18. Palenque

Mexico

Love getting up at 4:30am for a 5am bus (said no one ever). It was a long, slow, winding, speedbump-laden drive, and that was just to our breakfast stop in Ocosingo. As is the nature of tours, they take you to uber-expensive restaurants where there is no option but to pay the exorbitant fee for all the food you don't want. Unless you're hungry. I'm not the nicest person to be around when I'm hungry. I paid. 

 

An hour and a half later we arrived at Agua Azul, a series of cascades and rockpools with light blue, almost milky water. It was absolutely stunning and looked like a great place to swim. I didn't mind that the water was only waist deep, but when it was that cold I wasn't going to be spending long in there, no matter how hot it was outside. 

Another stop, another waterfall. Misol-Ha was a single cascade that we could walk around the back of. It was great, but we really wanted to get to Palenque, the main reason for the bus trip. No amount of glaring at the bus drivers and glancing at watches would hurry them up.

Palenque was fantastic, as much for the wildlife as for the ruins. It was set in a jungle, with large patches of dense foliage and small waterfalls running down the sides of the hills. The ruins weren't spectacular, although some had trees growing through the middle of them and others offered decent views. The monkeys and two-foot-long lizards running around added another element of awesomeness to the place, so overall we gave it a big thumbs up.

It worked out well that we arrived late in the day, as most of the other visitors had left by this stage. There were times it felt like had the place to ourselves. As someone who will wait for 10 minutes for one person to get out of my shot before I take a photo,  this suited me perfectly.

 

Our bus dropped us off in Palenque town, where we had almost six hours to wait for our next joyride: another overnight bus. The time was spent mostly eating and using free wifi where we could find it, as the town had absolutely nothing going for it (for tourists, that is - I'm sure it is a lovely town for the residents). It was a toss up if the long wait or our actual bus ride was more excruciating. No blanket, no pillow, less leg room and numerous overnight stops announced over the loudspeaker, accompanied by bright lights. To top it off the authorities came on board at one point in the middle of the night, wanting to see everyone's passport. For some idiotic reason mine was in my backpack under the bus. The officer must have thought I looked "white" enough and let it go. To say it was a long night is an understatement.

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