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Chichen Itza/Palenque

Land of the Pyramids

Temple of the Warriors 32KThe Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza and the impressive Group of a Thousand Columns. Each year millions of tourists visit Chichen Itza, the best know and most restored Maya ruins in the Yucatan. >>>

 Pyramid of Kukulcan 32K
<<< The Pyramid of Kukulcan, framed by a carved serpent's head, is the tallest structure in the huge complex. A stairway tunnel inside the pyramid leads to an ancient jaguar shrine.

El Castillo 32KAnother view of Kukulcan, or El Castillo, which rises 24 meters above the massive central courtyard of Chichen Itza. >>>

Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque 32K<<< The Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque contains a royal crypt that was hidden for more than a thousand years before being discovered by a Mexican archaeologist in 1952.

Temple ruins of Palenque 32KThe temple ruins of Palenque in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas are an excellent example of Maya architecture during the Classic period. >>>

Dense jungle of the Chiapas 32K 
<<< The dense jungle of the Chiapas rain forest surrounds the ruins of this "lost city" of the Maya. Already abandoned, the city of Palenque was "discovered" by Spanish explorers in 1785, 250 years after Cortez first landed in Mexico.


I arrived in Palenque village in the late afternoon. After carrying my bags up the main street from the bus station, I found a clean, large room at the Hotel Lacroix on a quiet shaded street off the plaza. The oldest hotel in town dating back to 1956, Lacroix is where many archeologists stayed when they explored the nearby ruins of Palenque.

At a restaurant during dinner I bought a woven bracelet from an elderly Maya woman who came to my table. She also had some small, black-clad Zapatista soldier dolls which I would see many more of in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas.

I awoke early and took a collectivo, a small white VW van, to the ruins outside of town. The Mayan ruins wer Áe beautiful in the early morning light. Lush tropical forests surrounded the ancient structures, gurgling streams and aqueducts meandered through the grounds as birds and butterflies filled the air.

I spoke to a middle-aged woman with an American accent sitting alone atop the main pyramid writing in her journal. It was her second day visiting the ruins. She'd been an accountant for the last 16 years and now she was trying to become a writer. Her recent travels had taken her to Uluru, Ayers Rock, in the Australian Outback. She dropped names of a number of other mystical or spiritual destinations she had visited around the world. She struck me as another new age searcher attempting to find herself among the crumbling ruins of another lost civilization.


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Photography by Paul Picus. Copy by Paul Picus. Copyright © 1996-2008 Paul Picus

Copyright © 1996-2008 Gar Benedick, All Rights Reserved.