Awoke to rain this morning. We did get up and get ready for an 8:00 breakfast, not really believing the rain would end and we could be on our way to the ruins at 9:00. Oh, we of little faith. At 9:00 three taxis arrived to take our group of 12 to the ruins. Juan would be arriving later to join us and the van had already returned to Villahermosa. We got there pretty quickly and had time to explore before Juan was due at 11:15.
Through reading and lectures before the trip I had read that all Maya cities had three structures in common. All had at least one pyramid, all had flat building where, it is assumed, official business took place and all had a ball court for a game they all shared. We do not know if the rules for the game was the same in each community.
As we walked up the entry and turned to the right for our first view of the Palenque ruins
we all had the same sense of wonder. What an amazing first site of any of the mass building the Maya had accomplished. I asked Susy if you got used to this amazing site. She said she has the same feeling each time she enters the site. The first pyramid we saw was the Temple of Skulls. These pyramids are named by those who uncovered them. You can assume many skulls were found during the excavation of this pyramid. Next came the Tomb of Lord Pakal's mother (The Red Room Pyramid). Up a few stairs on this small pyramid tomb and the red paint of the tomb room can still be seen. To the left of this tomb is the amazing Temple of the Inscriptions.
It is under this pyramid that the tomb of Lord Pakal was found. From the size of corridors and of the turns of the stairs it is thought that the tomb was built first, in readiness for Lord Pakal, and the Temple of the Inscriptions was built above it. Sadly, the tomb is now closed to the public.
And them the chance to view the Palacio and all the small rooms that must have been there. From the front it looks like, and is, a difficult climb up for many and appears to be a complete structure. There are easier ways to get up to see the rooms on other sides of the building. The stream and an ancient aqueduct run along the back of the Palacio. As you walk around there are green mounds with the steps to them uncovered indicating how much more there is to be done at this site. For the size of the site it was a surprise how small the ball court is at Palenque compared to other Maya ruins and there appears to be only 1 court on the entire site. Beyond these first buildings is a raised area with more building that have been uncovered. This section is known as The Group of the Cross and includes The Temple of the Foliated Cross, the Temple of the Cross and the Temple of the Sun.
Juan arrived a little late but we did get to walk through a bit more with him and hear more of the details and then off to lunch. Again to delicious grilled fish in an indoor/outdoor environment. After lunch we had a short stop at the museum on the grounds to see some of the artifacts of the time. These include terra cotta carvings, jade jewelry and decorated clay incense burners. There was some of the carvings that show how the language was finally read. Juan was taking a group back to the ruins and for a longer walk. Pennie and I were calling it a day but I wanted to get a book in the shop. I could either catch our bus on its way back down the hill or take a 'jitney cab' for $1.00 and that is what I did --- cab came before the bus. It dropped me off on the street entrance to Chan-Kah and there was about a 1/4 mile walk down the hill. As luck would have it our bus turned in just as a Istarted down the hill. Happily they stopped at the usual thumb signal. What a lucky stop that was! By the time Pennie and I reached our casita, much more quickly than I would have done had I walked, the heavens opened again!!! Those up at the ruins got soaked but also came back after a wonderful walk and time at the falls,.
After a bit the rain stopped and off we went for a swim in that wonderful, beautiful pool.
Little did we know how really cold the water was in this warm spot. It was a surprise to that it was not as easy to get in and out as we expected but it was fun and an opportunity not to be missed. Back for showers. shampoos, a glass of wine and reading on the casita porch --- surrounded by beautiful flowers.
We went up to 6:00 for Reberto's presentationon the Pakal Tomb. Great old photos from the early days of the discovery of the tomb. Theyu were great to see. Everyone gathered for drinks in the bar and then to a Mexican dinner in the dining room. In the bar area they served dished of roasted, salted peanuts and slices off lime to squeeze over the nuts. It was delicious.
After dinner back to the room to pack and get ready for tomorrow. Still raining. Hope it stops for tomorrow.