Na Bolom was the first item entered on my places-to-visit-in-San-Cristóbal list. Houses that are open to the public are always my favorite things to see and have been few and far between where I’ve visited in Mexico. So I was looking forward to seeing Na Bolom, a pleasant uphill 2 km walk to Vicente Guerrero 33 in Barrio del Cerrillo.
I arrived at the end of a concert that was being held in a room (above) with a small stage, and had to hunt to find someone to pay my entrance fee. As the music ended the audience of maybe a couple of dozen adults and children socialized in the music room and around the patio. It made for a very pleasant ambiance as I made my way around from room to room.
Built in the 19th century as a monastery, in 1950 it was a ruin, bought and rebuilt, then given the name, Na Bolom, which translates as Jaguar House from the local Tzotzil language. It was the home and workplace of World War II resistance fighter, Gertrude Duby, and her husband, Frans Blom. Duby was a Swiss anthropologist and photographer whose particular interest was the Lacandón people of Chiapas, and Blom a Danish archeologist, one of the first to excavate the Mayan site, Palenque. It was in the rain forest of Chiapas where the couple met and joined forces in their personal and professional lives.
Of typical Spanish colonial design around a central courtyard, the house seems to go on and on with additional buildings up the hillside from the original street-facing edifice, all set in a tropical garden. There are guest rooms available around pleasant side patios with meals said to be offered, though not while I was there.
Frans died in 1963 and Trudi continued their work at Na Bolom as an environmentalist on behalf of the indigenous people and rain forests of Chiapas until her death in 1993. In an article about the house on Wikipedia it mentions the foundation’s struggle to keep the work of the couple alive. I urge you to read Na Bolom’s very interesting Wikipedia entry, here, for more detail about the house and the Bloms’ lives and work.
The photo below is one of several worth a detour to the website,
Also visit Na Bolom’s own website, https://www.nabolom.org/.
Find all episodes of 'A Month in Chiapas' here.
More PortMoresby stories here.