And now for something completely different: Palenque and howler monkeys

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Can you spot the little guy up there?

After a lovely week in Tulum, my friends dispersed and my feet were itching for the road; it was time to move on. But where to next? I really like Mexico so far, so a little more time here sounded like a good idea. But I needed to switch things up and had heard rumors from the west. Changing plans, I crossed over into the region of Chiapas, from which I plan to move into Guatemala. First stop on the new itinerary: the jungle ruins of Palenque.

A few hours after purchasing an ungodly expensive $694 peso ticket for a 10-hr overnight bus I started having serious buyer’s remorse. Why was I leaving the Yucatan? There was still so much more here to explore! Why didn’t I visit more cenotes? Why was I spending so much time, money, and effort to remove myself from a place where I was happy? Why wasn’t I heading south? I considered a change, but at the last minute decided to push through and trust my impulse to go west. There is always more to see and other trips. I must keep moving and there is much ahead of me still to explore.
The overnight bus actually wasn’t bad at all, aside from the fact that the movie shown was Britney Spears Live. With generous reclining seats and quiet passengers, getting rest was relatively easy, though the thought of blasting through unlit Mexican highways at night did feel unnerving the few times I woke up. Arriving in Palenque at 7:30am without a hostel reservation, I took a taxi from the bus station to El Panchan, a collection of economy hotels in the jungle just outside the ruins, in hopes of finding a place to stay. With five (or more?) small hotels, hostels, and restaurants arranged as a village there were plenty of options for me. I looked at an $80 peso/night dorm room that felt cramped and unappealing. Instead, for only $20 pesos ($1.75USD) more a night, I opted for a private and quiet creekside cabana with my very own double bed, porch overlooking the water, desk, bright blue curtains, and ceiling fan. It’s breezy with mosquito mesh on all sides and relaxingly peaceful.
Here I lay now in my jungle cabana, clean after a shower and taking it easy. It’s luxurious to have my own space for a few days. A retreat from dorm life. Time for some reading, writing, and resting. With the sounds of a family of howler monkeys as they live and leap in the trees right above head, I feel happy to be here. A little change aint so bad. And there are more cenotes in my future in Belize. 🙂

2 thoughts on “And now for something completely different: Palenque and howler monkeys

  1. Hi,

    Enjoyed your story. I'll be staying in Palenque myself end of November and had thought of staying at El Panchan as I'd like to be near the jungle and the ruins. I've heard though that the place can be very noisy at night due to sound systems and stuff. Perhaps you found the quiet spot? Maybe you could give me a tip as to which cabanas you chose there. I'd be very grateful if you could. Cheers
    Dave (from England)


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