Another report from Vic (GOPC staff) & crew. They are traveling from California to Patagonia, Chile. Read more on their BLOG: http://southbound-horizons.blogspot.com
Peeking through the surrounding clouds within the sheltered pine forest, San Cristobal de las Casas welcomed us with a misty drizzle. We stayed at a lovely hostel and ventured into the colonial town of Chiapas to explore among the patter of the rain. The cool mountain air and small droplets gave us new energy on a trip full of sun and heat. Dancing among the puddles we wondered around amazing markets, met friendly artisans, sipped warm hot chocolate and ate tasty pastries. The nights gave way to new friends made in the comfortable hostel where pasta dinners, fresh juices, posh and tasty salads were split among new amigos from six different countries. Day trips to San Juan Chamula allowed us to take a look into an exclusively Mayan village, where animal sacrifices and old healing methods still take place within the church and colorful markets clutter the plaza square. Picture taking is forbidden for it steals the soul of the subject. Many hugs and emails were exchanged as we departed San Cristobal de las Casas and all the friendly travelers we met.
On the way to visit the jungle ruins of Palenque and Calakmul a long Zapatista road block stalled our progress along the mountain roads. A night in the jungle had us awakening to the calls of howler monkeys and an early entrance into the famous ruins of Palenque. Tall Mayan pyramids shadowed the jungle below as cool water creeks weaved in and out of the lofty structures. Walking among the tourists we headed out of the park, overwhelmed and looked forward to the less visited ruins of Calakmul. After a long drive through the canopy covered highway to the ranger station of Calakmul we made friends with the forest rangers and set up camp. With some enthusiastic natural history lessons and solid advice on a sunrise start to the ruins, we slept among wild mountain turkeys dreaming of exploring the 100 sq/km with 6500 structures, hidden like gems in the dense overgrowth. An alpine start had us on top of one of the pyramids for the sunrise over the rainforest where monkeys jumped through trees, howlers awoke the jungle, colorful birds flew toward the sun, and ones eyes lost focus as the jungle stretched beyond view in all directions. Playing explorer we had the ruins to ourselves to discover as we climbed tropical trees, uncovered hidden pottery, slept in Mayan mansions, yelled over the canopy, chassed wild turkeys and wandered the miles of overgrown trails. We finished a 12 hour day of running around the ruins with an amazing sunset as we sat atop of the jungle canopy looking towards Guatemala and reflecting upon our solitude within the ancient capitol city of the kingdom of the Serpents Head.
Leaving the Mayan ruins and thick jungle we departed Mexico after two months of travel through such an amazing country. A hint of remorse arose, yet was soon healed by the ocean breeze, crystal blue-green water and unique Caribbean vibes of Belize. With only a little trouble and many hoops to jump through at the border we were soon cruising down the Hummingbird highway, through fields of sugar cane and rows of citrus trees, with our passports stamped.