Maya Rally, Palenque to Bacalar
As we pull into Tuxtla i’m still feeling nautious but we have work to do... We drive through town and up the hill to the Park for a birdseye view of Canon de Sumidero. Sadly, visiting this canyon and ziplining across was one of the more exciting items on our checklist, but with the way i’m currently feeling a boatride to the zipline seems like a horrible idea. The zipline points will have to be lost but we settle for a few point for simply visiting the canyon park and taking a few shots from an overlook.That done, we head for San Christobal de la Casas. Again i’m bummed as this colonial town has been on our list for a while but i lay down in the back (its now afternoon and i've still been able to stomach nothing more than a few sips of 7up) while jen sets out on foot looking for mariachis and a chinese restaurant. This rally is hard work. She also finds a chance to fax in her notice of inability to make it to jury duty on wednesday...meaning she might soon be a fugitive.
We calculate the time to Palenque (our next stop) as being about 3.5 hours, but the lady jen talks to in town says she’s never known anyone to do it in under 6. We don’t have 6 hours of daylight but head out knowing that we don’t have 2 days to burn on this leg. The drive is painful. Impossibly serpentine terrain interrupted by more topes than any other part of mexico. We had read this on other blogs but didn’t really believe that was possible. Instead of being pleasantly surprised we were distraught to find out even 30forthirty's estimation of 227 topes was low. Far too low.
We finally descend the last hillside as the sun starts to drop and turn off at the dirt road where we had read the 2012 Rainbow gathering was happening just outside of Palenque. Luckily, a cattle truck full of hippes turns onto the road just before us and we have no reason to question our path, which seems to go on forever down the rough dirt track. Well after dark we finally arrive at the giant “welcome home” sign and pull into the camp. A quick introduction to the rules and general guidelines from the welcome tent and we are shown to a place to park E and camp for the night.
A bit difficult to get our bearings arriving at a thick jungle camp in complete darkness, but after about 15 minutes the chants for “dinner circle” start coming through the jungle from what seems like miles away. We grab a bowl and a headlamp and follow barefoot behind the other lights moving through the underbrush. Uphill, around 100s of tents, across a river where several campers are bathing soap-free by the moonlight and into a large meadow where most people have already gathered and started joining hands into concentric rings. We join in, grab the hands of those next to us and ooooom/sway back and forth in unison to the crowd, but as we realize how long it will take to get food out to the masses we decide to backtrack to the bus and our quick meal.
The meal may have been quick, but the walk back to the bus was not. Between the darkness and the maze of campsites and trails we get lost no less than a dozen times before finally finding our way back to our spot. Im setting up the bed and completely crashing while jen cooks dinner. We meet several brothers and sisters and jen even trades someone an orange for a piece of candy, completing our mission here. Im asleep before im even finished eating and jen sits awake listening to the music playing around us. In the morning we wake up early to the sounds of what could have been 100 people snoring in unison but as we clear our heads we realize that the jungle around us lined with howler monkeys. We make breakfast, pack up and head out just as quickly as we arrived. It seems we have simplified and slowed our lifestyle dramatically over the last few years, but being in the Rainbow camp made us feel like we are still moving too fast. We didn’t exactly fit in, but it seems like it might take a few days to fully immerse and become one with the idea of a completely peaceful/shared existence. The bus and Karma fit in great, and its further proof that we can blend almost anywhere.
Just downhill from the camp we pass a river and decide to pull in to check off our points for fishing, and who should we spot packing up from their night of camping but team astrid. This is beginning to get a bit creepy (thinking maybe they have a tracker under our vehicle) but luckily we actually like these guys and are excited each time we see them. Learning from our time in Oaxaca Jen and i think we’ll be all sneaky and not tell them about the Rainbow gathering, but it turns out they already know where it is and are heading there now. Good news for us as we can just be upfront about or time in the jungle. Team Astrid, if you happen to read this, we apologize for our short attempt at sneakinessosity. They leave to backtrack up the hill while we try to snag a fish.
Out comes the flyrod and few quick casts into the river makes us go with the advice the boys gave us (which they got from a local the night before)- club the fish with a stick. Apparently the small fish in this pool are an invasive species (that looks like a and mix between a catfish and jarjarbinks) which rest on the bottom of the very shallow pool. The easiest way to catch them is to literally club them. I grab a stick and start trying to trap one without having to kill it; seems a bit rough punishment merely for posing for a photo. Jen heads up to wash the dishes while i keep after the seemingly impossible task but i eventually capture one little guy and then struggle to get its photo before putting it back in the water. Points secure we hit the road for the long haul to Bacalar.
The road is long but compared to yesterday’s winding and tope filled path it seems easy. We have to stop alongside the road at one point when the bus stops getting fuel but a quick blow out of the fuel lines and we were on the way. All that should cost us is a new fuel filter or two in the morning (and 3 mandarin oranges to the amigos sitting at the busstop with the clever idea). So far at least...you can add that to the mirror we lost the day before the rally, the odometer/spedometer (cable) that we lost the second day of the rally, the muffler that truly saw its last day somewhere in the butterfly reserve and we will call it a huge win. Knock on wood.
We now sit in the pristine, peaceful and (at least in darkness) gorgeous campground in Bacalar. The stars are vast, the tiki torch and the chirping of jungle bugs set the atmosphere perfectly. We got in just after dark and are marveled that we made it here at all...much less that we are the first to arrive.