In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
a leisurely morning leaving
pirate, buccaneer and slave
trade center of the Yucatan in centuries past. And since we knew our bus travel
would be an all day trip, Billy went out to purchase
delicious lechon trancas,
a local favorite of pulled pork sandwiches made with a baguette.
manager of our hotel and a real gem, called a taxi for us and for 30 Pesos we
were taken to the ADO bus station. Even though we arrived at the station around
10 a.m., many seats were sold out on buses leaving Campeche.
If purchasing your tickets
on a weekend, we would recommend to get them ahead of time. 266 Pesos each
bought us the last two seats on our bus to Palenque.
Waterfalls at Palenque
We arrived in the town of
Palenque about 5 p.m. and flagged a taxi which took us into el
Centro for 20 Pesos.
As luck would have it, our first
choice hotel was clean, painted bright tropical colors,
had wifi in the room, a tiny balcony and a view to the quiet street
We found out that combis
go to the ruins every 15 minutes and begin leaving at 6.a.m. We were
all set and ready to leave the following morning.
Drizzly fog cast the
ruins in mystery
We rose before sunrise to
catch an early combi to the ruins because we read that it was "magic"
watching the sun dissolve the mist surrounding the Maya structures and
having them "pop" clearly into view.
This area of Mexico gets
significant amounts of rain, so when when morning clouds were low and the mist
was thick, we thought nothing of it. Locals directed us to the combi stop and
for 10 Pesos each we took the 10 minute ride to the old Maya city. By the time
we arrived, the heavy mist became a light rain, and vendors at the entrance to
the ruins were selling thin plastic ponchos for 40 Pesos each.
Palenque still holds
It was a real toss-up
whether or not to purchase ponchos, as we kept thinking it was going to clear up
any moment now... but the heavy mist changed to light rain and back again
several times. Not enough for total cover but there were several tourists who
brought umbrellas - a good idea!
Maya would paint their
buildings deep red, dark blue and brilliant yellow. Can you imagine?
The admission office to the
park does not open until 8 a.m. regardless of when you arrive. The 10
minute combi ride deposited us right outside the entrance where 20-30
people were waiting outside to obtain tickets. Inside, women are furiously
stamping tickets ahead of time so that sales would be smoother when
they opened up.
It didn't make sense to us why combi
rides began at 6 a.m. to take tourists to the park and the advertising made a
big deal about watching the sunrise over the ruins when anyone
would just have to wait until 8 a.m. to enter. Private enterprise would have
offered hot coffee and sweet rolls to people while they stamped their feet to
get warm, or perhaps would have opened their gates earlier to begin with. But bureaucracy
loves lines and there's no way to push it.
There was no where to go
and nothing to do other than to wait.
So wait we did.
Even through pea soup
weather, the ruins were impressive
So much for the sunrise,
but even in the heavy mist and rain, the ruins were pretty spectacular. 51 Pesos
each bought us our entry fee, no discounts were allowed unless you were a local
or could prove residency. Off to the ruins we went with no map in hand and none
In Pre-classic times, a
small tribe of Indians decided to make their home along the foothills of the
Sierra de Palenque mountains. Even though this site dates back centuries,
probably as early as 500 B.C., it did not receive much importance until about
the mid-7th century A.D.
As with most Maya ruin
sites, we are allowed to walk everywhere
There are several opinions
as to why the great civilizations of the Maya disappeared. It could be a
combination of factors including weather changes and increasing population. With
water always at a premium and cyclical droughts being a climate challenge, it's
possible large groups of Maya fled to other locations or disappeared into the
jungle. Expansion of the Maya empire led to more warfare, which also led to more
blood sacrifices and offering all types of their most valuable possessions to
appease the gods or to gain favor with them.
Billy with pyramid in
When increasing population
demanded forest to be cleared for more corn production, it led to less animals
available to be hunted for food, a vital supplement to their corn diet.
Authoritarian structures of
society were questioned when rain did not come, and when a balance of food
became inaccessible. Since the Maya used their most valuable possessions in
sacrifice to the gods, they eventually had less and less to trade. Blood
sacrifices became out of control, doubts about the hierarchy increased, the
amount of corruption of the system also rose and it all combined to collapse this great civilization.
Maya had cities lasting
The peak of Maya glory was
around 700 A.D. and their sophisticated city-states had massive populations with
colorful pyramids, intricately carved temples and beautiful stone relief. Maya were famous
for their complex calendar system, their proficiency in math and astronomy and
had complicated governing system based upon their spiritual understanding of the
The ruins were compact
and much could be seen with little walking
As a tribal custom, the Maya practiced cranial
deformation. They slanted the front of a young child's head by placing two flat
boards around the soft bones of the skull and held them together with
This resulted in a high
forehead with a peak formation at the top of the head, all in a beautiful line with their
aquiline noses; a look they cherished.
