10: The Mayan Ruins at Palenque

    It's Friday. I wake up later than I expect to, again. It's a cloudy morning, and with little chance of overheating, I do a cursory diagnosis of my radiator fan failure. Fuses, wires, relay, all in working order. The sun is already high, so I put a proper diagnosis off until later. Shortly into my morning drive my appetite hits, right as I pass a small restaurant with the smell of cooked fish in the air. I quickly turn around and find some soft earth to park my kickstand on, to sink and lean my bike a bit more. They're out of my first choice of breakfast, shrimp, so I order a fish fillet, and am pleasantly surprised by a whole fish put in front of me. This is the best tasting fish I've had in Mexico, and I don't even know what kind it is. Anyone with a good eye can identify this tasty grilled delight?

Hunger stop (Veracruz, Mexico 10/29/2010)

Simple, delicious breakfast (Veracruz, Mexico 10/29/2010)

Is that an outboard motor used as a water pump? (Veracruz, Mexico 10/29/2010)

    With a satisfied stomach, next up is to satisfy my mind and soul with skillfully navigating luscious rolling hills, mountains, and gusty plains. The thunderstorm ahead of me keeps it's distance with the help of the wind. But alas, I soon catch up. With foresight, I put my rain pants on a few kilometers ago. I run into an exorbitant number of toll roads and bridges, ranging in price from 19~50 pesos. The rain subsides, and off come the rain pants. I'm all about AGATT, but at some point the afternoon sun hits just right and persuades me to change to Most Gear All The Time. One of these tolls should really use the money they collect for improving the road. It's was the worst roads I've ever driven on. Here's another time I'm glad to be riding a motorcycle. I'm able to maneuver around potholes and cars, and if I happen to not be able to avoid something, a precisely-timed twist-then-letoff of the throttle pushes my front wheel up over the pothole, with the back following suit with the letoff, providing uninterrupted smoothness. At one point, I come upon people transferring the contents from an entire semi that careened off the opposing lane down an embankment and onto the median, upside down. I happen to enter Villahermosa at rush hour, and the sun in setting. To top it off, it begins raining. It's nothing my rain gear can't keep out, and it's helping keep my bike cool, but the stop-and-go traffic is annoying. I see a hotel in the side of the road, and pull in. 250 pesos; 35 cheaper than the previous night's hotel, but without internet. I've gone longer without, and don't hesitate to take the offer. The hotel compound is surrounded by a cement wall and each room having its own garage. I'm very pleased to find the room top quality.

Cheaper price, but much better than the previous night's hotel. (Villahermosa, Villahermosa, Mexico 10/29/2010)

    I'm running low on cash, so I throw on my rain jacket and walk across the street to the gas station to withdraw some mullah from the ATM. While I'm there, I check out what the gasolinera has to offer food-wise, as I'm on the outskirts of the city, it's raining, and I don't see any restaurants in sight. I spy in the bottom shelf of the cooler the biggest beer I've ever laid eyes on. It's a 1.2 liter Corona Mega. I can't resist.

My first Corona Mega (Villahermosa, Villahermosa, Mexico 10/29/2010)

    I spend the rest of the rainy night committing a journal entry, watching a Spanish cartoon, and after half the 40oz remains, remember I should be diagnosing my bike's fan problem. I get the idea to complete the circuit, bypassing the thermal switch (thank you, Carona Mega). I use a pair of scissors to do so, and both fans turn on. This means the thermal switch is bad. This switch is the one I installed when I rewired the original wiring harness to support another fan, with a 12 volt relay added. The new thermal switch turns on at a lower temperature, kicking the fans on sooner and for a longer period of time. I figure the switch is designed to turn on at lower temperatures, and hence, is designed to operate safely at lower temperatures. My guess is that the higher temperature this bike runs at could have either shorted the switch, or prematurely ended its life with more switching on and off. I'm surprised how easy it is to replace, with hardly any radiator fluid coming out when I unscrew it (my main fear with replacing it). I don't wait around for it to start glugging, and quickly screw in the stock thermal switch I've been stowing and wait for tomorrow to test it.

