The sun is rising quite fast and it’s getting hot quickly. When we get to the reception at 7:50 our driver is already waiting in the lobby. We are accompanied by a couple from Denmark. Although already in their late fifties they seem really fit and keen on travelling. The Subaru minibus we hop in – like the ones in Indonesia – is constructed for rather small people. Yeah, I’m loving it… well, not . I’m trying to keep my legs in between the front seats in order to find myself a little more space. While being on the road we get out a bag of dried platano and nacho chips and use the peanutbutter we bought as a dip. At least it’s SOME kind of breakfast. Yet, we get some funny-scolding remarks by the guys sitting behind us, looking at our “healthy” meal: “Geez, Kids… You always should have a decent and healthy breakfast when you are travelling!“ .
Border to Mexiko –
At the Guatemalan side of the border we find a tiny shag for the emigration. From the looks of the house it can’t have taken more than 3-4 days to build it and set up the small generator for electricity outside. While our passports get checked, we have some time to chat with the other guys. They’ve been to quite a few places within Guatemala and spark our interest to revisit this country “for real” this time – you cannot say you “visited” a country just by seeing one place, right? There is an area with a beautiful lake they’ve visitied which was sited in a pittoresque volcano-valley. I really want to go there one day and go for a volcano-hike as well. I can really imagine to have a 2-3-week trip here – a pitty we do not have more time right now…
As the couple has also already been to San Cristobal, but only managed to pass by Palenque, this is where they are heading now too. The road between Palenque and San Cristobal is supposed to be pretty rough they tell us, but we already decided to go anyway. Can’t be that bad, can it?
Compared to the quick emigration, the immigration to Mexico seems to take forever. There is not much traffic on the pretty new road, so it seems the guards get a little bored. At least they are searching our luggage pretty thoroughly. Twice… and then once again with the help of a dog. While the dog is busy sniffing our bags (and licking them! we made a mess with the peanutbutter !), the driver offers us a way of changing money at a good rate. Verena is thinking about it, but changes her mind quickly when the guy points at a graveled pit at the side of the border next to the river bank. Ok, now we know where the black market guys are at. We decide sticking to the sightly worse rates though . Eventually we get picked up by a slightly bigger and more comfortable van. My legs have some more space at last !
Although we were supposed to be dropped off somewhere in the town centre, the driver is so kind to do a detour and take us to our hostel which is a few miles from the city down the road to the old Palenque ruins. Apart from the main house that is the home of the owner, “El Colombre” consists of 5 bungalows and a nice big pool. Every bungalow comes with it’s own little porch and a hammock. Our bungalow may be divided into 2 rooms, but has space for 4 to 6 people. That’s what I call spacious! Very nice ! We drop off our luggage and head straight to the pool. Ahhh! Refreshing ! In the evening we take a taxi to the “tourist part” of the town to have dinner at the “Maya” restaurant. I had read in some blog post once that Palenque is supposed to be quite dangerous and that shouldn’t go there at night. This definitely does not seem to be the case. I wonder if the place we are at is just some kind of “tourist ghetto”… a “safe zone”* of some sort. Lol. “safe zone”. Verena has some Arrachero and I order a kind of cordon bleu, a local dish with a lot of cheese… delicous.
*We went to get groceries outside this touristy zone another evening though. The city seemed alright, no clue what all the fuzz is about.