On the 2 1/2-hour return to Palenque, Lehman decides to reverse the course of the trip. The revised route would have a better chronological flow, leading from the lowland cities of the ancient Maya to highland villages such as Chamula and Zinacantán, inhabited by their descendants. The revised plan would also build to San Cristóbal, the crown jewel of Chiapas, and eliminate the need for a night in Tuxtla.
Our trip ends in Villahermosa, Tabasco, an oil town with global-economy trappings: Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and KFC. The ALA itinerary has promised “optional salsa dancing.” Our group, however, is too tired to consider any nonessential movement.
THREE weeks later, ALA ships its catalog to the printers, complete with a rebuilt Chiapas: Rainforest to Ruins trip. The new itinerary will begin in Villahermosa and then flip the scouting trip we took, with a two-night Palenque stay followed by four nights in San Cristóbal.
“There is no place to salsa the night away, however,” Lehman says.
But McLellan is still looking.
Austin-Lehman Adventures’ eight-day Chiapas: Rainforest to Ruins trip has three departure dates annually (in December and February). 800/575-1540; austinlehman.com; $3,298 per person, based on double occupancy.