Driving south into the jungle we stopped to visit a family of Indians who lived in the jungle. It was fun to interact with them, albeit in a limited way because of the language barrier. However, they looked to us like people may have looked ‘back in the day’ when these sites were vibrant cities.
Palenque has a unique setting since it is so deep in the jungle. Palenque was first settled around 100 BCE but had its hey-day from about 630 to 740 AD. Like many of these wonderful Mayan cities, it was abandoned about 900 AD. The largest structure, the Temple of the Inscriptions, contains a stone sarcophagus with a beautifully decorated lid. This was the tomb of Pakal, who reigned from 615-683. Many more structures remain in this group.
We pushed on to one more magnificent museum—-at Villahermosa where they have the Parque-Museo La Venta. In 1958 when petroleum exploration threatened the very important Olmec site of La Venta, archeologists had the important pieces moved to this outdoor park- museum in Villahermosa. The Olmec civilization flourished at La Venta from about 800 BCE to 400 BCE making it one of the oldest in Mexico. These colossal heads (eight feet tall) are truly mind-blowing.
These huge rock edifices are on a massive scale.
We really enjoyed not only the wonderful monuments, but two boys accompanied us on our exploration. It turned out that there is a zoo on the premises, too, and so not only did we have the company of the boys, but also of
a four- legged friend!
The Regional Anthropology Museum rounded out our explorations here, providing a good
opportunity to view the different artifacts from different eras in this area.
We drove back to Cancun, turned in our car and flew home, passing over the volcanic mountain of Orizaba on the way, which allowed me to photograph it from the air.
It was a splendid trip and the Mayan archeological sites were wonderful to experience.