Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chiapa de Corzo

Often it's the things you DON'T expect that are better then the ones you're counting on! I have to admit when the itinerary said Chiapa de Corzo was where we would spend our last night in order to ride a boat in a canyon, I thought "Uh, do I want to do that?" Of course I had NO idea what I was thinking.........as usual. So we take off, leaving San Cristobal (I'm saving San Cristobal for the last blog) and the only thing I was thinking about, since we had had tons of rain the night before from Hurricane Arthur, was that we get through the mountains without mudslides, rockslides or blocked roads. Instead we had fog as bad as I've ever seen. BUT we had a most careful and cautious bus driver, thankfully, and we got through the mountains without any mishaps. WHEW!
So we arrive in this tiny, tiny town and the first thing I see in their zocalo is this magnificent Pila
or fountain. It was built in 1562! It is brickwork in the best Hispano-Arabian style called Mudejar. Many things were very Moorish or Arabian in style including some of the clothing used in their ceremonies! It is heralded by experts in Muslim art as worth coming to Mexico just to see this structure. Who knew?
Add to this delightful discovery the fact that I have tried to track down, all over Mexico, literally, the gourds as seen in this photo below and I find out that they are made in this village! I collect them. Here in Chiapa de Corzo they are used in the Fiesta honoring San Sebastian on January 14th - one of the largest festivals in Mexico (which is saying something) and in Oaxaca they are used in the Gueleguetza celebration. I looked all over Oaxaca for them to no avail, nada. And I almost had apoplexy when I walked in shop after shop here and saw zillions on shelves everywhere. Luckily I had almost NO money left and NO room in my suitcase, so was only able to buy one magnificent one. There is always another day..............I truly found the "mother lode". In this town they are called "toal" like the tolework done in the New England states and in Oaxaca they are called jicapextles. This is probably too much information. Aren't they wonderful? The dresses are all made in this village also and "magnficent" is not strong enough for the beauty of all the embroidery work and
detail work done on each one. I intend to return here for the Feast of San Sebastian. Below is the hotel we stayed at which was lush and tropical. It is called La Ceiba because of all the big ceiba trees in this town. It was lovely.......One of only two hotels.

So, then came the reason for the overnight in Chiapa de Corzo. We walked down to the dock to get in the boats to go up the canyon. The land around this area of entry was relatively flat so I wasn't sure what all the fuzz was about............I soon learned. After donning life jackets, taking hats, sunglasses and anything else that could fly off of our bodies, we took off. I use that term loosely, because we truly were flying across the water. YIKES! Once we reached the canyon however, we slowed down and the boat, all of it, was in the water.........WHEW! There are no words to describe the majesty of this place. It is a sacred place to the people and I certainly understand why. The cliffs were so high we were like a speck on the water. There are waterfalls, caves, outcroppings, birds, flowers and NO development. It took us two hours to go the length of the river. NO development. And then we turned around to come back. Oh, I forgot to tell you one of the funniest things that happened - well it's funny now. Midway down the canyon it started to rain, HARD, really, really HARD and it was getting cold, really really COLD. So they stopped the boat - took a giant tarp, stretched it over all of us (about 20) and we all held on for dear life both to the edges and to with our arms straight up so we didn't suffocate from "tarp". It was a hysterically funny sight. We stayed in this position for at least a half hour and were relieved when it stopped raining............well stopped for a while. What an adventure! I'm sorry I don't have a picture to share but both hands were busy.................

I wish I could post all of my photos that I took because I probably took at least 20 . It was hard to get the scale of it, but if you click on this picture and look in the right corner you'll see how tiny the boats are in relation to the cliffs. This scene appears on the emblem of the State of Chiapas. Spectacularly beautiful isn't it? This is called the Sumidero Canyon.



4 comments:

Kay Cox said...

OMG...who woulda thought all this in Mexico. This is a trip of a lifetime. Holy Moly. I am just excited taking the trip vicariously through you. But what an adventure! Beautiful, beautiful!

Brenda said...

Beautiful.

Babs said...

Thanks Kay and Brenda - Kay you would have LOVED this trip! Next to the trip to Guatemala, it is probably my most favorite ever......

Billie said...

I wish we would have had time to take the trip down the canyon when we visited Chiapas. You are writing a great travelogue. I'm looking forward to the next installment.