After having a short night of sleep in the jungle between howlermonkeys and tons of mosquitos, I find myself in a bus, on my way to Guatemala, for the next ten hours. Which means I finally had the time to write this blogpost. Which also means I’m leaving a country behind that scores high on my ‘to visit again’ bucketlist – honestly, I need another life to visit all these places again, but I will, eventually -.
Mexico is beautiful. Actually, that sentence covers it all. Nature, culture, history, colour, all is mixed up perfectly in every single place you visit. Between Mexico City and now, I travelled to and through Oaxaca City, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Palenque and surroundings. The surroundings outdo the cities, let’s face it, what could be better than swimming in natural pools and waterfalls, climbing pyramids in the jungle or hear howlermonkeys in the middle of the night?
So first stop, Oaxaca City. Colourfull, surrounded by mountains, beautiful views from my hostel’s roofterrace. Gold cathedral and tons of Maya remnants in the museum. Markets and mole and mezcal – the mezcal festival, for approximately 3,5 euros all you can taste…beware of your stomach though –. And then the highlight of Oaxaca: crammed in a tiny shaking collectivo van, driving through sandways and dirt tracks all the way to Hierve el Agua, a petrified waterfall surrounded by natural pools, panorama of the mountains in the background. This was only the beginning, I didn’t know yet how much more grandness of nature I would see.
San Cristobal de las Casas was more my city. I wasn’t so overwhelmed by Oaxaca, but liked San Cristobal so much the more. The colourfull streets, the labyrinth of a handicraft market – I must confess I wandered around up there three days in a row -, again mountains surrounding it, the crazy owner of the orchid gardens, the salsa dancing in the evening and little Cusca – or Couscous, the hostel dog – biting your toes. A horseride to San Juan Chamula, only to watch indegenous people perform ancient rituals – a very intimate and peculiar atmosphere, involving killing a chicken – and boatride through de Canon del Sumidero. Saw some crocodiles, tiny and big ones, pelicans and waterfalls. The first of more to come. Met some awesome people, who I met again in Palenque. I guess half San Cristobal showed up.
Palenque was absolutely my favorite place of all. Got a tip in Mexico City – Thanks Ly – to go to El Panchan, in the jungle, right next to the national park with the ruines of Palenque. Without reservations and 10 hours on a bus instead of 5, I made enough friends to share a room with. Fans and beds, all you need, no? Hearing bugs buzzing and monkeys screaming at night, seeing toucans, lizards and monkeys at daytime, this place forms the perfect surrounding to do some jungle exploring. And there was a great Mexican – Italian restaurant as well, sounds like heaven in the jungle. Or like paradise, as the waterfalls of Roberto Barrios…waterfall after waterfall after waterfall, ‘easy’ – except the one where I started sliding down on my ass – to climb up, with different pools on different heights and logs to jump off. Magical and paradise in one place. Luckily, I visited first the waterfalls at Agua Azul, a bit more touristy and smaller, so I was the more surprised and enthralled at Roberto Barrios.
And I didn’t even speak about the ruins yet, the main reason why I definitely wanted to visit Palenque. Imagine these huge pyramids hidden between the bushes in the jungle. Building after building, ruin after ruin hidden by hundreds of years of greenery growing on top of it. Stories of Mayan citizens that are long forgotten. Monkeys in the trees that grow out of the remnants of a Maya house. Wondering how on earth they were able to build such grandness. Sweating by climbing staircase after staircase, very happy with a cold shower afterwards. I was impressed.
Next stop: Flores, Guatemala!