Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chiapas - A Place Like No Other

Chiapas is a unique place to visit.  It is the most indigenously occupied state in Mexico.  More like Guatemala to me then Mexico.  If I'm not mistaken our guide said over 60% of the inhabitants are
indigenous peoples - Mayan in great numbers.  They are a proud, fierce and beautiful people.

For me, being among the indigenous was the purpose of my moving to Mexico.  That is probably
why Michoacan, Chiapas, Oaxaca and the area around Creel where the Tarahumara live are my
favorite places.

Chiapas is pristinely beautiful.  Posted today are eight photos out of 223. These are my favorites.
My first trip eight years ago, we flew into Tuxtla Guiterrez and headed directly for San Cristobal de las Casas thereby using that as the spoke for side trips.  This trip began by flying into Villahermosa, Tabasco and then driving to Palenque the next day for the spectacular beginning of a very different trip then previously.
Above is one photo of Palenque.  Humid and hot and at an altitude of 60 meters, we were lucky that
it was a slightly overcast day and our group was just about the only people at the site!

I'll write a post, just on Palenque next, but wanted to share the above photo as one of my favorites.
The next morning we headed off for a LONG day of driving to San Cristobal de las Casas.  It was a ten hour traveling day.  But, we did stop along the way to see exquisite sites such as above which is Misol-Ha waterfall.  
 Then on to Casacadas de Aqua Azul to wander the area and to enjoy the most spectacularly colored waters which are caused, they say, by the limestone that the falls wash over.  If you look closely at this photo, camouflaged, is a green hummingbird!  It let me get this close without fear.  Amazing.
 And, here are the falls.  The sound, the color, the surroundings elicited sighs from all.  A few even
swam for a while before we had lunch in one of the many palapa restaurants on the grounds.
 The drive was winding and slow.  At many points, as I was sitting next to the window, it was possible for me to look down at the edge of the road and the canyon or whatever was at the edge of the road.  It was a good thing that we had a trusty driver who our tour guide knew and praised.  Whew.

The above photo was taken at an overlook just outside Ocosingo.  We were climbing by this time out of the jungles of the Lancondon peoples and had passed Tonina, another archaeological site.  We were leaving behind the humidity and heat. 
 San Cristobal is in the highlands.  It is 2,140 meters or about 7100 ft above sea level.  I mentioned above that we had passed through part of the Lacondon jungle.  This pirogue or boat was used by the Lancondon
and is on display at NaBalom which I will write about in another post.  The people who lived at Na Balom, Trudy and Frans, are responsible for the discovery of the Lacondon peoples and saving them from extinction.  Their story and lives are very intertwined with Palenque and the peoples of the jungle. 
 We spent several days in San Cristobal along with visiting the villages of Chamula and Zinacantan along with some going to the village of Amantenango del Valle, which I visited many years ago.  The photo above
was taken in Chiapa de Corzo, altitude 420 meters, which was our last stop before heading home.  This was the view outside the room.  The gardens at the hotel were extraordinary.  A post about our adventures there will be forthcoming.
The final photo is of the  Sumidero Canyon.  It is hard to explain to someone that they are going to get in a boat and eventually come to this spectacular canyon.  Some did not go.  It was sad that they missed one
of the most spectacular sights of nature in Mexico.  When I tell you about our adventure on this river, you
will have a chuckle.

For me it was an arduous trip this time.  The various elevations along with lots of walking caused me to
realize that my days of being an intrepid traveler may be slowing down.  It certainly was a beautiful way
to end this chapter of travel, to put it mildly.

IF you ever get a chance to go to Chiapas, GO!  As I tell you some of the intimate details of our adventures, you'll get more of the flavor of this area.  A place like no other.



Lynne (WinnieViews) said...

Gorgeous! You hit all my bucket list locations in Chiapas. I so wish I'd been able to get there this past winter. Did you go there with a San Miguel tour group?

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Amazing beauty! Looking forward to the next installment... Hello to all our friends in San Miguell.

Babs said...

Yes, Lynne - Los Vagabundos, David Rico Olalde. I HIGHLY recommend traveling with them. Relatively inexpensive and all details taken care of. David is a gem as well and our guide, Patricio, who was born in Chiapas, but educated at Berkley! in archaeology is one of the most knowledgeable guides that I have ever had the privilege to travel with.......

Indeed Pater - the beauty is breathtaking. It seems some of our group is gone now and I haven't been to coffee in a month! Hope to see them next Monday....will pass on
your greetings.

Unknown said...

You're like the legendary Cummins Turbo engine; at 100K miles, it's just getting broken in.

lauriec said...

lovely- will look forward to next post - we are heading off on the same tour with Los Vagabundos- in 3/27 - glad to hear you enjoyed so much!

Retired Teacher said...

I very much enjoyed reading about your trip to Chiapas and I look forward to more posts about it. I went to San Cristobal and the surrounding villages many years ago (the summer before the Zapatista rebellion). It was like another world... so different from the rest of Mexico.

Years later I went to Palenque, one of the most beautiful Mayan ruins. We visited Misol Ha. In fact, as I write this, I am looking at a painting which I did of the waterfalls. We also took an arduous day excursion to the isolated ruins of Bonampak and Yaxchilan in the Lacandon jungle. That involved a boat trip down the Usumacinta River since there is no road to Yaxchilan.

Glad that you had a wonderful trip!

Babs said...

Ha ha ha, Small Potatoes! I think this Turbo Engine has lost some of its parts and
is about to be put out to pasture.......

Lauriec - You are in for a great treat! Enjoy

Bill - I'm so glad you were there in 93 before the uprising. I'm sure it was even more spectacular then. In fact, our guide, Patricio, said that the Italian and French expats came to Chiapas in 94 after the uprising. Prior to that there was very little westernization.

I had hoped to go to Bonampak and Yaxchilan by boat, but, there just wasn't time on such a tight schedule. I had also wanted to go to see the grandson of the great tribal leader who I met eight years ago, but again, time did not permit. I think my "arduous" days might be over - unless I get my knees replaced!