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  #76  
Old 6 Nov 2012
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San Agustine Etla

We really got into the spirit of the day of the dead with a visit to San Agustine Etla cemetery. They have a massive battle of the band here where they wander from town to town and play all night long.
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  #77  
Old 6 Nov 2012
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San Agustine Etla

There are lots of people in amazing costumes. We had some great tacos with cervesas. They have several very cool murals here too.
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  #78  
Old 10 Nov 2012
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San Cristobal de Las Casas

There are not too many interesting sights on the 2- day drive from Oaxaca to San Cristobal except several in the Valley itself. We decided on a visit to the Zapotec ruins at Mitla. The buildings are covered with mosaic patterns of stones. There are several tombs that you can climb down into. Much of the rock and other building materials were pillaged to build the Cathedral also located at the site. The huge one -piece door lintels were mined in the mountain near here and somehow transported here intact.
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  #79  
Old 10 Nov 2012
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Chiapis

On Day 2 we set out early to beat the heat, but it was already 28 c at 8 am. Mid morning we ran into a road blockade caused by protesting taxi drivers. Luckily Daniel found a way for us to weave thru some of the cars and then off the road thru a construction site to bypass the road -block. There was a massive back up and we could have been help up there most or all of the day. The scenery here in Chiapis is spectacular. There are high mountain passes covered with green vines or cultivated with corn. The indigenous people here wear beautiful woven clothing.
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  #80  
Old 12 Nov 2012
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San Cristobal de Las Casas

San Cristobal de Las Casas is located in a region that is mostly made up of mountainous terrain, but the city itself sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. The city’s center maintains its Spanish colonial layout and much of its architecture, with red tile roofs, cobblestone streets and wrought iron balconies often with flowers. We enjoyed the several pedestrian only streets that criss-cross the downtown. There are a number of very nice bakery/cafes, restaurants, and bars to enjoy here. We had a hotel on the Zocolo so we were near all the action.
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  #81  
Old 12 Nov 2012
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San Cristobal de Las Casas

This is a very colorful city from the buildings to the signage. We walked up the long staircase to the Iglesia Guadaloupe and toured the main Cathedral as well. Having breakfast on our first morning here there was a 7.4 earthquake to shake things up a bit.

Exploring the mountain villages around the town we ended up in Zinacantan, which is know for it’s beautiful weaving and the interesting fusion Catholic/indigenous church located there. We met a local man, Alan, who is about to set of riding his bike to Ushuaia too. Next we were off to visit San Juan Chamula, which is the site of the famous indigenous church with the pine needle floor. They believe that the camera can steel your sole and NO PHOTOS are allowed. We set off up a mountain road to end up in the remote village of San Andes Larrainzar where there are stunning panoramic views.
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  #82  
Old 12 Nov 2012
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Palenque

The drive over the mountains from San Critobal to Santo Domingo de Palenque is under 250 km, but takes almost 5 hours because of the curvy road and the hundreds of topes. The town of Palenque was fairly quiet, but there was a traditional dance competition one night in the main square.

The Archaeologic zone is a 7 km ride up the mountain from the town. Palenque was a Mayan city whose ruins date back to 226 BC. It was abandoned around 1123 AD and it was overtaken rapidly by the jungle. Most of the site has been excavated and much of it has been restored.

Palenque is a medium-sized compared to its rival city Tikal, but it contains some really nice architecture, sculpture, and carvings. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on many of the monuments.

We were a bit disappointed by the number of vendors inside and the extent of the Disney-like manicuring of the park which both detracted from the magic of the site. The lower less visited part of the park contains several clusters of unrestored ruins.This also leads to the museum which is very well done.
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Last edited by saralou; 13 Nov 2012 at 03:07.
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  #83  
Old 12 Nov 2012
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Palenque

More pics!
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  #84  
Old 13 Nov 2012
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I'm enjoying seeing all the pictures. It immediately transports me back to my own trip over two years ago. It looks like you'll be in Guatemala before too long. If you're going to the market in Chichicastenango, make sure to go right into the core of it. Right into the central building and tents. That's where the non-tourist part of the market is. I also enjoyed Fuentes Georgina just south of Quetzaltenango.


