s only when you see this painted stucco covering that you can picture how impressive these cities were in their heyday. All we get to see are the basic constructs. But to have seen them coated, painted and topped with all the inherent wooden aspects would have been astonishing. And through the eyes of the Mayans (who had neither the wheel or iron tools at their disposal) truly humbling.
The last of our ruinous two days are those of Palenque. A site of 15sq km of which only a portion has been excavated. The surrounding jungle is thick and jealous of giving up its treasures that have been hidden for hundreds of years and to unearth and maintain it all would be a mammoth task. These Mayan ruins are once again unique in their offering to the tourist. Big, impressive and fantastically displayed against the verdant backdrop. Some dominating clearings of many hundreds of metres square, others mere piles of stonework amidst the undergrowth. Here, however, you can enter inside some of the buildings and wander in the damp stultifying tunnels that are home to bats and spiders.
We are ruined out but am sure we will find some more. Pictures of above now in the gallery