An early start. A van showed up at my hotel at six, filled with about a dozen quiet, sleepy tourists. We drove for quite some distance before stopping in the middle of nowhere for a wonderful breakfast buffet. After sitting down to the best breakfast I’ve had in ages; beans, rice and scrambled eggs, a very beautiful, very tanned French girl sat down across from me. She asked me if I spoke Spanish and when I said English I assumed by her silence that she didn’t speak English. We sat for a few minutes in total silence until I asked her some short question in easy English to see if she’d understand. Turned out she was totally fluent. Her name was Amélie and she was travelling on her own for three months down to South America. She couldn’t believe that I had a bike with me. I couldn’t believe she was on her own travelling through to South America.
We were back in the van all too soon and driving to the first site. Bonampak was a set of ruins set around a large grassed courtyard. On one side a large set of steps climbed up to four buildings overlooking the area. Amongst it all were some very well preserved frescos with scenes of Mayan life.
We boarded a brightly painted speedboat and headed down river for about forty five minutes. The river separates Guatemala and Mexico and meanders through luscious jungle. Hidden just from the river’s view by dense foliage lay the Yaxchilan ruinas. We entered through a set of roofed buildings with tiny bats hanging from their ceilings. It exited to a large, long courtyard surrounded by more buildings. Massive trees had long ago reclaimed the courtyard, vines had climbed anywhere they could get a foothold. Spider monkeys, some with babies clutching tightly to their backs, swung lazily through the branches and jabbered away at each other. Bright green lizards warmed themselves on walls and butterflies with intense black wings and red and yellow spots fluttered about in the humid air. It was an incredible atmosphere and we had the place to ourselves.
On the 147 kilometre trip back to Palenque we stopped for beers and coffee at a small roadside shack. A German lady in our group amused us all by feeding teaspoons of sugared coffee to the pet green parrot. Within ten minutes the once friendly parrot had gone from nice to nasty and was rushing to bite anyone that came close.
Back in Palenque, Amélie asked if I’d go for a drink. We met an hour later, her looking pretty sweet in a black dress, and we drank two for one pina coladas in a bar in which we were the only customers. I could have sat in her presence all night, she was absolutely lovely.