While Palenque and the surrounding area is most definately a magical place, it also seems to be a place of parenting challenges for the extrangeros. I just watched a mother physically, and with much force, remove her son from the pool She had been ranting at him a few times and finally re-appeared at the pool and yanked him out. I can't figure out what language she is speaking; is it Swiss? Is it a Slavic or something all together different?
Yesterday, Jamie and I fought all day long with each and every one of the children. We resorted to punishment (for the second time in their young lives) as nothing seems to be "working". There seems to be little if any respect for our needs and I don't know if it is a maturity thing or simply somthing we're missing in instilling in the boys. We really wanted to go to the ruins during the morning, while it was somewhat cool (more on the weather later) but due to issues with all four, we didn't go til the late afternoon. We left the boys with punishments threatened and a list of chores. Papa and Tata graciously offered to babysit so we could see the ruins. It was amazing going alone and sharing it with each other instead of trying to cajole one or another or break up a fight or carry Ellen (who pretty much refuses to walk ANYWHERE). We walked a LONG 2km up to the site and we breathless when we got to the parking lot. I saw a sign for the "forgotton" temple and we decided to head over to it (as it was free and we figured it might be neat). It was a LONG hike to the temple and as we expected we were alone. Well, except for one GIGANTIC iguana that scared the crap out of Jamie.
We then headed over to The Ruins. And they were like nothing we've seen so far. They are so vast and so almost overwhelming it is simply impossible to describe. Today we made the kids go and when Pike saw the temples (when you arrive, you walk up about 4000 steps to a flat area and in that area you find the Temple of Inscripciones (where Pacal's tomb is found) and the Palace. Coming out of the jungle to the mostrosity of the temples is spectacular. Pike and yelling to me that I had to come and see (when I'd been there the day before) - he was so excited. Everyone but Ellen enjoyed the ruins so we tried to take turns with her; one with her and the other with the other kids. We returned to the campground for lunch and a pool dip (the pool has been created by damming a jungle stream) and then we headed back to see Pacal's tomb.
Seeing Pacal's tomb (he is the King who created many of the temples) was a bit of a journey. First you find the Museum. Then you find the library. Then you find a certain librarian. She then asks you to write (however much you want to) why you want to see the tomb. I did it in Spanish. Then she decides if you're "worth" of a visit to the tomb. There is no payment; you simply have to pass muster. I guess we did. :) Mom and Dad met us at the Temple of Inscripciones (where Pacal is buried) to descend to the tomb. First you must ascend to the top of the Temple and then you descend into the bowels of the temple to his tomb. It was absolutely heart-stopping with the kids (who were scampering all over) and exhilirating.
This area is so different for us; once we left Mazatlán we found ourselves cut off from contact with other non-Mexican tourists and joined the Mexican tourist trail. Here in Palenque, we've found the Gringo Trail; we're surrounded by American, Spanish, young Mexican and European travellers. Most all are backpackers and it is a very different flavor from the Mexican families we've been camping with. We could probably spend a week here; irregardless of the 80% or more humidity and the 90 degree temperatures. It is a testament to our incredible luck that we seem to have found the first place that the electrical grid supports our A/C and for the first time, we're using it! Tomorrow we head for the Carribean (though we're not sure if Papa and Tata are coming with us. They need to return to the Bay Area by the beginning of June; we simply need to be out of Mexico by the end of June.) and Chetumal.