Trapped in PALENQUE, or Mexico’s ATRAPALENQUE

Trapped in PALENQUE, or Mexico’s ATRAPALENQUE

México Lindo, you are never too far from my mind, even though it’s now been over two years since I frolicked and transformed in your waters and jungles, chasing the Mayan Ruins and following intuition every step of the way. For how else does one end up so far down South in the region of CHIAPAS, extending her 2 week Solo Trip to 3 weeks, soaking up the PANCHÁN VIBES just outside of the ancient unearthed city of Palenque? Intuition guided and I followed. **To get back up to speed, do click on the links above to get back into México Mode. Are you still with me? CHIDO / COOL! I know it is completely my fault for having waited so long to complete these tales, but it matters not how much time has gone by since I was there in the flesh, everything lives on inside of me as if I was still there in that jungle. Likely, because in a way I still am in that jungle, at Panchán, in ATRAPALENQUE. Atrapar in Spanish means “to trap”, and this part of the world has such strong energy and pull that many who come to Palenque don’t leave. Now affectionately known as ATRA(PA)LENQUE, I found out just how true this was in my weeks there.

Hongos del la Selva, Palenque

Palenque Trapped Me

When I began getting accustomed to the energy here and familiar with the faces and names of the locals or other travelers passing through but staying for a time, I realized how few things I needed to feel alive. With pure nature all around me, at every turn there was something living to be thankful for. I first got familiar with the trees that towered over me and the plants too, then I made friends with the daily thunderstorms crashing down and around us, drenching me often and even flooding the grounds, CHA’AC god of Rain never too far away. Next I got comfortable with the howler monkeys with their bone-chilling cries and the spiders who moved into my room and spun webs challenging me that they were here to stay. I had moved out of the Jungle Palace after only a few nights to a cheaper accommodation on the property called “Mono Blanco” to an even simpler room. Kalimba convinced me to make peace with the spiders, telling me not to fear them because they weren’t going anywhere in fact.

Those first days I got close to Kalimba (the tour guide of the waterfall excursion), and thankfully so because he knew everyone at Panchán. We started having breakfast together every morning, which was either CHILAQUILES CON HUEVOS and BATIDOS DE FRUTA / FRUIT SMOOTHIES in the big restaurant, or the most delicious QUESADILLAS of my life paired with FRIJOLES NEGROS / BLACK BEANS, and BATIDOS DE FRUTA or FRUTA FRESCA / FRESH FRUIT like Papaya at a small food stand run by Doña Mariluz. I don’t exaggerate when I say that nearly every meal eaten I had drenched in Salsa de Habanero, made from one of the hottest local chiles (habanero) for that extra kick. Homemade and always available, I was becoming an addict, itching for the heat on my tongue even first thing in the morning. Kalimba and Doña Mariluz were both from a region of México I have yet to experience called Vera Cruz, but one of my tíos is from this region and he happens to be the best Chef in my family. So you can probably understand why I was hooked on her cooking in Palenque.

The delights of México; Quesadillas from Doña Mariluz, micheladas, chelas
Just some of salsas Picantes that I got really comfortable with

When we weren’t eating, Kalimba showed me other beautiful spots in the surrounding, taking me to rivers, temples, more waterfalls, a virgin jungle, and the like. He was also a part of Panchán’s Live Music Band in the afternoons and nights, a group which played cumbias, salsas and música Son Cubano for those dining at the restaurant. I couldn’t get enough of the sounds of Mi Gente, Latinos, cantando y tocando con puro alma. Every night I watched them play, and every night their music lit me up, warmed the heart. Their music was followed by drumming and a fire show many nights. What else did I need? I had everything here. Did I mention I was only supposed to stay four days and three nights? Four days became at least a week (I extended the 2 week trip to 3 weeks while here) in Panchán. What else did I need? My soul felt at home here. Some of the locals even started calling me part of LA BANDA / THE GANG, saying I was a CAMARADA. I swear that nothing could have made me happier in these days than these simple moments, sometimes drinking CHELAS around a table playing cards, talking shit. Other times laughing my ass off when the beers brought inhibitions down and all of us were a little truer to form, wild even. I also retreated to my HAMACA often, a beautiful handmade and colorful work of art I had purchased in Palenque town, rocking myself while it rained, napping when the body was tired, and reading or writing in my travel log from my little haven in Panchán.

