So I've cheated a litte on this gallery. Yes, I took most of these photos on this trip but the benefit of retracing a route (with a different camera with a longer lens) is that you can cherry pick pictures to find unobstucted views.
I did this partly because of how much the area has changed. You see while I had the place almost to myself on my first visit, this time there were tourists. Lots of them. No, it's not as busy as Chichen Itza but that site is close-ish to Cancun, one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. It takes effort to get to Palenque. I cannot fathom where all the tour busses I saw at Palenque had come from.
Working in the tourism industry, I have thought a lot about over-tourism, sustainable tourism and travel in general. I may write an entire piece on this but for now I'll just confirm that whatever downturn occurred during the pandemic is over now. The tourists are back. And yes, I realize I count as one.
Changing the subject to focus on the magic of the place — the benefit of looking at photos and remembering as opposed to writing the day of with grievances fresh in my mind. What I love is that Palenque is in the hills. To me, it feels higher and more remote that it actually is. Maybe it's all the stairs you climb to get to the palaces or pyramids or maybe its the steepness of the structures themselves but I always have a sense of being perched over the surrounding countryside. I like to imagine how it was when it was in use — soldiers peer off into the horizon; priests stare into the night sky and take measurements for their complex astronomy and mathmatics.
The air in Palenque is hot and humid, although under the cover of the ample foliage you're protected from the intense rays of the sun.
I'll end this post with photos of some of the truly remarkable art of the place. The alphabet, the palaces, the reliefs — the ancient Mayan civilation intriques me. I wish there more novels or movies about this place and time. And no, Mel Gibson's work doesn't count.
Next up: San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas