I love the juxtaposition of these beautiful old buildings next to the jungle. Of course, when the city was inhabited the jungle would have been reduced to a few picturesque trees along avenues and plazas.
The Mayan’s really did have an amazing culture. It was a stone-age culture which reached its height about 4000 years after Stonehenge was built. It is difficult to say what they would have produced had they had access to iron or bronze. They did so much with what they had.
Their building techniques were superb and their culture sophisticated. Their healing was particularly focused on gut-related issues and contraception. The first because they sadly lacked a decent plumbing system and so everyone was always getting stomach infections. The second was for the upper classes. The lower classes were encouraged to have lots of children as it meant a larger workforce.
Their writing, which look like pictograms, is actually syllabic. Which means each glyph represents a syllable, somewhat like Japanese. They observed the movements of the stars with considerable accuracy, and were particularly interested in the equinoxes and the movements of Venus.
The equinoxes told them about the two different parts of their agricultural year which were dependent upon the rainy season here. The rise of Venus at sunset at the ‘cross-quarter’ date (halfway between a solstice and equinox) at Halloween marked the end of the rainy season. Her tower here in Palenque leans like the tower of Pisa, only here it is deliberate and not a matter of building on unstable soil. The lean is so that on the 31st October and 1st November the tower will cast no shadow.
All of which was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. There is a private research station doing some work into recapturing the healing botanicals of the Mayans, which I didn’t get time to visit but would love to one day. However, I found the cities themselves empty of any presence of the Mayans themselves.
Perhaps because the cities are these days full of tourists who have curiosity but little alignment with the people themselves. I actually found the Mayan presences in the first hotel I stayed at, which was here at Palenque. This was a boutique hotel called Quinta Cha Nab Nal. Lightning has struck the place a few times. The image to the right is the small building the owner, Raphael, built where lightning blasted a tree not far from the main lobby.
Raphael is german-italian and has been obsessed with the Mayans since he was 13. He moved here and set up the hotel. He’s an archaeologist and he’s the one who explained the Mayan language to me. He clearly has a deep connection with the people and culture.
Indeed, as I said, it was here I felt the presence of Mayan spirits. I couldn’t sleep very well on my second night here because they were working on me most of the night. It was very interesting but not conducive to rest! As I was walking through jungle and around ruins the rest of the time I guess it was their only opportunity.
They were mostly working on my gut, something I’ve had trouble with over the years. It was fascinating. They appeared to be working with the ‘gut brain’ in a way I hadn’t thought of – treating it like a collective consciousness of its own. My gut has certainly felt stronger since, and I think I’ll be able to reproduce the energy work they were doing, given a little time. So my holiday turns out to be more of a sabbatical.