Mayan Circle Part 4
The plan was to leave the city of Merida and head to the town of Palenque.
It was a long day of travel planned for that day. We would be traveling 9 hours on the bus. Yes, you heard correctly it was 9 hours. When it comes to long travel days, I’ve mastered the art. I am able sleep the majority of the trip, and limit my fluid intakes to make bathroom stops minimal. When traveling by bus in Central or South America, the bathroom options are not nice. You have the toilet in the back of the bus or one of the toilet stops the bus makes. Most of these toilet stops charge 5 pesos approximately per use and are not the greatest conditions.
We did this leg of the journey on ADO buses which are pretty much your standard North American Coach. There are a few things that make the ADO bus ride unique. When you purchase your ticket, you’re assigned a seat number, whereas in North America, it is first come first choice. I like this method better than North America one. The 2nd thing I noticed about the ADO bus was the air conditioner was set on high. Many of the passengers were whined “mucho frio mucho frio”. I was seated near the front because of my tendency to get carsick and luckily didn‘t feel the cold air.. I watched as passengers walked up to the front of the bus and complained to the driver, he nodded to show he understood, He would decrease the aircon just a bit, but only to barely move the nob. I was glad I had my fleece hoody. I think the temperature it’s all part of a scam really. At all the bus terminals, they sell fleece blankets for your bus ride.
Another neat thing about ADO buses is you get to watch movies. The only bad thing is the only movies they show are B-rated. Most of these movies I’ve never even heard of. Even though they had famous Hollywood actors. One movie was ‘Firehouse Dog‘. The movie was about a dog named Rexx who used to be a movie star. They also played ‘The Legend of Chun Li’ movie featuring Kristin Kreuk. My friends warned me it was a complete piece of crap. I was trapped on the bus, with no exit, and forced to watch one of my favorite video games ruined by Hollywood once again. By the 3rd crappy movie, I wanted them to turn off the television. I’m not sure if it would have been worse if it was in English. Most of it was either in Spanish or dubbed Spanish.
Finally, we finally arrived in the small town Palenque. Usually this small town is quiet, but because it was near new years eve, live performances were playing and markets were set up. It was a shoppers paradise. Although this was not the largest market I‘ve seen, it had enough variety to get presents for everyone on your shopping list.
Even my tour leader was surprised by how lively the town was. We walked to the main plaza where vendors were set up selling jewelry and the usual tourist fare we saw in Merida and Cancun. I purchased coffee bean earrings, they were different from anything I’ve seen, and I love coffee.
A group dinner was arranged at a restaurant about 20mins away by cab for that evening. We piled into the cabs and headed off for an evening of food, fun and entertainment. The restaurant was actually part of a hotel, which was located in a forested area. The restaurant was busy by the time we arrived at 7pm. After waiting a few minutes, we managed to get squeezed into a table. There was candlelight set up on all the tables, and live music played at the front of the restaurant on a small stage area. Later in the evening, there was some salsa dancing as well. Some of our tour members joined in. The restaurant had something for everyone. The menu had a variety of food , typical Mexican dishes, western fare like burgers and even Italian. I was craving pizza and ordered a Neopolitan thin crust pizza. It arrived and was fantastic. Pizza for 70pesos($6.37), beer for 20($1.81)pesos.
After dinner, most of us were ready to head back, except for two tour members that wanted to salsa the night away. I didn’t have the energy to stay. There’s something about traveling that wears you down, and kills the buzz for any kind of partying.
At the hotel room, I was about to enter the washroom, when my room mate warned me not use the washroom or to enter. So far, my tour leader has been reminding us not to flush toilet. This time, she did not, and my room mate assumed that because the tour leader did not mention it, toilet paper can be flushed at this hotel. In the western hemisphere, any area below the Mexican border requires you to put your used toilet paper in the waste basket rather than down the toilet, even if it‘s a number 2. The reason is that their plumbing systems cannot handle the paper. My room mate informed the front desk of our nasty toilet situation, and was given the evil eye. The front desk staff spoke very little English and gave up trying. They spoke in Spanish to our tour leader instead, who relayed the information to my room mate. I’d hate to work at a hotel and have to fix foreigners toilet mistakes. I purchased a large liter of bottle water to last me the night and for tomorrow morning. There was no water coolers around to fill my bottle up unlike the first two hotels. Drinking tap water in Mexico is a big no-no. It will guarantee you more trips to the bathroom than necessary.