Waterfalls of Palenque, Chiapas

Hamaca Time in Panchán, Palenque Mexico
Live Music at Panchán, Palenque
Live Music at Panchán

Purest Nature, Purest Open Heart

I also found that my curiosity for the spiritual realm was heightened here. Since my arrival, everyone spoke to me of los hongitos de Palenque. . . famed because they come right from the land after a good and hard rain, because they are the medicine of the Maya, the people of Chiapas. And no matter how many days I resisted, in the end, I too wanted to experience what my local friend Xel called “el Viaje”. So Kalimba took me on a long walk, a long walk indeed out into the jungle to allow me to get in touch with the medicine. Picked fresh after the morning rain, Xel told me as I left Panchán for Kalimba’s special place in the jungle: Bonito Viaje! He told me that they would show me what I needed to see. Without any more hesitation, I ate a family of mushrooms and waited a few hours for the effects to take shape. My only intention: Ver cómo me CONECTAN / To see how they CONNECT ME. 

The Verdict (Taken from my travel Journal Oct 2015)

Era chido. Era espiritual. Los colores. Los verdes de la jungla. Sensación de estar UNIDA. Todo alrededor de mí, toda la naturaleza, se presentaba a mí, como un regalo. Yo estaba allí para recibirlo, pero también para apreciarlo. CONECTANDO PARA SENTIRME PARTE DEL MUNDO, del agua, de la tierra, del viento, de todo.

CUANDO SUELTO LA NECESIDAD DE ESTAR EN CONTROL ES CUANDO FLUYE, CUANDO FLUYEN LAS COSAS. ES TAMBIÉN CUANDO ME EMPEZÉ A ABRIRME AL VIAJE / WHEN I LET GO OF THE NEED TO BE IN CONTROL IS WHEN IT FLOWS, WHEN THINGS FLOW. IT IS ALSO WHEN I BEGAN TO OPEN MYSELF TO THE TRIP. There were Alice & Wonderland-like moments too, when I was seeing the shapes, the circles, the roots, the branches, the leaves, everything so clearly in my environment. It felt more than 3-D. It felt completely Alive, this place. I even saw the branches, trunks and vines of the trees form a THRONE / TRONO, a seat perhaps for Alice. . . if she was only willing to take it. Then I chased the most magical butterfly for as long she allowed, knowing somehow that we were one in the same. For what is a butterfly but a transformed creature in flight, FREE! Was I in another world? Yes, a world I was visiting and partaking in, with a completely open heart. I am so grateful for that afternoon/evening where I connected in a way I didn’t even know was possible to Chiapas, to Palenque, to Earth/Tierra and to the Divine. When afternoon turned to night, we walked back to Panchán at night, and fireflies showed me the way in the now darkened jungle.

My teachers, I find them in Nature
El Panchan Hostal, Mexico
Jungle engulfs me and I am home
Chiapas Waterfalls, mexico
What else did I need, MEXICO LINDO
Magical places in Palenque, Mexico

Universe Knows

Fated, I will even go so far as to say Everything Is Fated/in Divine Order, everything about my decision to travel throughout México, to visit Chiapas, and Palenque, and Panchán… to stay longer and longer, to be at the bus station to leave back to Cancun but then a bus fiasco and no ticket for me to purchase… It all happened as it was meant to. Universe knows best! Trust in this. Back to Panchán, hoping to get some more clarity of my purpose and also hoping to connect more. . . if only for a few days longer. It’s about how you look at your present situation. Your perspective creates your reality. I had an amazing (life-changing even) 2 weeks of highs and lows and of being in it, REALLY IN IT, in the world at Panchán, con toda LA BANDA, accepting me because I was mexicana in the heart and maybe too because Kalimba brought me everywhere.


