After a few days in Oaxaca we move on on the Pan-American Highway. We visit the 2000 year old tree of Tule, and the Zapoteca ruins of Yagul on the following morning. After another steep climb and some more off-road kilometres on a hilly ridge, we reach eventually reach Hierve el Agua and camp under the full moon on the ridge. Exceptional view from the ridge over the Sierras, from an azure blue pool filled from hot springs. We are cycling between 1500 and 2500 elevation meters, between lush valleys and pine forests. Our attempt to bypass the Panamerican highway fails in Ayutla. The locals dissuade from that route due to a certain likelihood of armed conflicts. The mountains around Ayutla is home of the Mixes tribe, the people speaking a language that sounds a bit like Chinese.
We catch a truck ride back to Mitla, followed by an incredible 20 kilometre downhill ride full of switchbacks through rugged hills on the Panamerican highway. Two more strenuous but marvellous days of ups and downs through cactee hills, corn fields and mountains with pine forests, crossing the 7000 kilometer mark somewhere in between. Usually we wash in rivers during the day and camp at night, hiding our tent away from the road. Reaching Jalapa, a small town near Tehuantepec late, the one hotel in town is said to be booked out and the Hospedaje is an poor looking shack with no glass in the windows. A young girl advices us to camp on the playing field, away from the noisy main road. Three young lads come by later at night and present me some good weed.
Short on time to reach Palenque and slightly tired of pedalling we take a 300 kilometre bus ride from Tehuantepec to Tuxla Guiterez in the Chiapas District. We just cycle to the nearby Chiapa de Corzo, from where the boats into the spectacular Sumidero Canyon depart. We arrive right in time for the parade of an intersting festival - man and boys with masks and blond wigs and colourful stripped black ponchos walk the streets until late at night. They celebrate the self healing of a little boy way back in time with oodles of Micheladas - a mix of beer and lime and chilli powder and Maggie, served in 1 litre mugs. Hmm, too much for us Gringos. The patio of our hotel is filled with young man sleeping on the ground on the following morning, and the boat ride into the canyon starts a little late. First we pass by some crocodiles on the river bank, than perpendicular rocks tower up to 1000 metres over the river that leads to a dam. Breathtaking scenery, incredibly beautiful.
My friend Werner wrote he would be in Palenque on the following day. Surprise surprise! In my current condition, it would probably take five days to get there via the mountains of San Cristobal. Well then, we take another bus ride directly to Palenque on the same night, 6 long and bumpy hours of crazy ups and downs through the thick forest. Nearby the famous Maya ruins in the jungle is some camp grounds with palapas - wooden shelters with palm leave roofs - where we pitch our tent for a few nights. Travellers play guitar here, make jewellery, good vibes. Fireflies and howling monkeys at night. Finally a real rest in a peaceful place. Werner arrives a day later, together we visit the ruins of Palenque - steep pyramids with well conserved temples on top, in the middle of the jungle - fantastic! A lazy day tour by minibus to the Misol-Ha waterfall and the famous Agua Azul. There a river carried ochre-coloured sediment over millenniums that created a long stretch of fantastic turquoise pool cascades, some 60 kilometres South of Palenque. Spectacular contrasts - the vivid green of the jungle, the ochre sediment and the turquoise water.