We had the honor of visiting the Mayan ruins at Palenque yesterday with Moises Morales and a Canadian traveler. He was a tour guide when the site first opened and later became involved in the anthropology and archaeology of the site. Two of his sons are now archaeologists and they too worked at the site. Moises was part of the 1973 Mesa Redonda (Round Table) in Palenque with Yuri Knorozov where they made major breakthroughs in decoding the Mayan language.
Moises had not been to the ruins in several years prior to this visit. We were honored when he asked if we would be his guests. It was surreal experiencing Palenque with a man who has been heavily involved in the site since it first opened its doors to the public.
When we entered the archaeological zone, he told us not to look to our right. He led us several hundred yards and up a set of stairs. We walked behind the North Group which is near the Ball Court. He had us close our eyes and one by one he guided us to a “window” in the structure. He asked us to slowly open our eyes. When we did, we saw the Temple of the Inscriptions for the first time, from a vantage point where the temple was all you could see. He wanted us to see the Temple for the first time without being overwhelmed by everything else surrounding it. He is such a gentle, inspiring man.
I found myself watching Moises during most of our visit. Throughout our visit, he would tell a significant story, his eyes would water up and he would stare off at the temple or some other structure. You could see the love of Palenque in his eyes. He told us about an American woman, Linda Schele, who studied Mayan Epigraphy (study of ancient inscriptions) with whom he fell in love. He pointed our attention to a tree that was planted in her honor when she passed away from cancer nearly ten years ago. I felt the love in his eyes when talked about her.
This was my very first visit to an ancient ruin and I could not have asked for a better or more personal experience.