Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico | Chiapas | Palenque – Is that what I sound like?
Well Ive finally made it to Palenque. I dont really know what the big urgency for me to get here was. I dont really even know if I remember who it was that told me to come here. I am thinking it was Dabney Griggs. Im not certain. I drove through the center of town last night and it looked like a really impoverished college town scene. A lot of drunk young people hanging out, some cafes, some bars, people sitting around waiting for something. I was going to get one of the hotels right on the square, I had really good luck with that in Veracruz, but one of the hotels looked like the Bristol in San Francisco, and the other, although a little nicer, didnt seem to have an elevator. I didnt even get out of the car to check. I then left the center of town to go out to where I had seen a Howard Johnsons and a Best Western. I knew I would get charged more, but I also knew my bathroom would be clean and my room would be relatively roach free. I went back to where I saw them, then made a couple of wrong turns until I was on a gravel road. A hand painted sign said Hotel: Affordable and Clean. I found one of the hotels that were listed in the Lonely Planet guide. I wouldnt have been able to trying to find it on my own. Im glad that I did. It is a really cute place, back in the trees. The place where you eat breakfast is one of those grass roof cabanas and there is a little Chihuahua running around, as well as a couple of peacocks. I thought it was a turkey at first, but then saw its big train of feathers. The room is small, but clean and with windows on three sides. Im glad that I got out of that rut of spending fifty, sixty, eighty dollars on hotel rooms. Some of those places, buy the time I had left I had spent over a hundred dollars. It was nice, but I am glad that I have found a more affordable route. This place is twenty a night, and I am sure I could find an even cheaper place than this if I want to scout around for a while. However, I dont want to. I want to get something to eat and then head on up to the ruins. Check those out. I am thinking that there are going to be a lot of tourists up there. I was thinking that I might have the place to myself, but now that I have seen how the town is laid out, hotel, bar, café. I am thinking it is definitely a tourist destination. Good thing I am a tourist, I might find myself desperately out of place. I saw some guy crossing the street last night, and he said, Hola. ?Como esta? He sounded so dumb and white. I realized that was what I sounded like, and hated myself for it. Here I am in these peoples country, on their land, and I cant even speak their language. I looked at him. He was a hippie, or at least was dressing the part. Im sure he had Teva or Birkenstock sandals on and had taken an Anthropology class in college. Tall and lanky, almost looked like Josh Byers when he was a hippie. For some reason I didnt like this guy. This guy that I had only heard say three words, and had never met. Then I realized it was because that is what I looked like, save the sandals. I looked like some big dumb American, rolling around trying to look like I am not rich, spending more money in a day than most of the people here make in a month. It was really quite disgusting. Im sure if I met the guy he would be very nice, and we would have a lot in common. Who knows, maybe we even took one of those Anthropology classes together.
I ended up not getting out here until late because I stayed in Villahermosa to eat a late lunch with Ana. She was the cute Mexican girl I met yesterday. She took me to eat tacos and to eat this corn in a cup stuff. I kept telling her that everyone back home told me not to eat from the street vendors, and kept asking her if my Pocahontas was going to lead me astray. She didnt understand what lead me astray mean. I tried to explain. In some ways I want to try and talk her into coming with me on my trip. Take her down to Costa Rica with me. I could treat her as my guide and pay her for the work that she would have missed. Im sure it couldnt be much. But on the other hand, I couldnt do it. I didnt even want to try to convince someone to run off and be irresponsible like myself. She had worked so hard to get where she was. An American girl, take Jen for instance, I try to get her to quit her job and run off all the time. I dont care if she loses her job. I know, and she knows, that she can go and pick up three more just like it in a week. However, I dont know if that is the case here. Im not sure, but I dont think jobs are as easy to come by, and even though it isnt the job that she is going to have forever, and it is more of a temporary job until she gets work in her field, I think culturally she might get into trouble. I guess now that I think about it, culturally, I have gotten myself into trouble. I would have a really hard time finding a job in the corporate environment on my track record. No job for years at a time, then quitting or getting fired most other times. But at the same time, I love my life. Im pretty comfortable with the choices Ive made, and I think if I were working a corporate job and hating it, but doing it because I was trapped financially and responsibly, I would, well, be hating it. Ana said that these Mexican men look at me strangely because I am traveling alone. She said that they rarely do that. I told her that American people would look at me strange also, because they dont do it either. This isnt the traditional American vacation. Tony said that he had met more people that traveled across the United States that were from Korea than he had that were from the United States.