Viva Mexico! Niu Countri...

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Where I stayed
Posada Kin - $28 ensuite, fan, clean, friendly,hot water

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Monday, July 28, 2008

Dont we all love early mornings!! And getting up at 3.30 am to travel for eight hours beats any other excitement!

So off we went at 4.30 a.m. on a short van trip from our hostel to the town of Santa Elena (where the Island of Flores is). It was then that we realised how close Flores was and that we could have done a day trip to it...but we just felt to lazy and relaxed at El Remate to make the effort of taking a bus.
Just in case anyone was wondering what we missed, here is a link of Flores, which sadly looks like a real nice place, but is overrun by gringo and other tourists so is probably best avoided unless for a short visit:
Link: http://www.guatemalaviajes.com/flores.htm

Back to our trip, at 5.30 am another bus arrived with 20 other red eyed tourists on the same direction. The bus took us to the Guatemalan frontier in a scenic 4 hour ride, with started smoothly but then turned into a dirt road after one hour.

Marcos was happy that the dirt road appeared as that kept the driver awake. Until then all the rest of the passengers (except Vero) had fallen asleep, and the driver seemed to want to do the same thing while on the wheel. As Marcos was sitting next to him he kept chatting about football, Spain, etc to keep him going!

At the frontier we got our stamps on our passports, and paid our respective 40 Quetzales exit tax ($4.20).

The bus then took us to the river Usumacinta where we boarded on small vessels for a 45 minute ride up the river and  over to Chiapas, Mexico. No need to say the river trip is a great experience, covered by dense jungle on both sides (Link: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%ADo_Usumacinta ).

We disembarked at Chiapas...famous region for its rebelious indigenous community in 1994...had our entry stamp (nothing paid until exit), and finished our long trip with another 3 hour bus ride to Palenque.

We immediately noticed that there is still quite a strong military and police presence in Chiapas and our van was stopped twice in order to check who was travelling. The policeman each time asked for our nationalities and if there was any local mexicans he would ask them what diallects they spoke. The Chiapas girl said she spoke "Cholo" which is the local indian language, and they let us continue. She said that they are normally looking for Guatemalans trying to get into the country.

Sounds like the typical Lonely Planet Guidebook Travel Hint: "if you are an illegal Guatemalan trying to cross into Mexico when asked what dialect you speak, we recommend you say Cholo" (anyone who has the Lonely Planet guides will recognise what we are referring to...the latest one we read for Belize was "Travel Hint: travel in groups to have negotiating power"...thanks Lonely Planet).

Anyway, for more information on the Chiapas recent rebellions: Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapatista_Army_of_National_Liberation

Actually, we had to stop a third time before Palenque when one of the Italians travelling on the van crazily asked the driver to stop so he could use the "toilet". The moment he halted the Italian jumped out of the back door and rushed into the bushes. His girlfriend mentioned something about "immodium" in Italian so we reached the conclusion that the fart smell that we had suffered twice during the trip had much to do with his stomach condition.

Finally we made it to Palenque, and easily enough we found our hotel and checked into our room.

Palenque itself is quite a lively town, with lots of shops and restaurants as well as many products and services we had not seen in a long, long time. The place is not a jewel of architectural value, or has anything interesting in it apart from the shopping and eating possibilities, but it is a sufficiently nice place in order to visit the Mayan ruins tomorrow and move on to other places after that.

We are lucky to have arrived before the first week of August, as Palenque is going to be packed with people celebrating the festivity of San Agustin (there is a fair already set up). 

Another nationality we had not seen since Peru are the Israeli groups, which have reappeared here in quite large numbers. As a matter of fact there are quite a few hebrew names of restaurants and hotels in this area so it must be a hot spot for them.

Thats everything for today. We decided to write this summary early in order to enjoy a nice relaxing tamal dinner with a bit of Mexican beer tasting in celebration of this new country. Also, its about 40 degrees celsius outside!

Cheerio! Viva Mexico! (they pronounce the "x" as a spanish "j" here)
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