Daddy's Christmas Angel

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Exploring Jungles and the Journey to Palenque

"Portal to Forever" copyright MM Sikes
A few years ago, we vacationed at Club Med Huatulco on the southwestern coast of Mexico. Although this was a glorious beachfront resort, we longed for more adventure. So with 35 mm camera in tow, we boarded a small six-passenger Cessna 414 and headed to the jungles of southern Mexico to investigate the Mayan ruins under excavation there. After a two-hour flight, we landed on a small airstrip outside the village of Palenque in the state of Chiapas.

The sight of massive stone structures rising from the jungle rain forest was awe inspiring. There was so much to see in this amazing place where the Temple of the Inscriptions is the focal point for visitors that the scant few hours we had to explore was not nearly enough.

Discovered in 1773 by local Indians who came across stone houses rising through the jungle foliage, the ruins cover an area of about 15 square miles with hundreds of buildings still lying concealed beneath dense vegetation. Climbing the rugged steps to the top of the Temple of the Inscriptions was a challenge as was the descent by a slippery interior stairway into a secret passage leading to a tomb that was not entered until 1952 after several years of study and excavation.

I found a quiet sanctuary in one of four small temples known then as the northern group. From there I gazed through a small opening in a wall and saw gazed at the lush jungle rain forest that spread across the adjacent Guatemalan countryside. Standing there among the ruins and looking out into the jungle was a spiritual experience. I could not help but wonder about those who had gone before and had lived and worshiped in these once massive buildings.

The Mayan ruins became an obsession with me, and I painted dozens of canvases and drawings on paper from the photographs that I took. "Portal to Forever" is an award-winning painting of the interior of a temple looking out over the jungle.

In the end, the journey to Palenque was far more meaningful and memorable than the few days spent in the exotic beach side resort at Huatulco near Puerto Escondido. So, for us, visits to other Mayan ruins had to follow. And they did.


Bob Sanchez said...

Hi Monti,
Thanks for your post about traveling to the Mexican jungles. I haven't been further south than Mazatlan and am reluctant to visit again, considering all the violence.

Would you post some photos, please?

Monti said...

Hi Bob,

My photos are all 35 mm slides which are not as easy to post, so I will not be able to get to them right away. (I'm working on the blog book tour posts right now.) I will post some in a new entry in a couple of weeks.

It was fascinating! I agree about going there now. Sad to have so much violence in a beautiful country.

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks for such a wonderful post.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Clarissa Draper said...

Although I'm not a fan of traveling in odd locations, it seems like a terrific trip.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That would be really cool to see, but doubt I could handle the plane ride.

Helen Ginger said...

It sounds like an amazing and unforgettable trip. Wow.

Holli said...

One of my travel goals is to visit Mayan ruins, so I was extremely interested in your experience. I can only imagine the type of inspiration that can be drawn from such a trip.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks for sharing.


Monti said...

Thanks, Nancy, Clarissa, Alex, Helen, Holli, and Marilyn for your comments. Alex, I don't like small planes either, so that was the worst part.

Holli, so much inspiration came from this trip, including several travel articles. My painting of the Temple of the Inscriptions is 4 x 6 feet and is on my web site under Palenque.

Marja said...

I'm terrified of flying, but I still would have enjoyed taking that trip with you. Talk aobut some interesting history. Thanks for sharing!

Monti said...

Thanks, Marja! Small planes can be a little frightening. Guess I was foolish enough not to think about all the time we spent flying over dense jungles!

Patricia Stoltey said...

This has to be a fascinating trip. If they inspired you to paint, I can only imagine the beauty and mystery of the ruins.

Monti said...

"Portal to Forever" is painted of the location that I found especially inspiring. It was as if you were looking through a window (or portal) into the same scenery that so many others viewed in years past. I can imagine a science fiction story set there.