Day 191. Thursday, 6th February. From San Cristobal De La Casas to the Tonina Ruins near Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico

Today we found “U-TOPE-ia!! Never ending topes. Our journey was just over 100 kilometres, but it took us 4 hours. Very wearisome. The constant changing down to first gear to climb over. Worse still the occasional one you don’t see in the dappled shadow and crash over. Most are unmarked. Driving through small indigenous villages. Many of the topes have been put in place for commercial reasons, to slow you down so there is an opportunity to sell something to you.

Arriving at the ruins in the heat of the day, was not the best timing. Parking under a tree we had some lunch to refuel us after the tiring ride. First stop was the museum. Well presented, but unfortunately all in Spanish. A large number of artefacts from the Tonina ruins site. Skulls, stone carvings and some models of how the site would have looked.

It was quite a walk down to the ruins. Pretty though. A pastoral scene with herds of cows and horses grazing contentedly. In fact we remarked it could be England or New Zealand.

In its day, around AD700, this was a powerful city. It bought Palenque to its knees. Tonina became known as the place of the Celestial Captives because its chambers held the rulers of Palenque and other Maya cities. They were destined to be either ransomed for large sums or decapitated.

We climbed in the blazing sun to the top of the ruins. Or everyone else did. I stopped just below the top tier. Passing altars where decapitations had taken place, was rather sobering.

Stopping for ice creams and water on the way out to the car park, we then moved a little way away from the car park to a camp site. Up from the road among the trees, we were surrounded by squawking parrots. Small, chubby green ones with very strong beaks. They settled in the top of one of the trees, before flying off to their nighttime resting place.

I was inside Poki cooking dinner, when there were cries to come and look at the birds. There were huge groups of black birds swirling around, like starlings. I was too late to see them, but did see them the following morning. Really high up in the sky.

After the children were bed, we sat outside and chatted for a while before retiring. There were a few fire flies twinkling in the grass.

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