Meeting an old friend at Palenque Mayan Ruins

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Day 23 – Palenque/El Panchaan

When you backpack you meet people that become good friends for a mere few days and when you say goodbye you wish them well. More often than not you will see them again.

If they’ve become a Facebook friend you may realize you’re in the same city but it’s a small small world and often you just run into them on the street.

I arrived in Palenque and decided to stay at El Panchaan, a community of cabins in the jungle. When you stay in the jungle, you wake up with the jungle – which is dawn. No need for an alarm clock as it feels like the howling monkeys marking their territory are in your room, kneeling beside your bed.

I was on my way to the Palenque Mayan ruins and turned back toward Jungle Place’s dirt road when I thought I forgot sunscreen. As fate would have it, just as I realized I packed it I looked up and saw Gisela.

I first met Gisela in Merida and she’s been my unofficial guidebook, giving me recommendations for places to stay and things to do. At 18, she’s on her gap year and left Holland to travel Central America for 7 months but started in Panama.

She has great recommendations for someone with no guidebook and I generally bother her in advance of each city. She also knows Spanish quite well so she’s an inspiration that some day I may not answer every question with a puzzled look and the Spanish of a two-year old.

Gisela is on my Facebook, but oddly enough the jungle is not equipped with Internet so it was sheer luck that we both ended up on the same road at the same time. Coincidentally, we had the same thought on our mind – it would be better to see the ruins with someone than alone.

Having just been to Tikal two days ago, with the sore hamstrings to prove it, I wasn’t sure if I was up for another ruin. I suspect they are like churches in Europe, eventually the beauty is no longer impressive. You know you should go and while they are amazing, you start to tire of them. But this was only number four for me and I had heard great things.

Palenque Mayan ruins ares actually quite different from Tikal, while also in the jungle, the area is quite compact and lawns have been manicured for easy viewing. The ruin steps aren’t quite so steep so I was able to climb to the top without irrational fear convincing me that my nausea would lead me to stumble to my death.

We were able to see the site in a couple of hours, taking in the gandeur of the site and posing for the obligatory “I was here” photos before the heat became unbearable.



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Join the Conversation

  1. Christine says:

    You look great in this picture! So relaxed. Can you send some calm our way?

  2. Carmie Brogan says:

    Gisela’s mother must have nerves of steel…wonder where I can get some of that….the places look beautiful and the history must be great…I love a good story.

  3. 1) The thought of monkeys kneeling by my bed, marking their territory is absolutely creepy…
    2) Awesome pics… and even better tan!

  4. So serendipitous!!! I love when that stuff happens. Travel is amazing, huh?

  5. FUN. I love it when that happens. Also/ahem – my oldest daughter is older than Gisela and that’s making me feel weird.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Now that I find hard to believe!

  6. The Travel Chica says:

    I never expected to run into people multiple times during this trip, but it has happened to me twice!

  7. Love the pics! The ruins definitely look great situated in the middle of the jungle.

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