Travel Journal: Mexico
What a blessing we have been given as Centre students studying abroad in Mexico! I want to start this entry with a grand moment of thanksgiving to the study abroad office and professors that have developed such a remarkable program here in Mérida.
When we first arrived we were swept off for a tour of the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. For a second time, we were guided on another wonderful journey. This time we headed in the opposite direction—to the Mexican state of Chiapas.
Late on Sunday night, we filed onto a charter bus toting pillows, blankets, and the warmest clothes we had (which didn't consist of much more than a pair of jeans and light jacket). Eight hours later, after experiencing a heavy thunderstorm and a thousand new sleeping positions on a bus, we were in the land of our next adventure.
Palenque, a Maya ruin, was our first stop. Comparing the extreme contrast of architecture with the Mayan cities we had previously seen, I could partially begin to grasp the diversity of the great ancient Mayan culture. Despite the differences, there is one aspect I've never doubted—the phenomenal intelligence and determination of a people to build such grand structures without the help of domestic animals or the wheel. The city of Palenque is surrounded by jungle, making for a breathtaking environment of thick, overhanging trees and trickling waterfalls. We'd soon become personal friends with this same jungle.
Losing contact with modern civilization, we drove away from the cities and into the deep cover of trees. The jungle would be our first host, welcoming us into its beautiful land of deep green leaves, rushing clear waters, and a population of insects certainly far from any risk of extinction. Rushing over rapids while rafting, hiking through the leaf-packed trails, and climbing up waterfalls with the excitement of a child venturing through Disney World, our fears and worries of the not quite five-star accommodations dissolved just as fast as the mosquitoes enjoyed their first long taste of Kentucky-student blood.
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