Jungle of my heart, EL PANCHÁN, Palenque
Mono Blanco home, Xel my Mayan Camarada, Kalimba and Panchán Jungle

My experience at Panchán wasn’t everything I wanted, but was instead everything I needed. In total I stayed almost two weeks. I am blessed and humbled. I left with the mindset to continue to do the soul work at home, to shed more layers of “want” and “desire” and “possession”. . . I have been shown that happiness is in the little things, the accidental moments, the serendipitous or better said SYNCHRONISTIC encounters. Happiness is in the relationships formed and cared for, and in the moments with beers and nowhere to go, no schedule to follow. Happiness is that hammock where I felt so at home, even through the earth-shaking thunderstorms. I am so blessed to have had the courage to put myself out there time and again, to make connections and friendships no matter how brief they were. I met people from all over the world, and they inspired me. They taught me and shared a little bit of themselves with me, and I with them.
Forever in my heart, ATRAPALENQUE. Gracias!!

CHAMBIAR: to work

LA CHAMBA: the work

COMBI: the public transpo

BARROS: money, pesos

CHELAS: the beers

CHIDO: cool, awesome

HUISHAR: to pee

CAMARADA: friend, pal

LA BANDA: the gang

VIEJA/VIEJO: my woman/my man

MORA: my woman/ my love


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14 Responses

  1. It’s always an incredible feeling to find a place that inspires and revives you while travelling. It looks like you had tons of fun there – from listening to live music to swimming near waterfalls, it looks like a slice of heaven!

  2. That food looks so good! What a great selection of hot sauces. I’ve been to many parts of Mexico but never here. Looks like an awesome place to relax for a few days!

  3. Holy cow, you have the best off-the-path, true backpacking adventures ever! I immensely enjoyed reading through your first-hand account of this place. I’m not much of an adventure traveler, but I can live vicariously through your experiences!

  4. What a great story of how being in a place, with the right mindset, can so profoundly impact you. Wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing. 😀

  5. Your pictures justify why you’re trapped there! With no people around, breathtaking nature views and yummy food who would want to leave from this place. Gorgeous photos.

  6. I felt like I was right there alongside you in your discovery. What a beautiful tale of connection with the earth, with others and most importantly with yourself. I think it’s wonderful that you are able to follow your intuition and go with the flow taking the time you need to get to know yourself through travel. I hope others gain inspiration from your story.

  7. Mexico is an amazing place and there is so much to explore. Looks like you made the most of your time in this region and experienced the authentic culture!

  8. I have always loved Mexico, but not so sure about living in the jungle! As long as the spiders eat all the other bugs, maybe…

  9. I always love reading post about new places;-) Your photos have perfectly captured the beauty of this area ! I’m a truly nature lover and your photos of beautiful pristine pools rivers and forests are stunning. When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor. I love this feeling 🙂

  10. I was worried from the title that it was going to be a misadventure story! Glad that the trip helped you find yourself more. Also the photos of the food are mouthwatering.

  11. I have visited several Mayan ruins (Tikal, Chichen Itza, Caracol, Copan) and it is very difficult not to get fascinated with the Mayan civilization after seeing the wonderful places they created. I still need to visit Palenque. Several people have told it is their favorite Mayan city because of the setting and architecture. Loved reading about your experience in the area.

  12. Wow this looks like a really special place! Would love to get to Mexico one day!

  13. I love reading your article. Your writing is great and your pictures very inspiring!!

  14. I know the feeling about feeling “trapped” in a place! We ended up staying months in Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka, and we are currently several months in Dali, China. Mexico has so much to offer, and I can see why Palenque would have that same feel!

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