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"Of course, like on most of the planet, this resource has been mutated into timber and boards for ticky-tacky houses in California and Rhode-Island."
- Kirk Stephan

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Revolution and the jungle
by Kirk Stephan, Iowa, USA
Apr 18, 2000

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Spring sprang while I was in Cuba. The cool rainy nights have been replaced by thick heat, replete with the buzzing whine of Mr. Mosquito. The "Indian" peoples here love it; when the days are perfect and crisp by our standards they complain and catch colds. The blossoms are out on the sugar cane and the trees that have survived the coconut-cancer here on the Quintana Roo coast are proudly showing the green of their new fruits. And that's quite a melancholy situation as coconut water had been a staple drink for thousands of years and is now near impossible to find.

As I back-track down through the "Mayan Riviera" (they've settled on this name after trying "Gold Coast", "Turquoise Coast", and a couple of others...) and Chetumal, I wonder how my old VW will respond to the new heat.

I found out on the worst stretch of them all a couple of days later. The Chetumal-to-Palenque run is some 500 kilometers of 2-lane, hot, scrub-tree lined, most boring piece of highway I've seen in Mexico.

There's almost nowhere to pull off. No siding and very few side roads. So I was lucky when that wire melted, stopping my engine, to find a 12-foot wide driveway to pull in to. Barely. I had a good 3 inches to spare as huge trucks barked and frowned at me as they sped by. Four hours in the tropical sun trying to flag down unresponsive drivers, fiddling with mysterious oily wires, squealing and leaping from the red ant bites left me beat and unhappy. Finally the "Green Angel" (Mexico's answer to broken- down tourist vehicles; these trucks with mechanics driving them roam the highways, though with less and less frequency as budgets dry up) appeared and fiddled with the same wires for a while. He finally admitted defeat and direct-wired my coil to the battery and I limped down another 100 k's and into Palenque.

This charming little town (10 k's from the famous ruins of the same name) hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. When I was here back then the 5 main streets stretched out for the same 12 blocks. They're still filled with small hotels and curio shops though tour operaters have joined them now, offering daily excursions to the waterfalls of Agua Azules and to the more distant pryamid-sites of Bonampak and Yaxchilan.

Onto the rainforest..

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