Restoration work to let
you know what the old facades looked like
Bodies found in the tombs
of Palenque showed that teeth were inlaid with jade, a semi-precious stone respected for its
ability to help direct Maya through the confusing afterworld.
Today, we see modern day
Maya with gold stars and other gold decorations placed in their front teeth as a
sign of beauty, wealth and prestige.
Structures at Palenque
were in remarkably good shape
The night before we arrived
at the ruins, I heard the Maya myth of the talking cross. True or not, a cross
appeared to the Maya and spoke to them, helping them win their battles against
the Spanish. This is a Maya cross - not to be confused with the Catholic one -
and is based on the form of the Maya Ceiba tree, considered to be the Tree of Life.
Apparently, the Spanish
found this talking cross and took it from the Maya temples here at Palenque and
put it into one of the Cathedrals in Mexico City.
Maya calendar painted
Maya Red on a piece of leather
On our way to the section
of the Cruces, a Maya man and his wife were selling their Maya calendars hand painted on leather. Some of the leather pieces featured their myths and
stories and they had amulets for sale as well.
Chok correctly guessed the
month of my birth and then went to the calendar to point that month out to me.
Those born in the UO (pronounced BOO-oh) period like to dance a lot and to
exercise. I told Chok that I surely needed some exercise now, because I have
been getting fat, and we both laughed about that.
I asked him in which month
he was born and he told me June - under the sign that is slow but sure;
A Maya Calendar Wheel
with Spanish translations
Billy was off taking
photos, but when he joined me, he asked Chok about the
"end of the
world" in December, 2012. Chok clarified to us that the world will not end,
it will change. There may be sickness or people might not get through the
changes easily, but the world itself won't end.
"Don't worry," he said, "A
new cycle will begin."
Billy joked with Chok
saying we thought the world was for sure going to end, so we were spending all
our money by December. Chok laughed with us, but advised us not to do that...
I then asked him about the
talking cross. He did not bat an eye and said it was true -the Spanish stole it
and took it to Mexico City. He then told us more Maya stories and legends. We
gave him a tip for his time and went on to visit more of the ruins.
A more expansive view of
While Chok entertained us
with folklore and facts, there were other Maya vendors with different approaches
to making money.
One young Maya girl was a
true vision of beauty.
With loooong black hair
flowing over her shoulders and down to her waist, flirtatious eyes that twinkled
and promised more, a low cut blouse which framed her ample bosom, an intricately made ankle length
white skirt showing off a hand beaded anklet, this Princess-of-a-Maya was hard to miss.
The charismatic pull was palpable and it was even harder to get away once
we began conversation. The young Maya woman sold quality items made of obsidian
and onyx, along with bone inlaid with
coral, turquoise or amber.
We were in the modern
moment, but I felt I was having a glimpse into a regal past.
If I was bowled over
by her charms, men had to have been putty in her presence.
Palenque keeps well
The park where the ruins
are located also offered clean and well kept bathrooms. There are benches under
trees to take a rest or have a snack, and trash cans were available throughout
the park. Some signs said we were not to bring food and other signs say it would
be fine. Our bags were not searched and we ate our snack without incident.
waterfalls at Palenque
After hiking the ruins, we
continued on to the waterfalls which were lovely. One could easily listen to the
water fall from above, hit the rocks below and to watch nature for extended
There were several tour
groups at the park, so at points the walk to the waterfalls became crowded. Some
of the tourists in the groups were pretty funny, pushing their way to get to the
falls, taking a quick photo and immediately turning around and pushing their way
on to the next location. This behavior seemed out of sync with where we were.
At the edge of the park
there is a museum of Maya history, one of the better ones I have seen and worth
Here we are, sitting on
centuries-old Maya walls
Drizzled on and bedraggled,
we have soaked up the culture of the ancient Maya and have spoken with modern
If you decide to visit the
museum at the end of the walk through the ruins, bring your camera. Entrance to
the museum is free if you show your Palenque park ticket. There was good
information in the museum about this long-ago culture where the rulers claimed
divine parentage in order to give them the right to rule.
With two classes of people,
the nobility decreed and the common people were used as laborers for the needs
of the aristocracy. Kept ignorant and not taught how to read or write, the
common Maya only followed the rules laid down for them.
Claiming divine parentage
has been used throughout history to control the masses and in some cultures is
still used today.