Wednesday, November 12, 2014

¡Qué Día Estupendo!

 Take away the sound of a weed wacker in the background ...
Take away the tin roofs shining white in the sun ...
Take away the Mexican flag flying over the distant military base built to control the Zapatistas in the 1990s ...

And suddenly you could be over a thousand years back in time, standing on the steps of Toniná scanning the horizon for a possible war party from Palenque. 

This lesser known Mayan ruin has many unique archeological features but what made it truly special was the silence and solitude and the spectacularly beautiful and peaceful setting. For more details:á.

Kath Hockey at the top.
The tour started this morning when my new neighbor Kath (English artist living in Spain) and I met Julian (New Zealand, avid traveler) and Fernando (traveling Tijuana coffee shop owner) and set off through the Chiapas highlands for Toniná. The day was glorious and the winding, mountainous, speed- bump-laden road was the responsibility of Homero who did quite a fine job of weaving us through the dozens of Mayan villages that line the road for the two-and-a-half hour trip to Toniná.
Fernando Fortis is young enough
to scale the last little bit of the
pyramid that the rest of us
wisely decided not to do.

The rainy season has just passed here and the pine forested mountains are a shimmering green with flowering trees sparking the hills.  The trip was filled with language ... new words and phrases and Spanish at all levels from my barely basic Spanish to Homero's excellent Spanish as well as a Mayan language and some Italian and English. 

My favorite idiom came from the Brits ... or actually ex-Brits ... "splash out!" Basically you "splash out" when you buy something a bit expensive or something that stretches your budget.

At the top ... starting to wonder how to get down.
Toniná is built in a series of levels and each one offers something new to look at and spectacular views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Before you know it, you are several levels up and the top level calls to you. The steps here are much are shorter than other pyramids I've visited ... but there are a LOT of them and, seemingly, always more.

Finally we reached the top and after reveling in the view, I begin to wonder what it would take to get a helicopter to rescue us ... it is a LONG way down ... and, somehow, never as much fun as going up.
Julian Haworth at the top ...
fortunately he did not take one
more step backward.

But down we went and then headed off to La Cascada "El Corralito"... a beautiful river cascading down a rocky channel into a pool large enough to swim in. The water was clear and bracing ... refreshing after a hot day of climbing the pyramid. 

After a nappy ride back to San Cristóbal, Kath and I decided to explore the local beverage ... posh or pox. I expected the burn of strong alcohol but the flavored posh which is infused with fruits or herbs was delicious and served in a ceremonial fashion in tiny cups surrounded by slices of orange sprinkled with coffee and two small pieces of incredible chocolate.

I'm not sure if it was the posh or the company since we had joined Mirella, a Mexican-American woman from San Diego ... but we wound up trying the un-infused white version and it burned but suddenly we were all laughing a bit more than normal.

All in all a truly stupendous day.


  1. Your words make your day come alive for me. It also makes me wish I were there to tag along! So happy for you to have such a fun day that creates memories for all time.