On The Road: San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque

Ugh! I’m glad no one told me the trip from San Cris to Palenque would be so long and grueling! We dropped from 7,000 feet altitude to sea level in what should have been a 4-hour trip under normal circumstances. But the tour van (350 pesos per person arranged by our hostel) made three stops and the trip took almost eight hours. We were the last pick up at 6 am so we got to sit over the rear axle.

I’m traveling with Tracey Ponting from Perth, Australia, who I met on the night bus from Oaxaca to San Cris last week when I was traveling with Fay Sims from Vancouver, Canada. This is how things work when you are on the road. You end up meeting travelers who are simpatico. Thanks to Tracey and her magic medicine Stugeron, an over-the-counter anti-motion sickness pill made by McNeil pharma (15 mg, generic is cinarizine), who knows what would have happened!

This tour van is a round trip one-day excursion. Most of the passengers got 1-1/2 hours at the archeological site and then made the return trip to San Cris on the same day. Crazy, I say. The trip includes admission, so Tracey and I got a preview of this extraordinary Mayan city before in we settled into our hotel, the delightful Xilbalba, and had a lovely dinner of grilled tilapia (fresh and local) before collapsing into bed at 9 pm. Oh, I forgot to mention the two beers I drank in quick succession as the appetizer.

Some tips worth mentioning:

The tourist van trip makes a breakfast stop at 9 am, then a stop at Agua Azul, a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole at 1 pm, then a stop an hour later at a second waterfall Cascada de Misol-ha (best of the two) and lunch and then gets to Palenque at 3:30 pm. My recommendation is to skip this and take the OCC bus directly to Palenque unless you love waterfalls. They need to revise the trip to give more time at the ruins and drop the 1st waterfall.

Stay at Posada del Abuelito in San Cristobal de las Casas if you are on a budget. Rob, Rebecca, and Alexandra are wonderful hosts. You can get a private room with bath for 280 pesos. Ok, so I was old enough to be everyone’s grandma, but who cares! They took really good care of me. find them on Facebook or TripAdvisor.

Stay at Hotel Xibalba in Palenque. Book online and save 15%. Clean, friendly, delightful and a bargain at $45USD per night. HOTEL XIBALBA

Do adventure travel when you are young. You are a lot more resilient and can scale those archeological sites like a gazelle. I think I will be trudging up to the top today, poco a poco, and my short legs will have to get up steps that are almost my height! But, I also seem to be a role model for the youngsters who wish their parents were like me. New motto: better later than never. A friend recently wrote–keep on keepin’ on.

This is coming to you from my iPad. I left my computer in SC. I haven’t quite figured out how to get the photos from my disk loaded onto this and them uploaded to the blog. Trying to keep up with the technology. My plan today is to record the howler monkeys. The calls I heard back and forth at dusk last night sounded like I was in an ashram. It took me a while to figure out these were monkeys I’m hearing. Eerie, given the setting. Mystical. Meditative.

Tomorrow, I’m taking a day trip to Bonampak on the Guatemala border in the Lancondon jungle. I think it’s a straight road.
Photo at Agua Azul:


Photo at Misol-ha:


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