One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
DEC. 7, 2010
On the way to Cancún, I thought it would be fun to see the Piramides at Palenque. Villahermosa was the closest city, and also around the halfway point from Oaxaca to Cancún.
I didn’t plan well, however, and as such my travel partner and I missed the bus to Palenque. We were forced to spend the day in Villahermosa.
This little city isn’t exactly a destination hot spot. There are no beaches, no fancy architecture. In fact, a little while ago, the city was flooded up to the top of one-storey buildings. It’s obvious that they’re still recovering.
The lack of tourists and tourist-oriented help, however, gave us a view of a city as a whole, not as a city wants the world to see it.
No one spoke English, and our accents seemed difficult to understand. In most of our other destinations, we were able to make do with our passable Spanish; here, however, it took a few repeats before anyone could understand what we were saying.
Villahermosa also had a the popular street-side markets that I thought were only to be found in tourist-centres Oaxaca and Mexico City. Wonderfully tacky decorations hung from strings above, smacking my six-foot partner in the head if he wasn’t paying attention.
While we were sitting on a bench, him eating street-meat, a student passed us. As we spoke to each other, I saw the student’s face light up.
“You’re tourists?!” he said, starting a rant about how he was a tourism student, working on a certificate and the local university.
“There was once, I was with a friend, and we met a couple of tourists …”
Once? I thought. Once?!
“They spoke English, but they spoke really good Spanish, too, so we spoke in Spanish.”
I couldn’t get over it. Once?!
He said tourists weren’t really popular in Villahermosa, adding with a smile that we should promote the city so they’d get more visitors.
So, here’s my glowing recommendation of the nice, friendly city with few tourists. But don’t forget about the Piramides in Palenque – the bus leaves early in the morning.