Into San Cristobal de las Casas

*This is part 2 of a 13-part series. Read part 1 here.*

What are you, insane or something?!

The response is typical when telling friends and family back home, “I’m hitch-hiking through Mexico.” Subsequent is a barrage of stern don’t-you-watch-the-news’s and does-your-mother-know-you’re-doing-this’s that, although well-meaning, are largely misguided as they are the product of a mainstream media whose only message is fear.

That said, yes, there are dangers. Continue reading

Into Palenque

*This is part 1 of a 13-part series.*

The antiquated bus putters to a halt a few meters from the rusty bridge.

“This is the end of Belize — you need to walk over to Mexico.”

There is a popular illusion that countries are separated by squiggly black lines, but I have yet to encounter one. Often what separates one country from another is a bridge – architectural forms that, ironically enough, are meant to connect two places. Continue reading

ATM Caves in Belize: Calcified in Xibalba

ATM cave entrance

Unlike everything else in the Caribbean, the mid-morning downpour is right on time.

“Hurry up and jump in the river before you get wet!” jokes our tour guide.

He is referring to the river that lolls out of the mouth of the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave like some glassy tongue.

Mythically linked to the Mayan underworld of Xibalba, this cave system was the site of gory sacrifices spanning from 1 CE to 1000 CE. After the civilization collapsed, the ATM caves were abandoned for over a thousand years, only remembered by wary locals who feared the black abyss where so many spirits had been surrendered to the gods. Continue reading