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Saturday 10th April - The world's most memorable bus ride, two waterfalls and Palenque, the lost jungle city.
By Claire
Sunday, 11th April 2004 23:00

The bus stopped at Cascades las Agua Azul (Blue Water Cascades, I guess) which lived up to its name, but it was filthy. Really disgusting. It had taken about 5 hours to get here and the place was packed with holidaying Mexicans (this is their big holiday week), rubbish, overflowing loos, rotting fruit and street vendors. We dutifully climbed to the top of the waterfall, and as far up-river as I could manage I paddled a bit. Without the rubbish and the stinking loos it could have been a glorious natural beauty spot, as Mikey's picture here shows.

The spectacular blue water cascades

Then back into the bus and up the mountain again to another waterfall and a sandwich, and on to Palenque. Although the bus ride was some sort of black comedy, the scenery through which we passed was quite lovely. It was proper jungle country with little Indian villages dotted around, a couple of army road blocks (this is also bandit country, and there was evidence of some sort of guerrilla activity in the area - masked gunmen on the back of trucks, political slogans like 'A New Sun Rising for a New Time' and some sort of black and yellow symbols on buildings), eagles and mango trees and palm trees and hibiscus flowers. Some of it almost looked like an English country estate, with lush green grass, oak trees (mangoes) and deer (cows or goats) if you took out the palm trees.

When we finally got to Palenque at about 4pm it was hot. I mean that. I can cope with heat, it's a happy place for me. But this was hotter than anywhere I have been in my entire life. Hotter than the Underground in London in August last year. I want to say that it was in the fifties (centigrade) but it was probably only the high forties, just the unbearable humidity making it feel like we were going to die. Seriously. This place was hot. Summoning all our strength, dripping from everywhere, our clothes an unpleasant wet weight bearing down on us, we climbed a couple of the most beautiful Mayan ruins in the world, but that was all we could manage. It really was the most spectacular place I have seen, but I'm hoping that our photos will do justice to it, we were in no state to enjoy it at the time!

A view of Palenque. It was hot.

The bus dropped us back in the town at 10.30, and by 11 I was asleep with a migraine. Mikey managed to light the fire first, something we'd joked about all day, but I don't really remember that.

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