Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 7: My life in Ruins

Today started off with another early morning. This time it was to catch the bus to Palenque. One the way, I decided to do some prep for the upcoming adventure of the day. I watched a beloved movie of mine...
 Road to El Dorado. :D
Ok it's not totally about Mayans but we were going to Palenque to see ruins. Actually there were some similarities between the movie and the things we learned about the Mayans.

Back to the day...

We got to Palenque and realized that it was SUPER hot there. Mostly muggy. So we changed at the hostel and then caught a kombi to the ruins. 

Mi kombi primero (my first kombi)!

It actually wasn't too bad.

It wasn't a very long bus ride to the ruins and once we got there, everyone decided we were going to take a guided tour. Honestly, I wasn't really into it because I feel like money just kind of disappears on vacations... But it turned out to be a really good thing. Our guide was pretty funny and had tons of information about each of the ruins and the jungle we went through. We didn't get a whole lot of time since the park closed at 5 but we were able to see just about everything. 

First, we saw the palace. This was where the King lived and our guide told us about the King Pacal. He actually had a limp that is depicted in one of the murals on the palace pillars. 

There was another mural that was the coronation of the king. It is his mother on the left giving the crown to Pacal. I think the Queen's name was also Pacal. Don't quote me on that though.

There were other murals in the palace. There was "Mickey Mouse"... and other random carvings...

To the right is a carving of the God of Rain. I don't remember his real name... 

Inside the palace was the royal court where there were certain seats for the rulers. The chief would sit in a special place where the sun would come through the window at a certain time and illuminate the spot where he sat. Pretty smart construction if you ask me!

From this court we could look out and see what was apparently once a ball court! They played the game similar to the one in "Road to El Dorado". Too cool. I would totally love to play this game. Kinda like futbol but you play with your hip and you have to get it through a hoop. 

Near the court there was this tower where they charted the stars and created the mayan calandar....
"Stars... Can't do it... Not today."

 The doorways were so short, I barely fit through them. It was kinda funny to feel like I was tall for a change. 

That rock table? That's actually a bed. Now take a moment to appreciate that your bed is not actually a slab of limestone. Go ahead. Think about it. :)
We wandered some more and our guide was kind enough to show us how the bathroom was used by the Mayans. This is his demonstration. Classy, no?

Then we were shown the aqueducts that they built. The water came from natural springs near the temples. 

Avocado anyone? 

Or perhaps a banana? 

Next stop was the temple of the sun. I think how it worked was on the summer solstice the sun would shine through the top in a certain way... again don't quote me on it. There were lots of cool inscriptions on it. I think it was one of my favorite temples. 

Next to it was the temple of the shaman, or the medicine man... or maybe it was the priest... no, It's the shaman's temple. It seriously had a million stairs. Ok, not quite that many but I can imagine that this shaman either never came down from the temple or had legs of steel. The view from the top of the temple was beautiful though. you could see everything. And hear everything. There were these howler monkeys that sounded pretty angry. I thought it might be a jaguar at first but the guide said it was howler monkeys. Go figure. They really do howl. 

Then we ventured into the jungle. There were tons of huge trees (as is to be expected)...

And lots of vines to swing on and pretend I'm Jane of the Jungle!

I think this is leftover ruins of another pyramid. The jungle took over the pyramids before they were uncovered again. Some ruins weren't able to be uncovered though... I call this one the hobbit hole. :)
While walking through the jungle, it started to rain really hard but none of the raindrops hit us. We were totally dry under the canopy of the jungle trees. I thought that was pretty cool. Continuing our journey, our guide was following us and then suddenly stopped and looked at the ground where I was standing. Now you know when your guide freaks out, there's got to be something wrong. So I'm standing still all worried and all I can say is "QUE?" (what?). Then he just laughs at me. Funny scare. Ha... At least there wasn't anything really there. 

And then our tour was over and it was time to go home for a nap. Hooray! All the adventures and walking was starting to wear on me. But I definatly enjoyed the day's adventure and learning more about the Mayans. It was cool to wonder what story from the Book of Mormon would talk about this place, or who lived here, Nephites or Lamanites? I won't know till I ask them in heaven but it would be cool to really know what everything meant and what the people were like and such. 

All in all, a pretty love like crazy day. :) 

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