Mexico, Mayans and Monkeys
We've spent the last few weeks travelling through the South East corner of Mexico alongside the border with Guatemala. It's mostly dense jungle covering the hilly landscape and, as you would imagine, extremely hot and humid.
We wanted to visit one of the major Mayan sites Yaxchilan and so camped in the carpark by the embarkation area, ready to leave at dawn the next day.
Red was soon surrounded by a pack of dogs, eager to get to the 2 poor females hiding underneath. After being woken for the third time by them barking and fighting, Dave leaps off the bed, runs out the door and armed with a stick shouts at them to get lost. Just as he climbs back into bed the most god awful racket, sounding like some sci fi monster starts up right above our heads. A troop of howler monkeys was spending the night in the trees above us and we had thought them so cute earlier!
Bleary eyed next morning we rose with the sun and headed to the dock, climbed into his boat and Juan whisked us up river pointing out the crocodiles, parrots and monkeys on route. After 40 minutes we rounded a corner and there before us was a flight of steps, Juan dropped us off and asked us to return in 2 hours. We climbed through the jungle and arrived at Yaxchilan, an ancient Mayan city hidden in the jungle and only accessible by boat, we felt like Lara Croft and Indiana Jones and had the place to ourselves.
We arrived at a building, a natural gateway, enclosed on either side by rocks and the only way through was a narrow entranceway leading to a dark tunnel. Now I hate caves and tunnels, so Dave took my hand, turned on the torch and led me into the building, did I mention that I also hate bats and that's what I heard as we entered and fled back out into the sunlight. Dave continued on and eventually returned chuckling to himself.
"I've found the way through, a short passage then 10 steps up, no problem."
"What are you laughing about?" I enquired. "I'm not sure I can go through there."
"Come on, hang onto me, you'll be fine."
So I put on a hat (against the bats), closed my eyes, (don't know why as it was dark) and followed Dave through this amazing Mayan structure. Once my pulse and breathing had returned to normal I asked what he was chuckling about, "Oh", he said, "Luckily you didn't see the enormous hairy spider on the wall because I knew that would have been game over and I've never have got you through!" Did I mention that I am absolutely terrified of spiders, even more than bats or caves?
The rest of our visit was spent wandering around, climbing up and down the steep stairways to temples ands tombs, marvelling at the structures and wondering what they were for and how they lived, some were reclaimed by the jungle, some totally cleared and well preserved. The Mayans may have been a bloodthirsty lot, and a lot of how they lived has been guesswork, but they did build some incredible cities.
We left this one to the monkeys and returned to Juan and his waiting boat.