Last stop in Mexico!
17 February 2011 | Puerto Madero, Chiapas, Mexico
Temple of the Inscriptions, at the Mayan ruins in Palenque, Mexico
Last stop in Mexico
Chiapas...hmmm...what can I say? Well, it's about 20 miles from the border of Guatemala, brown, DIRTY, barren, hot, and VERY poor. This is when I come to realize that being in Mexico has been like being in Disneyland, and we ain't there anymore as we near the border. This port is home to a very large shrimping and tuna fleet, including a tuna processing plant turning this port into the most gooey, foul smelling, disgusting water port we have ever been. The largest tuna fishing vessel actually has a helicopter on it, I guess to fly out ahead looking for signs of the fish, then they deploy these small tender boats off of it so they can round them up by surrounding them with nets. I still have visions of video I had seen a long time ago with dolphins being trapped in the nets and dying. (I think I've said this before, but seeing this makes it practically impossible for me to eat fish of any kind.)
What the people lack in "things", they more than make up for in niceness. This is where we do our official "check out" of Mexico. Meaning we are boarded by the Navy, inspected, complete all the necessary paperwork, and have a drug dog on board to wander around, (I always have this lingering fearful thought...What if the last owners of this boat hid some drugs somewhere and forgot to take them with them?...). Everyone was very polite and professional, thank God, because Larry wasn't there (that's a whole 'nother story), and it was just Ben and I when they came on board. The Navy and the dog went away with treats, homemade chocolate chip cookies for the boys and dog treats for the canine. Cool! Larry eventually shows up with a story of walking to the port captains office to check out, then taking a collectivo to town,( a pick-up truck/taxi that everyone just piles in the back of the bed, that a cage has sort of been built around with two benches on either side but it's sort of more comfortable to just stand and hang on for dear life to the metal frame), then a cab to the airport to immigration, then...no cab back? Hmmmm...where'd they go?...so he starts walking...and walks for fifteen minutes, then starts hitchhiking (this IS part of the adventure isn't it?!) A car stops, whom the driver turns out to be the helicopter mechanic for the huge tuna fishing vessel in the harbor near us. He is a blessing for Larry, who speaks very poor Spanish and this man doesn't speak English either, but he gets him back to where our dinghy is tied up so Larry can make it back to our anchored boat. Yes folks, this is another one of those "only in Mexico moments". We would never think of hitchhiking where we came from in California.
The great thing about Chiapas was that it was close enough for us to be able to take a really fantastic road trip to the Palenque ruins. Mayan ruins and culture we were in the mood for and Palenque was supposed to be the best. I never would have dreamt this but I am becoming quite good at looking at maps, researching areas, reading the Lonely Planet guides, figuring out bus schedules, and taking our family on some really cool adventurous trips! However, we always travel with the mindset that we're not really sure what we're getting ourselves into, but we'll just make the best of it. This one was a hit. An eight hour luxury bus ride to the colonial town of San Cristobal de Las Casas, staying in a beautiful old hacienda, a tour of Sumidero Canyon in a speed boat (totally cool) was like traveling through Yosemite Valley on a river including monkeys and crocodiles, a spectacular 5 hour drive in another luxury bus to Palenque where we stayed in an eco-lodge (howler monkeys and all), and a tour of the Palenque ruins and museum. We really felt ready to move on after this road trip and bid farewell to Mexico. Thank you Mexico for a wonderful fourteen months!
See Palenque and Waterfall picture gallery!