Palenque By sv Prairie SeaShell on 7 Dec, 2012 3:51 PM
We walked out to the road to Palenque and a collectivo arrived in just a few minutes to take us to the entrance of the ruins.
The bus to Palenque arrived right on schedule and once again we enjoyed the scenery along the way. Unfortunately the pictures taken from the rather dirty and scratched window didn’t turn out very well.
It was nice however to return to a warmer climate and we enjoyed lunch at the café next door to our hotel.
Went for a walk into town, sounds like a pretty wild place, lots of noisy tiendas and bars and many backpacker type hotels.
Glad that our guide book suggested taking a hotel outside of the downtown area.
In the morning, went back to town for a $3.00 breakfast at a little restaurant we had spotted the day before.
Then we walked out to the road to Palenque and a collectivo arrived in just a few minutes to take us to the entrance of the ruins. Many guides waiting here to take us on a tour of the ruins, but we wanted to share the cost of an English tour with someone else, so waited almost an hour to see if someone would come along, but no luck. So, eventually one of the guides brought his price down to something we felt we could do on our own.
First stop was at the Temple of the Inscriptions. This is one of the few Mayan ruins that had a burial chamber built into it at the time of its construction.
Pakal’s tomb was found nine levels below the temple, down a zig zag staircase, signifying the 9 levels of the underworld.
The original crypt of PakaL has been relocated to the Museum in Mexico City, but there are several replicas around, one of which was in a museum that we visited in San Cristobal (748).
The lid of the sarcophagus, which was made of a solid piece of stone, was carved to tell the story of Pakal’s death & resurrection. This replica of the lid was in our hotel in Palenque.
Thirteen “houses” and a tower with 4 patios make up El Palacio (The Palace) thought to be the center of life and duties for Palenque’s nobility.
The tower stands almost in the center of the complex, some believe it to be an observatory, others believe it to be a watch tower. The top of the tower is almost level with the level of Pakal’s temple, and on the winter solstice the sun, viewed from the tower, sets directly above his crypt.“
These “royal residences” were quite advanced for their time, they had stone bed chambers and even had ‘indoor’ plumbing.
They would have to squat over the “toilet” which would flush into an aqua duct that ran below the complex, the aqua duct was lined with charcoal to treat the sewage.
And, since women never go to the bathroom by themselves, there was a multi-holed room for the women.
After our visit to Palenque, we headed back to Cozumel for a few more days of diving, then returned to Playa de Carmen for a day or two. About the only thing we recognized in Playa from our last visit there over 20 years ago, was the hotel we stayed in.
When we were there last time, there were only about 3 hotel and only one bank. Now there are too many hotels to count, and an ATM machine on every corner.
We took a side trip from Playa on a local bus to the ruins at Cobà. The ruins at Cobà are not well advertised and there hasn’t been much restoration done on the site so I expected there would be very few people there. Wrong! Because it is close enough to Playa for a day trip, there were tons of tour busses there and loads of people.
Each of the sites at Cobà are quite far apart, so many of the visitors chose to rent a bicycle, or a bicycle with a driver for a rather costly sum. I’m sure that most of the visitors who rented bikes had not ridden a bike since childhood, and for those of us who chose to walk from site to site, we had to be on the look-out for out of control bikers so as not to get run over.
Cobà’s claim to fame is that it has one of the highest pyramids of the Mayan world, and we managed to get all the way to the top, climbing over 150 stairs. There is really no town at Cobà like there was at Palenque, but the government has spruced up the entrance to the ruins with a wooden boardwalk along the lake and a zip line across it.
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