21 Feb. 2009
Bus departed Ciudad del Carmen 9:00 a.m.
Another day, another state. And another. We lost time waiting for traffic stalled on the bridge into Tabasco. Armando borrowed binoculars and clambered on top of our bus to investigate. Ria Grijalva meets the Gulf of Mexico with a mud brown line. The state of Tabasco is a flat, steamy lowland; prone to flooding.
Thanks to Mexico’s state oil company (Pemex), Tabasco has emerged from poverty into one of Mexico’s more prosperous states. When petroleum exploration threatened the ancient Olmec settlement of La Venta in western Tabasco, archaeologists moved the site's colossal stone heads (circa 900 B.C.) to capitol city Villahermosa.
The open-air Parque-Museo La Venta, is an archaeological museum and zoo set in a lakeside park. The sculpture trail includes a giant ceiba, the sacred tree of the Olmec and Maya. Coatimundis (“tijon”), squirrels and black agoutis roam freely.
Barbecoa de Borrego is a weekend treat, since it takes many hours to barbecue the goats. We ate at Toma Lo Bueno in Villahermosa, much to the delight of the wait staff, who took as many photos of the crazy Americans as we did of them.
MEXICO 186 to MEXICO 199 to Palenque
We drove from Tabasco, into Chiapas, along the Sierra Madre Occidental. Pine forest highlands, rainforest jungles and colonial cities exist side by side within Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. We arrived at our hotel just before sunset.