|The walkway to our jungle abode.|
The next morning we planned to ride to Villahermosa, but were making good time, so we continued all the way on to Palenque (which we never would have even known about if it wouldn't have been for our friend Ryan...Thanks for the great tip, amigo! :) )
As we pulled through the town of Palenque, it looked pretty similar to many of the other small towns we have gone through. There were a few hotels along the road and we thought about stopping, but instead decided to continue on down the road to see if there was anything closer to the Mayan Ruins located just outside of the city. As we drove farther into the jungle hillside, we ran into the entrance gate to the ruins which happened to be right next to the "town" of El Panchan, the traveler's hub of Palenque. We pulled in and found Margarita and Ed's cabanas, an amazing little gem of a hostel in the middle of the jungle about 50 meters from the entrance to the ruins. It would be easy to miss, as the entire "town" is accessed by a one lane dirt road which, at first glance, appears to go nowhere. About a hundred yards up, though, it opens up into a unique permanent encampment, for lack of a better term. The sounds we heard as we got off the bike were almost deafening...every kind of bird, bug, and even monkeys (although we never spotted one...) surrounded us in the trees above, and certifiable jungle hippies were all around. Our first shot, "Jungle Palace" looked like quite a scene, but definitely not ours. Birds, bats bongos and beetles blaring, we settled into one of Margarita's bright and cheerful rooms in her home - as far from the bongos as possible- and followed her upstairs for a chat. She told us she had owned this place for 14 years, and though her husband had passed away, she was happy meeting the constant stream of visitors to her jungle abode. She invited us to have dinner with her at Don Muchos, a restaurant serving delicious local fare situated right next door to our hostel (where Margarita eats every night!) Over a candlelit dinner and real Mexican margaritas, we enjoyed her stories while a band played jungle-themed music with a Mexicana twist late into the night.
The next morning, Ty mentioned a couple of waterfalls he saw on the map that were nearby. We decided to head out on the bike and check them out. They were a little farther away than we had originally thought, but were well worth the effort (not to mention the drive was fantastic!). We arrived to the closer of the two, Misol-ha, to find it basically empty. It was a very dramatic 35 meter drop, although it looked even higher than that, and a walkway had been built so that visitors could walk all the way around and underneath it. We came up to a cave after reaching the end where a man was renting flashlights for 10 Pesos in order to see the hidden waterfall inside. We went in, and it was pretty, although it was pretty dark and difficult to see. There were bats hanging on the ceiling and they looked bothered by our flashlights, so we headed back outside for a swim. The water was quite cold, but you got used to it almost immediately. Other visitors had begun to arrive, and we struck up a conversation with two German guys that were taking professional photos of the waterfall. They were on motorcyles too, and were headed up to Alaska. They had recently gone though Central/South America on their bikes, so they offered up some very helpful travel tips, especially concerning crossing the Darien Gap. They were also headed for Agua Azul Falls, our next waterfall stop, and asked us if we wanted to ride along with them.
|The view from inside the cave.|
|The best mango either of us has EVER had!|
|These pictures don't even do this place justice...so beautiful!|