Today's journey: Campeche to Palenque
After visiting the Old City Wall in Campeche, it was time to check out of the Hotel Castlemar, leave the colorful centro historico district behind, and begin the long hike to the ADO bus station to catch our bus to Palenque, in Mexico's Chiapas state.  It was again a warm day, so we got quite a workout carrying our packs.  Now you see how we eat so much on these trips without putting on tons of weight!
Pretty floral nursery along the way
The bus to Palenque stopped at a couple of different towns along the way.  These stops gave us a chance to stretch our legs and get a snack if needed.  Escarcega was one of the stops.
Along the way we went over the Usumacinta River, an important trade route for the ancient Maya before roads existed in this area.
We also witnessed (after the fact) a very serious accident involving a couple of tractor trailers.  Hopefully everyone involved was okay.
On the way to Palenque, we briefly went through the fourth Mexican state of our trip, Tabasco.  There we stopped at another town, Emiliano Zapata.  I stayed inside the bus this time, but Barry had a look inside the station, finding it much different from the typically modern, chrome and glass ADO terminals we had become accustomed to.  Until he showed me the photos, I didn't understand exactly what he meant when he said that the station was "very Mexican" inside.  Once I saw the photos, I understood immediately.  This station takes first place in the categories of "most festive" and "most colorful" along our route!  Looks like a great place for a kid's birthday party.
Too bad I didn't know they had panuchos on the menu!
After passing through two state border crossing checkpoints, we finally arrived in Palenque, in the Chiapas state, in the late afternoon.  There was construction in the center of town, requiring the bus to go way around the block on some tiny, dusty roads to get to the terminal.  
Fortunately the walk to our hotel was a short one.  The city was dusty from the construction and it being dry season and not all that attractive until we got to the street where the main tourist hotels are located.  We found out later that this is called the "La Canada" area of town.  Although there was some construction going on here as well, there were lots of trees and jungly shade, and it was very attractive.  Hilly too!  Quite a change from the flat island of Ambergris Caye where we live.
It got much prettier after the right turn into La Canada
Ah, this is more like it!
When we checked in at the Hotel Xibalba, above, we had a stressful experience (one of the very few of the entire trip, looking back now).  I had reserved the two nights' lodging online and had written on my sheet that I had already paid for one night on my credit card.  However, when I went to check in, the woman working at the front desk charged me for both nights.  She didn't speak English, so I tried, in halting Spanish, to explain that I had already paid for one night.  She kept telling me "no, no, no".  I wanted to check my credit card online, so went outside to a table to try to use their wi-fi to do so.  But not only did I not know their wi-fi password, I realize that I had neglected to bring my credit card website password -- something I meant to do.  I was sweating and getting a bit panicked.  

About this time, they sent an English-speaking manager out to talk to me.  He assured me that they do not charge a deposit when booking online.  He gave me the wi-fi password, but since I couldn't check my credit card, I ended up going ahead and paying the entire amount, figuring I could dispute the charges after the trip if it turned out I'd been double charged.  Fortunately, the place was not very expensive, just $44 US nightly, which included continental breakfast.

As it turned out after we got home, I was mistaken.  A couple of the hotels I'd reserved online before the trip did charge one night's deposit, but the Hotel Xibalba was not one of them.  I somehow got confused and wrote down the wrong information on my sheet.  This was one time that I was very glad to be wrong!  

The room was small and basic, but a good deal for the price, especially since breakfast was included.  It had air-conditioning and a TV, though reception was poor, so we didn't use it.  And there were Scarlet Macaws on the wall.  Love them!
As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, today, December 12, was the La Virgen de Guadalupe fiesta.  We had seen more pilgrims on their bikes during today's travels, and they were celebrating in Palenque today.  When we first arrived, we thought we were hearing construction noise, but we finally realized it was fireworks.  And they continued to go off with a BOOM-BOOM-BOOM all through the wee hours, and even with ear plugs, sleep was fleeting on this night.  These things were seriously LOUD and booming, not the quieter pop-pop-pop of some firecrackers.  We hoped this would be the last day/night of festivities, but it actually went on for a couple days and nights!  Who knew?!  We certainly didn't read about this celebration when planning this trip, but I guess it was all part of the experience of traveling in a foreign land.

Stay tuned for our next post about the Palenque ruins.  They were amazing!  

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