Day Three and all is well… Here’s Part Two of The Odyssey…
As our bus splashed through puddled wetlands – bananas, heliconia, and dieffenbachia grew right up to the pavement, and the steamy, humid air heralded the proximity of the rain forest and Palenque. This Mayan city is considered to be the most spectacular of southeastern Mexico’s more than 1,600 archaeological sites.
La Posada Tucán, located a block off Palenque’s main plaza would be our home for the next two nights. Soaping myself in the tiny shower while hot, sudsy water washed down over my body, I realized that it doesn’t take very much to make me happy.
Off to find food, we felt like two kids playing hooky. Brightly colored scarves, wall hangings, pillow shams, and table cloths tempted me to put off finding sustenance until he said, “Don’t buy anything here. You’ll see all the textiles you could ever want when we get to the highlands.” Not fully appeased, I nonetheless set down the placemats I wanted and followed him up a flight of stairs. He claimed there was a restaurant on the second floor and he was right. Not for the first time had my husband’s prodigious memory served us well.
Seated on a breezy balcony that overlooked the action, we drank several very potent margaritas and ate a hearty meal of carne a la tampiqueña – seared flank steak accompanied by refried beans, cumin-seasoned rice, tangy guacamole and a crispy golden enchilada. Too, too good! We watched the bouncy marimba band and the enthusiastic gyrations of the dancers until our eyes could no longer stay open.
Back to El Tucán we crept, and crawled gratefully into the two twin beds. Flat out exhausted, we slept like the dead, but woke up fully refreshed, long before the sun had risen over the distant hills. Slinking to my side of the room, he filled my head with stories of the wonders we’d see today.
Dressed and out on the street by six, we felt lucky to find a still-operating night shift taxi; the sleepy driver smiled, happy to accept his last fare before heading home to his café con leche and a comfortable hammock.
On site at first light, we stood humbled by Palenque – the City of Kings, soaring up through the dense and bountiful forest. Howler monkeys cried out and bright green parrots darted between the sunbeams that shone through the branches of the broad-leafed breadfruit trees. All-pervasive creepers twirled up and hung down from every tree trunk, and dewy moss coated the flat rock roadway into the site.