Gringos often find themselves intoxicated by a heady sense of freedom when they venture south of the border. However, I continually caution travelers especially women that for all of the modern changes that have come to Mexico in the past years, the culture remains very conservative and macho-oriented. In the following letter, Rachel Greenberg describes a terrifying close call in the jungle near Palenque:
Dear Lorena & Carl,
I had heard through the grapevine at the Maya Bell Campground that one could hike to the back entrance of the Palenque ruins from the campground or road. The trail has beautiful waterfalls and wading pools and is enormously popular for skinny dipping by Europeans.
So I hiked there, thinking I would not be alone. There were other tourists, but the jungle is so dense that after just turning a corner, I didnt know if I was alone or not.
I was soon attacked by two Mexican men. I assume they were stalking me. They were going to rape me. I wont go into the gory details, but thanks to my fighting back, and possibly a miracle, I got away without being raped.
The guards at the ruins were extremely helpful... and the police were surprisingly courteous..... but I later heard that there have been many robberies and rapes on that trail.
...I should have written you sooner but I had some healing to do. Please warn your readers!
Carl: I know this trail and used it often until I began to regularly encounter men who were obviously more interested in salivating than birdwatching. Unfortunately, skinny dippers and nude sunbathers always attract undesirable attention in Mexico. Pressure from sun-loving tourists has caused some communities to tolerate nudity in special circumstances, but public nudity is definitely illegal and definitely frowned upon by most people.
It is one thing to sunbathe on a crowded beach with like-minded company close at hand, (Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo has an unofficial nude beach), and quite another to do it in a secluded, unprotected place. Once an area is known to have naked gringas 'available', it is inevitable that rapists, muggers and mouth-breathers will move in. At that point, everyone becomes potential prey, whether they intend to skinny-dip or not. In Palenque, the heavy jungle obviously provides a perfect setting for incidents such as Rachel described.
Please, be careful!