Mexico 27, 2nd May 2004

In the morning I walked around, visited the grotto, incredible cave descending down and dripping, but muddy and impossible to easily descend. Also I'd forgotten my flashlight, but here's a nearby arch with river running through.

On the way back I encountered some bird catchers. Catching measuring then freeing birds, mostly humming birds, for research, wish I'd taken a photo. On to Chinkultic.

That's the plaza. The plaza was overlooked by hills and they built on the hills.

Here's an example of building one structure on top of another. They filled in the space between with rocks.

I had to buy more gas. No filling stations. First place I asked quoted a silly price, 140 pesos for 16 litres, I said no thank you and drove on. At the next convenience store I paid around pump price, 100 pesos for 17 litres, actually I bought 34 litres. Doesn't take an Einstein to work out the first price was a rip off. It seemed I was using a lot of fuel so I have added up the mileage. On this Frontier Road there are no places to turn off, except to reach villages. If you start one end you either continue to the other end, or you turn back. There's no where else to go, no road junctions. You start one end, you finish the other. No alternatives. I labour this point because on the whole 491 Km (306 miles) of this main road with no turnoffs there is not one filling station. With a car there is nowhere to go except the other end. Sure there are two places you can catch a boat to Guatemala but for people only, there is no car ferry. Can you imagine? You start a road and there is nowhere to go except the other end more than 300 miles away.

I went to Tenem Puente. You can't easily make it out on this quality of image but my van is in view in the car park centre top.

Here also they had hills, and used them when they built. This is the view from a high terrace looking away from the plaza and the main area of the city.

There are actually 3 ball courts here, all close by to each other, I've no idea why they had so many. Maybe here they did play the game as a sport, they can't have been chopping the heads of all the captains each time they played.

Here's another example of building one on top of another. It's easier to see here, where the restorations are less complete. Notice the stonework here on the 2nd phase is much higher quality then the first.

In Comitan I got some stuff done on the van. First alignment. (Eng: track and camber, Fr: parallelism) While checking that they noted that one end of the anti roll bar was not attached. Ah! That's why I thought the shock absorbers were giving up. They're attached that using bits they had around. It goes around corners much better now. I suspect it has been unattached for the whole of this trip. Now I just had someone telling me that in the US you can get stuff to stop windscreen cracks spreading. Sure. Now these Mexican mechanics are good, sometimes brilliant, but they don't have stuff to work with. Such as tools. When I had the new tyre fitted the guy needed a spanner (a wrench), he had to borrow one from the mechanic next door. When they had adjusted the alignment they checked they had got it right by using a tape measure on the separation of the front and back of the front wheels. I also had an oil change in Comitan, they also checked the air filter, it was almost choked with dust. Now it's clean I might get better fuel consumption.

Oh by the way the bunches of leaves that I mentioned earlier being flown in by the Cessna were tobacco leaves.

Best regards

David Barker

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