Buen Viaje
...Michelle
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  #85  
Old 13 Nov 2012
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Thanks Michelle

We will visit there for sure then!! We will actually be in Belize for a week and then return to Mexico. We will tour up around the Yucatan and then go from Villahermosa back to see the monarchs in early December. We hope to be at Atitlan for Christmas. Thanks so much for your support and advice. Sp
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  #86  
Old 13 Nov 2012
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When you're in Belize I HIGHLY recommend riding down to Caracol. It's 80km's on a bumpy but very passable dirt road. I camped inside an abandoned screened in building at Douglas D'Silva, an almost abandoned settlement which used to be a forestry camp. That's about half way to Caracol from the highway. There are no hotels there. The closest would be along the main highway to Guatemala.

On the way to Douglas D'Silva there are the Rio On Pools, a great place to stop and splash in the water on a hot day. Popular with the local families on weekends.

In the morning I rode to Caracol before the optional military escort so I wouldn't be in a cloud of dust and amongst a gaggle of turistus autobus. But the "buses" are actually small vans. So even if you go with them, it's won't be anything like Tikal or Palenque, etc.

The site is quite small compared to Tikal, Palenque, etc but the feel is amazing if you have it to yourself ...and you will if you leave before the military escort. I wandered around by myself for 1 1/2 hours just listening to the jungle sounds and came across the escorted vans on the way back out.

Also, Caye Caulker is a nice low key place to chill for a few days.

...Michelle
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  #87  
Old 19 Nov 2012
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Campeche and the Mayan ruins of Calakmul

We loved the drive into the state of Campeche because there are very few tope and they kindly fill the holes in the highway with white stones so you can see them from a long way off. The Calakmul Bioreserve is a huge area of land in south west part of the state of Campeche....read few towns, hotels, or Pemex stations. The Hotel Calakmul is described as nearby, but it is in the town of Xpuhil which is 48 km from the entry gate to the park.

The adventure to visit the ruins of the Mayan City of Calakmul began with the 48 km drive on the highway west of Xpuhil. There are signs marking the bat migration path. Next there was the 23 km drive down a curvy road thru the jungle to the Calakmul museum. Finally there is a futher 40 km thru the jungle to the archaeological zone.
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  #88  
Old 19 Nov 2012
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Calakmul

The core of the site of Calakmul covers an area of approximately 2 square km and contains almost 1000 structures. The well marked path winds thru the site so you get to experience the entire area without missing anything. The periphery of the zone is occupied by over 6000 smaller structures and covers an area of more than 20 square km. Calakmul matches the great city of Tikal in size and an estimated population of around 50,000. The city is located on a limestone dome rising above a large swamp. Structure II is a massive pyramid/temple, one of the largest in the Maya world. This site is unique for the huge number of engraved Stella many of which are disintegrating since they are made of limestone.

There were only about a dozen visitor in the entire site. The main plazas are still covered with trees. There has been some reconstruction of the major structures, but the magic and "Indiana Jones" quality has been preserved. From the main acropolis we climbed up and were treated to a 360 panorama of the site with various large temples jutting out from the dense surrounding jungle. We saw lots of spider monkeys playing in the canopy above us and heard a many howler monkeys.
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  #89  
Old 19 Nov 2012
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Calakmul

A few more pictures.
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  #90  
Old 21 Nov 2012
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Quintana Roo/Chetumal

We had a short 120 km drive to Chetumal Bay on the Caribbean Sea. This is a very nice little town unlike most port/border towns. This is a multicultural place with lots of ethnic restaurants. We saw our first Bubble tea shop since leaving Vancouver. English is widely spoken here since it borders Belize. There is a fantastic museum here of the Culture of the Maya. It was actually closed as they are just completing renovations, but the director was fetched and she said that we could tour the museum as we had come from so far. It is set up on three levels with the daily life of the Maya described in the middle, the life of the Gods and the stars at the top, and the underworld located below.
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