On our last day, we are glad to be heading to a series of waterfalls as the weather is extremely hot and humid. The air is so heavy you feel it feels as if we are wading through cotton wool. We hook up with an organised tour for the falls of Misol-Ha. Our driver speaks no English, as is the case for most locals we’ve come across during the trip so far but thanks to fellow tourists on the bus we manage not to get left behind. My grappling of Spanish is still very rudimentary and I find it difficult to catch up with numerals and telling time. We’re starving and we learn to say things like ‘Mi tengo hambre‘ which means I’m hungry and also get tips not to get ‘hambre‘ and ‘hombre‘ mixed up because the latter says you’ve had a lot of men!
Misol-Ha has a small trek which takes you behind the falls itself and into a small cave and we spend some time being sprayed by fine mist and dunking our feet in the cool waters gushing out of streams and rock beds. The next stop is to the pretty turquoise blue waters of Agua Azul. We are lucky that despite the rains, the water is clear blue and not murky brown. Peter even goes for a dip as I am surrounded by children peddling their wares at the shore. We befriend an American backpacker by the name of Lindsay who sits with me on the bank of the river and shares stories of her own travels through Central America. Like her, many young travelers we meet have no set idea of how long they will be traveling and are so free with where they will go next. How nice it must be, not to have responsibilities and to be able to go where the inclination takes you.
Before it gets dark, we head back to our hostel in El Panchan which is a funky well-known traveler’s hang out set in dense rainforest. Despite being located in the heart of the jungle, our rooms are spotlessly clean and are surprisingly free of mosquitoes, we spot fireflies as the sun sets but no snakes or frogs yet! The guidebook describes it as the trippy epicenter of Palenque’s alternative scene and home to a bohemian bunch of Mexican and Western residents. It even has an old US Navy veteran who has lived here for 10 years and gives us an earful about those ‘Moslem’ problems in the world and dangers in other parts of Mexico. I recall reading about gang warfare and violence against women in towns closer to the border of the US and Mexico. We’re glad to be far away from those areas but resolve not to be too complacent about personal safety as we travel the rest of Mexico on our own.