Saturday, February 25, 2012

17°29′2.33″N, 92°2′46.79″W

Palenque, Mexico.

When you've just spent the night in a thatch-roofed hut next to a trickling creek in the middle of the jungle, and are then awoken by the sound of jaguars roaring in the trees (which quickly turn out to be Howler Monkeys) exploring some Mayan Ruins is about the only way to start your day. This is Palenque; an ancient Maya city that has been eaten up by the fast-growing jungle. Two per cent of the ruins is excavated and the other 98 per cent is still hidden underneath more than 2,000 years of growth.

I don't feel the need to elaborate much; it was incredible to walk around the site and up the steep steps, through a city built by slaves for ancient kings. It was our last stop before leaving Mexico, and a good end to our Mexican adventure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

16°49′54″N 93°05′38″W

The canyon, with the Grijalva River running through it.
Sumidero Canyon: We took a day tour to the Sumidero Canyon while spending a few days in San Cristobal. It was both incredibly amazing and deeply disturbing. The canyon, formed by the Grijalva River, was created around the same time as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Grijalva weaved and eroded canyon walls as high as one kilometre, making looking upwards at them a big pain in the neck. The tops of the walls were covered in cloud.

Waterfalls in the canyon.
The tour had us in a boat fit for 30 people; some from Mexico, others from around the world, all unsure of what to expect as we sped through the muddy waters of the Grijalva. As we made it into the canyon, we saw American Crocodiles laying on the mud banks, their teeth jutting out the front of the mouths, not bothered by the boat that slowed to gawk at them.
The canyon walls were lined with waterfalls; one here, another a few hundred metres away, all spitting water out from deep within the cracks in the rock, cascading down solid cliff through emerald green forest. One particular waterfall had an almost Avatar-like fall line; giant canopy plants that overhung from the rock face.

And then we reached a turn in the canyon, and entered upon a section of the Grijalva blanketed with debris... and trash. The nearby heavy populated city of Tuxtla (with the biggest population in all of the state of Chiapas) is largely responsible for the plastic that floats amongst logs in the canyon. What gets thrown onto the ground gets washed way down to stream, and then flushed into the Grijalva. Recycling is not a popular activity in Mexico, or most of Central America for that matter, and thus, the banks of rivers become dumping grounds for human waste. Mexicans salvage wood in the area, but leave the plastic bottles, bins, coca-cola crates and prescription pill jars to float on.
The garbage scattered throughout the canyon, with salvagers
working to collect wood. Plastic stays in the river.
The Grijalva is one of the five most polluted rivers in all of Mexico, it's headwaters beginning in Guatemala to the south. As our boat driver cut through the debris with his second propellor, I couldn't help but think about how the earth provides such an incredible wonder, and we (humans) manage to do everything we can to destroy it. Or at least, we don't change the way we produce and consume. It was an eye-opener to how we should and do, do things. #Thirdworldproblems.
Despite the upset of pollution, the canyon tour was great.
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