Somewhere on the road between the town of Palenque and the ruins of Palenque is a funny little place called El Panchan. It’s a travelers’ compound, made up of clusters of rooms and cabanas hidden behind big leaves and giant trees run by four or five different operators. Somehow amongst the ramshackle accommodation typical of the area Austin and I found ourselves in a spotless studio opening up directly to the jungle.
Our place of residence in El Panchan is Margarita and Ed’s. To get to it follow the small signs over a bridge and down a dirt path until a house appears through the brush. Once assigned a bed for the night, marvel at how Margarita’s buildings seem to appear out of nowhere along the stone trail.
For dinner head over to Don Mucho’s for amazing brick-oven pizza and live music. You’ll hear several different languages at the tables around you – these are your neighbors in El Panchan. There will be locals there too, come out from town to enjoy the food and ambiance. When you find yourself tired and full, head back to Margarita and Ed’s. There you’ll fall asleep in your clean, cozy bed to the sounds of the jungle. In the morning you’ll awake to the songs of tropical birds and howler monkeys. Then, if you’re smart, you’ll spend the day climbing through magnificent, ancient ruins.
The moral of the story: if you’re headed to the ruins of Palenque, stay in El Panchan and Margarita and Ed’s. You won’t regret it.