Sonny Daze World Tour travel blog

The mountains of Chiapis are very rural and the people quite poor.

The church of a small village in Chiapis

As we drove through a larger village I wondered about the safety...

The women wear clothing with patterns distinctive to their particular village

Since there are many trees, the locals build their houses from wood,...

Oliver and I took combis with the locals to get to Palanque...

Magnificent sculpture near the town of Palanque

We had come down from the mountains into the jungle near the...

The room was like a crypt. The ceiling was very low, it...

But the Mayan art on the walls was very interesting

At the entrance to the ruins. Apparently you need a shotgun to...

This is the main ceremonial center where priests and leaders would gather...

The Temple of Inscriptions, where the priest would perform sacrifices. It was...

People would gather below to watch the ceremony. The priest would plunge...

if he did it "correctly" he could pull the heart out while...

the body would then be rolled down the steps

in a tenderization process

so that when it landed on this table below it could be...

A view of The Palace

One of the many bas reliefs that can be found throughout the...

One of the courtyards inside The Palace

Everything was painted in bright colors

Here's a closeup of one of the reliefs in the previous photo....

Me trying to be artsy

I was wishing they had color photos to compare the remains to

Even the steps had carvings

Look ! Is that the infamous fifth Beatle ?

That roof looks leaky

They have taken great pains to preserve these but you can still...

The view of the Pyramid Temples

If you hike into the jungle you can find ruins that seem...

Another interesting relief. This one was off-limits so I shot from far...

The Temple Of The Foliated Cross was one of my favorites

This was taken from the steps leading up to the Temple Of...

A hieroglyphic inside Temple Of The Foliated Cross

The view of The Palace from a different angle

This is the Temple Of the Cross. The steps up are tall...

The Temple Of The Cross

Inside is a hieroglyphic text carved in stone detailing the city's ruling...

It's amazing the degree of sophistication that was incorporated in the making...

A view of The Temple Of The Sun from The Temple Of...

The view back to where I came from

Temples cover the jungle here

It was much cooler back here in the shade

The cross was a Mayan symbol for a 'holy tree' which Mayans...

Zack was on hand to help with the discussion

The waterfalls are magnicent and refreshing. You can easily imagine them full...

A strange jungle flower

Another waterfall that is slowly melting away the rocks

I like it here on planet Earth

A stream I found on the walk back from the ruins

The horses here are very small. Something about this rural scene caught...

Another jungle flower

My camera's focus was off but this is the ruins of Tulum...

Sorry for the blurry images

These ruins are not as spectacular as Palanque but the location is...

There are many people that come to these ruins due to their...

It took a couple of glances before I saw the faces on...

Each corner was different

Here is the profile

The other corner


It was a cloudy day when I left San Cristobal de las Casas with several of my new friends from the Backpackers Hostle (great courtyard with a fire ring). We caught a combi, which is basically a van with as many people as can fit, and took off into the mountains of Chaipis. The mountains were covered with pine trees and waterfalls and tiny villages.

When we came down from the mountains into the jungle it wasn't long before we arrived in Palanque. The Mayan ruins are several kilometers outside of the town and quite distinct, what with the hippies and travelers that frequent the ruins. Many come here to eat mushrooms and gaze at the ruins in a psychedelic haze. I found the ruins to be quite exhilirating without the drugs (Thanks Oliver ! )

Though it is not the largest, Palenque is perhaps the most studied and written about of Maya sites. Palenque was the capital of the important classic-age Mayan city-state of B'aakal (Bone). An ancient name for the city was Lakam Ha, which translates as "Big Water" or "Wide Water", for the numerous springs and wide cascades that are found within the site. The heyday of B'aakal was the 5th century AD to the 9th century during which the Mayans had created a society that was very advanced in mathematics, the sciences, art and architecture.

B'aakal produced what is arguably the best-known Maya Ajaw (king or lord), Pacal the Great, who ruled from 615 AD to 683, and left one of the most magnificent tomb-works of ancient Mesoamerica, beneath the Temple of Inscriptions. This is a grand temple atop a step pyramid dedicated in 692 and now closed to the public; inside is an elaborate, long hieroglyphic text carved in stone detailing the city's ruling dynasty and the exploits of Pacal the Great. A stone slab in the floor could be lifted up, revealing a passageway (filled in shortly before the city's abandonment and reopened by archeologists) to a long interior stairway leading back down to ground level and the shrine/tomb of the semi-divine Pacal. Over his crypt is an elaborate stone showing him falling into the underworld, and taking the guise of one of the Maya Hero Twins in the Popul Vuh who defeated the lords of the underworld to achieve immortality.

The Maya civilization alone developed a writing system that provided a complete expression of their language, thus they are the only indigenous people of the Americas with a written history. They also created a calendar system with a 365 day solar calendar. They had a comprehensive knowledge of naked-eye astronomy and charted the movements of the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the constellations through the night sky, and marked the position of the sun along the horizon. Their cities rivaled those of Europe at the time, based on their level of sophistication and advancement.

The religious beliefs of the Mayans, like many other Mesoamerican cultures, included human/animal sacrifice. While seen as barbaric to the Spanish conquistadors and people of today, sacrifices were a normal part of daily life. One could take one's own life to appease the gods, to free oneself from mourning the loss of another, or for a cause that was simply trivial.

In another example, it is known that the Mayans played a game involving a ball and sticks in which the captain of the WINNING team would be sacrificed !!! The person who would do the sacrificing was the captain of the LOSING team. Try and wrap your mind around that concept !!??!! (I'm thinking own goal.)

Blood offerings were also a part of the Mayan rites. A woman in the Mayan culture would have to cut a hole in her own tongue after her first child was born and take a barbed rope and pull it through the hole. The blood would then be collected in a bowl under her and burnt along with spices as an offering to the gods. Men would also have to do this, although the hole was cut in a different region, the penis, at which point the barbed rope would be pulled through it.

Note #1: MY CAMERA GOT BROKEN ON THE BUS BETWEEN PALANQUE AND TULUM !!!!!!! Oh Nooooooo !!! (Canon PowerShot SD-300; LCD spontaneously cracked -- Beware of this camera series !!!!! ) Please forgive the out of focus and blurry quality of the Tulum pics.

*Note #2: From here until Miami I was forced to use disposable cameras -- Uughh!



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