We landed in Villahermosa and Tiny and I split up from the Kiwi couple. They had tweaked their tour a bit and wanted to see some different sights to us. The main attraction in town was yet more ruins of an the ancient Mayan civilisation, but I guess there was nothing else you could really do there. Villahermosa was a bit more rural and undeveloped than other places we had been to in Mexico. There were a lot of beggars on the streets and unfinished construction projects. We went out to a restaurant for some dinner and as usual were the only westerners around, and we could feel eyes upon us everywhere we went. Guides had told us that everyone would probably think that we are Americans which may or may not be a bad thing. I went back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep but Tiny had gone past his minimum two drinks which meant the start of an unstoppable binge. This was one place where I felt a little uneasy leaving him alone while hammered. But I thought screw it, he can handle himself. He stumbled back into the room hours later groaning and then collapsed on his bed.
There are so many reports of violence, murders and kidnappings in the news about Mexico but we never encountered any hostility or dangerous situations the entire trip. Well, I think Tiny may have during a few of his binges, but he never remembered much the next morning. All the violence usually involved internal drug cartel wars and tourists were left alone. If tourists were harmed then the already dwindling tourism industry would surely die. It took a few slaps to wake Tiny up in the morning. Why couldn’t he be one of those guys that were easy to wake up? I wish I could sleep like that. We were picked up by the guide in a small van and were the only two on the tour as usual which made it better. I’ll never know how so many people can sign up for that Contiki tour bullshit getting coached around to token sight after sight like a school excursion. We drove through the decaying streets and were heading for Palenque, an ancient Mayan city that dates back to 226 BC. There were a shitload of military checkpoints on the roads. The guide told us that they were checkpoints looking for illegal immigrants from Guatemala, and it seemed funny that Mexico had its own illegal border crossing problem just like the US.
We stopped for a coffee at a café on the side of the road and Tiny told us stories from Iraq. He was telling us about how he had shacked up with an American nurse and had to sneak out at night to visit her. We drove on and eventually arrived at the gate to a national park where the ruins were located. It was guarded by soldiers with M16s and we paid an entry fee. The ruins were amazing, and we walked around the site for hours as the guide explained everything to us. We had lunch with the guide after and gave him a tip which was the custom in Mexico just like in the US. We were happy to tip the guides as they did an excellent job. Generally speaking though, not being used to tipping it was always a little awkward, especially in the US when they were so forward about asking for it. Thank God we don’t do it here.