    I wake up Saturday at sunrise and cruise through Villahermosa before traffic congests. I'm close to the first ruins I plan to visit, Palenque, so it's only a little over an hour on the bike. Not long enough to get sore, but enough to build the excitement of seeing my first Mayan ruins. I notice while at a crawling toll, my fans are now turning on. I'm also pleasantly surprised to find my horn starts working. There's no better timing, because, out of habit, I see a dog about to get hit by a driver ahead of me, and press the horn button. My 139 db horn rings in, blaring its dual-tone shriek. The dog leaps in the air and onto the median, escaping certain peril.

    I reach the park entrance and pay my dues to get in (~30 pesos), then wind up the short twisty mountain to the parking area. I park next to about a dozen BMWs. As soon as I back into a parking spot, I'm swarmed by small children selling jewelry. They say nothing, but hold out boards with their wares. When I dismount my bike, I have some older guys (my age) approach, and one offers his service as a guide in the jungle. I tell him I'm here for the ruins and maybe after, but I'll have to see how I feel. There's another fee of 51 pesos I come to find out, to enter the ruins. I get my ticket and enter the site. It's cool and moist under the jungle canopy. I'm struck with awe at how much jungle was cleared by the Mayan people to prepare this site and how much they built.

*Remember, there are usually more pictures in the album than those I post here. This is true of most of my photo albums.
Photo Album / Álbum de Fotos

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Fungus growing over the moist stone. (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Mayan Ruins (Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

    Climbing ruins for a couple hours, I've worked up quite an appetite. I would like to have gone in the jungle, and while walking around I had quite a few offers for guides, so I knew who to go to for a good deal. I'm satisfied with my experience, and I'm to be on my way. Returning to my bike, I find a card from Alberto and Naomi, saying they've seen me on ADVRider and wish me safe travels. I stop at a hilltop restaurant I noticed on the road to the ruins. It's the fanciest restaurant I've been to in Mexico. The waiters speak English, and the menus are in German, English, and Spanish. These are both firsts in Mexico. I guess that shows something about the places I've chosen to eat at in the past. I, again, order fish. It's the only meat that's appetizing to me, and I feel the need for protein and fat-rich sustenance. As I'm eating, I notice 4 BMWs zoom by with stickered panniers strapped with gear.

Los Leones Restaurant; very fancy. (Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Fish, fries, legume, beat, carrot, sprite, lemonade, bread, chips, and salsa. (Chiapas, Mexico 10/30/2010)

    The ride to Campeche is amazing. I don't want it to stop. When I get to the Gulf, the weather is much calmer than before. The water is a beautiful chalky blue-green, similar to what I'm used to in Florida, minus the chalky opaque appearance. I'm trying to make it to Campeche for a close start to the next slew of ruins I plan to visit in the coming days.

The Gulf of Mexico is starting to look blue-green, beautiful. (Campeche, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Palm trees, Feels like Florida (Campeche, Mexico 10/30/2010)

Backatcha! (Campeche, Mexico 10/30/2010)

    The sun is again setting, and I am, again, still riding. The roads are getting very twisty on the coast. It's too good to stop, so I continue on. My GPS says I'll arrive in Campeche just before sundown, so I don't fret. I love the roads with the signs that read "Curva Pelegrosa" (Dangerous curve)! I stop at a Hotel outside Campeche, which looks like the coral castle, but they want over 1200 pesos for a night ($100). Without hesitation, I get on the bike and back onto the curvas. The first hotel I come to in Campeche is a Holiday Inn, but they also have a ridiculous price for the night of over 1000 pesos. The next hotel is a little better, at 800 pesos, but that's still nearly 3 times the price I've spent on any hotel in Mexico thus far. All of these hotels have been right on the Gulf, so I try my luck hunting inland. As I arrive at the Avenida Hotel, the ominous storm clouds start unleashing their fury. Their price is a little more swallowable, 500 pesos, and with it staring to come down outside, I'm ready to call it quits hotel-shopping.


Labels: , , , , , , ,