October 08, 2003

Palenque, Mexico

I'm traveling alone again. I came 16 hours by bus this morning from Oaxaca to Palenque to see the ruins here - once the capital of the Mayan world. I arrived on the heels of tropical storm Isabelle, though it continues to pour at night. The trip through the mountains in the rain was an experience. At times I would look down through the window and see only cliff side for several hundred feet, with no guardrail at all. More impressive still were the drivers that share that road. They pilot their huge trucks - passing and weaving around blind corners on these roads with a nonchalance that boarders on suicidal.

After several days of torrential rains, today was the first hot day. I have never felt humidity like this in my life. I have been soaking wet all day - not just in the jungle, but back in town. Now as I write this in bed, as I go get something to eat; all the time. Every scrap of paper I have is soggy just from exposure to the air.

Fear of the storms that have pounded this area have done wonders to keep most of the tourists away. The hostel I'm in now has seven bunks but I'm the only one here. Just as well, as all my wet laundry is hanging around the room in a futile attempt to dry it. There's a washing machine right outside my door, but as is the norm here, no dryer. The washing machine, it turned out, wasn't even for public use. After loading it up with all my muddy clothes from the ruins, I couldn't help but notice not much was happening once I hit the "on" switch. The panel lit up ok, and the extension cord (which lay in a puddle of water) seemed to be plugged in alright. A little investigation turned up a shortage plumbing into the machine. None. No drainage either for that matter. A quick look around the area showed how they do laundry here: a garden hose is used to fill the machine to the right level, then at the end of the cycle, the drain hose is placed over the rail to drain into the yard - which is just what I had begun to do when the owner/maid came along and tore a strip off me for using her machine. Oh well. I finished my laundry in the sink.

I've exacted compensation by removing the speed limiter on the fans in the room, and am currently basking in their strong breeze. I don't think they were counting on guests having a pair of pliers and a few screwdrivers with them. The limiters, I think, were to prevent overloading the wiring in the building. The lights dimmed as soon as I did it. I'm getting my 60 Pesos worth.

I leave tomorrow morning at 6am to cross into Guatemala to the ruins in Tikkal. Lightning and thunder crash outside. Bed time.

Posted by dhuska at October 8, 2003 08:29 PM