Palenque-Its all Sweat and Blood
Trip Start Dec 07, 2011
48Trip End Ongoing
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The weather, as in many parts we have visited is oppressive with its humidity and heat. It is suffocating here. I feel I could breathe better under water. This really is as stifling as the devil’s own armpit (unshaven). You simple cannot consume enough water to maintain hydration. Each movement brings forth a fresh torrent of fluid along with valuable salts and minerals and a humongous expenditure of energy. My reserves of fluid, salt, energy, will power and my legendary patience and calmness is wilting rapidly. As each mosquito bites my anger wells in floods; my mutterings are getting louder and coarser. I’ve even challenged one of the little bastards to a boxing match (Queensbury Rules) but the little wimp just buzzed off laughing as it went. The side benefit is that my frenetic nature dissuades other tourist to spend time around me so they traipse off somewhere else rapidly taking some of the nasty little mossies with them; if it wasn’t for the hat I wear I would think I had heat stroke. Let’s hope I can avert any further strange behaviour otherwise the Mexican authorities may call for medical backup. The Cubans export their moustachioed Doctors here too - scary. Just glugged a litre of water in haste. Let’s see if that helps to avoid any further unsympathetic medical care.
Julie tells me that that when she visited in July last year the humidity and heat were far worse than we were experiencing on this visit
Palenque was at its height of power in the 600-800 AD era. It is in the middle of the Jungle in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico. And I mean the middle! Everywhere you look it is just lush green jungle so tightly packed together that wandering from any of the fringe paths may render the helpless tourist…well, quite helpless really! In fact the only way to stray off the path is with a machete as the greenery is very tightly packed. The parts that have been recovered show the palace and the burial ground of the most influential King that this Mayan city produced, some fella called Pacal The Great
As with any of the ancient sites that are available to visit here in the Americas the buildings were built by hand with stone from the foundations to the tip of the roof. And get this, the vast majority were built in geometric shapes in accordance with astrology still relevant to today, solar eclipse and all. They have measured and dissected the available site with lasers and mathematical equations and the accuracy of the buildings with their astronomical alignment is exemplary. In England, at the time of the Mayans power we were still running around in leather loin cloths, having abandoned the benefits of roman influence, ploughing fields with the arse bone of a giraffe (thank you Shirley Valentine). Mind you mud huts were a little more practical than pyramids and very environmentally friendly which I'm sure will please Jeremy clarkson
We did manage to hear a troupe of Howler Monkeys although we did not see them around the site. Bloody hell, their noisy gits; think I’ll stick with the cockerel in the mornings.
The Howler Monkey on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7ze9rArZyk&feature=related
The tomb of the King Pacal The Great is still in place at the base of a pyramid, though no public are allowed down there. In order to preserve it they have produced a model of the stone sarcophagus where you can get an idea of the sheer size of it (see the photo). They are a very similar design to the Egyptian tombs for the pharaohs. The authorities actually cannot remove the sarcophagus as the building has been built around it although all artefacts and bones have been stored elsewhere. Aside from all the science that the Mayans managed to abide by they were as ruthless toward their enemies as they were scared of anything they did not understand as seen with any other ruling race in history. The stories of human sacrifice are very true with constant battles with neighbouring clans, beheading captives and ripping their hearts out – all in a day’s work
We’re off to Tikal in Guatamala in about four weeks. It, apparently, makes this place look like Disneyland.
The big question, of course, is whether Hollywood is right when they say the world will end in December of this year (see 2012 movie). One source at the site stated that Mayans were great ones for celebrations and parties and planning was a big part of their lives. Activities were planned around the stars and movements of the planets. They created sufficient time in their calendar to last many generations which they thought would keep them going for a while. They did not see the purpose of extending their calendar beyond December 2012 because they thought that a few thousand years was sufficient time to organise a diary even for the most avid party planner. And those Mayans did like to party. Anyway can you imagine how much a 1000 year Filofax diary would weigh? It’s no surprise they didn’t bother to extend it.