|"Portal to Forever" copyright MM Sikes|
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.