Palenque, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, is said to be the most beautiful of the Mayan ruins. Palenque is 399 miles from Merida over a new paved road, or the visitor can fly to Villahermosa, ninety miles northwest of Palenque. Similar archeological sites are found in northern Guatemala (Tikal is most grand). Copan is in Honduras.
About twenty miles south of Cancun is the island of Cozumel (Island of Swallows in the Mayan language), where a sleepy style of tourism has developed.
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Cozumel has an inter-national airport. Several flights a day connect the two islands as does a service by hydrofoil. Cozumel is mostly tangled jungle, flat, nine by twenty-nine miles. The visitor can scoot around the island's one highway on a rented moped and snorkel or scuba dive among the coral reefs just offshore.
Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city, population one and three-quarters million. Again because of its altitude, 1,567 meters, it has a pleasant climate, warmer than Mexico City, with the same dry winters and wet summers.
South of Mexico City, still in the mountains, are Cuernavaca, Taxco and Oaxaca. From Mexico City Cuernavaca takes about an hour-and-a-half. Cuernavaca (kwehr-nah-VAH-cah), capital of the State of Morelos, is a summer capital for vacationers from Mexico City. Winters are dry while summer brings rain. Taxco is ninety minutes farther south from Cuernavaca and known for its silver-working craftsmen. Few know that it was a young American writer who was largely responsible for getting the silver craft started back in 1929. Declared a national monument, the town will retain its colonial character because modern structures are prohibited.