Last Stop, Chiapa de Corzo

 

We all have our planning styles, from as little as possible to every possible moment. My approach tends to be plan the logistics carefully and the rest goes on a list that may or may not be used much, leaving me with almost every day to proceed as the spirit moves me. Moving from place to place falls into the “logistics” category but all movement is subject to change any time a better idea comes along.

San Cristóbal is just over an hour’s drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez airport and since I didn’t have an early flight, always the goal whenever possible, the original plan was just to take a leisurely late morning taxi. However, knowing southern Mexico is subject to political actions in the form of roadblocks, teachers in Oaxaca and Zapatistas in Chiapas, I paid attention when my expat American acquaintances at the bookstore mentioned the reason they were late opening that day was, yes, a roadblock outside town.

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Departure was still several days away and after nearly a month in San Cristóbal I decided moving on a day early might be in order, for both roadblock avoidance and the entertainment value. Not far from the airport I could see on the map the town of Chiapa de Corzo, mentioned in Lonely Planet as an “overlooked jewel”. Not too big and situated on a river, it had possibly everything one might need for a very pleasant overnight, especially for being “overlooked.” I asked Leila at my favorite breakfast spot, Sweet Beat, and did she know a place there to stay. She told me it was a nice town and, in fact, her husband’s cousin owned the nicest hotel there. She said she’d be happy to call them for me. So I was set, with something to look forward to between leaving San Cristobal and flying home. Excellent.

The ride from the airport to San Cristóbal when I’d arrived had been at night so the views from the road, the Pan-American Highway, on the way back down the mountain were new and gave me a much better understanding of the lay of the land. With a drop of nearly 6,000 feet in elevation it also explained the temperature difference between the cool highlands and the tropical warmth on arrival at Hotel La Ceiba, 2 blocks west of the large central plaza and 3 blocks north of the river, the Rio Grijalva.

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The embarcadero in Chiapa de Corzo is the main starting point for motor boats that take visitors up the river to speed between the 800 meter walls of Sumidero Canyon, habitat for the American crocodile, among other species. There’s an archeological site with 3 excavated pyramids 1.5 kilometers from the plaza. And yet another Templo de San Domingo with museums. But my only ambition this day was to spend the afternoon walking, enjoying the crafts sellers along the lane that ran down to the river and a stroll along the embarcadero. I walked back up past the templo, with earthquake damage like most churches I’d seen, then along an arcade on the south side of the plaza.

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A restaurant on the embarcadero,
 and boats for trips through Cañón del Sumidero.

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Crossing the street that divided the arcade from the plaza I was drawn to a large brick structure, called La Pila, built (I read later) in 1562. It didn’t really look old and it wasn’t immediately evident to me what it was though it seemed to work well as a place to enjoy some shade. It’s referred to as a fountain, though the open-sided building dwarfed the actual fountain inside. In any case, it’s unusual and pleasing to see.

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Above, La Pila (1562), the clock tower below (1950s).

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Percussionists in action, above, & below, commemorated.

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After my tour of the town I was ready for an early dinner, so made my way to a recommended restaurant, Jardines de Chiapas. Families were arriving to enjoy the huge buffet, the staff was friendly, I ordered from the menu and enjoyed the ambiance of the garden patio with the music of 2 marimba players completing the atmosphere.

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Walking back to my hotel, an intriguingly named business . . .

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. . . and a venerable Ceiba (kapok) tree, sacred to the Maya.

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La Ceiba Hotel's beautiful jungle-like garden within its walls . . .

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. . . and the restaurant with a never-ending breakfast buffet.

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I spent a leisurely morning at Hotel La Ceiba's buffet breakfast, postponing as long as possible the moment when I’d set out for the airport for my 2:00 flight to Mexico City, then on to Dallas-Ft. Worth. Logistics again, I’d opted to take the slower way home this time, rather than 3 flights in one day with a late-night arrival, and treated myself to an overnight at the DFW Hyatt Regency. I was sorry to be leaving Chiapas but if I had to go I was committed to being kind to myself along the way. So onward in the morning, rested and thinking about next time.

 

 Find all episodes of  'A Month in Chiapas'  here.

 


More PortMoresby stories here.

 

 

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