Saturday, February 22, 2003

Earliest. Day. Ever. Up at 4:30 a.m. for a 5:00 a.m. bus. There are no later buses to Palenque. To top it off, Tom and I were the last passengers picked up and so were assigned to the worst seats in the rickety bus, not just over the tire and thus without a place for our legs, but also broken. And we're returning to the border on the same teeth-rattling dirt track we came in on, so anything that can be done to make us even less comfortable is surely much appreciated. Luckily, no one else boarded, and we got a whole row of broken bad seats to stretch out on. So it could have been worse.

Broken bus in Betél

One hour screwing around, three hours to Betél, immigration, a half hour on a lancha down the Río Usamacinta to Frontera Corozal, more immigration, then three more hours to Palenque. We'll be there before we know it.

One last look at Guatemala

In Frontera Corozal, Mexico, we boarded a combi, and I was lucky enough to ride in the suicide seat next to the driver, so I had a great view. We got stopped at military checkpoints three times on the way. Twice we all had to get out and they searched the vehicle for contraband. We also passed a convoy of 12 truckloads of army personnel. Chiapas has military everywhere.

In Palenque we stayed at a different hotel this time, the Yax-Ha Posada, 180 pesos with air conditioning, less without A/C. Of course we want the A/C! We had some great tacos at Taqueria Los Tarolites, one of the many taco stands lining the Zócalo, a filling meal for both of us for 42 pesos.

Fancy Mexican color scheme at the Yax-Ha

We secured bus tickets for 9:45 tomorrow morning to San Cristóbal de Las Casas on ADO bus line, with little help from the ticket agents. They had no patience with gringos. They wouldn't even try to talk to us and made us write out what we wanted. But ha! We got tickets anyway. This was the exception rather than the rule though. At other times in our travels the airport and bus station personnel have gone out of their way to make sure we understood what we were doing and boarded the right bus or plane, even coming out from behind the counter and showing us where we needed to go, whether we needed them to or not. Thank you, kind people!

View from our posada

After showering I found that I'd picked up several insect bites in Guatemala, despite repeated applications of deet and wearing long pants near the river. I hope malaria is as fun as I've read. It will be inconvenient, but the hallucinations are supposed to be quite enjoyable.

While I was busy examining my possible malaria, Tom put his hand in the ceiling fan - again. I guess he's going to do this every time he visits Chiapas. Hopefully he won't lose any fingernails this time. In his defense, you did have to stand on the bed to change T.V. channels, and from there it's only a short stretch to the fan.

Continue to Day 8

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