The state of Chiapas in southern Mexico is a place like no other. I first had the opportunity to go there in 2006, when my future-husband suggested that I visit it, telling me what an incredible place it was. He knew firsthand just what Chiapas had to offer, having lived and worked there in 2004 and 2005. I didn’t know what to expect at this time, my own research had brought up information from the Zapatista movement, which I found to be awesome and very exciting. But the information available claimed that it was a dangerous place due to the uprising(s); I imagined guerilla-style kidnappings carried out in the jungles of the Lacandon.
My trip there in 2006 was not that dramatic. Chiapas’ mainstream reputation seemed to have been spread by those who knew little about the place, those who had probably never even been there. What I found was an amazing place whose natural beauty and warm people astounded me. When I left, I felt it was too soon.
Desire To Return
Gibran and I decided to go to Chiapas again on our trip down to Costa Rica, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that the rainy season was over, (unfortunately my last trip there had been right after the rains had started, so there was much that I was unable to do). I also wanted to go with Gibran because he knew the region and would be like my own personal tour guide.
We were in Chiapas a mere week, a nice taste, but again, not nearly enough time. We stayed the first two nights in Tuxtla Gutierrez in a hotel downtown, taking advantage of our proximity to the plaza, the movie theater, and some solid restaurants, as well as the insane Cañon del Sumidero. We also went and visited Gibran’s former landlady and her family, and she insisted that we stay with her for any remaining time we stayed in Chiapas. Not only did her and her husband give us their bed for two nights, they also made us many delicious meals and drove us around to show us some sights, (just an example of quintessential Mexican hospitality).
La Sima de las Cotorras
With Gibran’s former colleague/friend and his wife, we went to La Sima de las Cotorras, a huge natural sinkhole in the earth that has become overgrown with jungle at the bottom. Hundreds, if not thousands, of parrots have made this “sima” their home, and every morning and evening like clockwork they fly out or back in, making for an incredible visual experience. We spent the night there, eating the gourmet indigenous cuisine that is served in the communally run restaurant right on the edge of the sinkhole. We also got up at 5am to see the “cotorras” fly up and out the hole at 6am sharp.
San Cristobal de las Casas
We spent two more nights at the infamous “Sancris”, a bohemian-meets-indigenous town in the mountains of Chiapas. This is one of those amazing places where everyone there seems to have the same interests: cultural, political, artistic, even culinary. Each time I’ve gone there, I have had to leave before I was ready because I was at risk of spending all of my money on the beautiful handcrafted art, jewelry, and clothing.
Our last stop in Chiapas was Lagos de Montebello, which borders Guatemala. This series of 59 lakes is a natural phenomenon in itself. The lakes range in size, depth, and color, some being deep green, some mud-colored, and those with high mineral content are bright blue. All surrounded by a Canada-like forest, complete with dark green pine trees and everything.
Definitely Going To Go Back (Again)
We didn’t make it to many of the places I wanted to (re)visit, meaning we will have to go back again (something I am very happy about). We missed the most amazing Mayan ruins of Palenque, the waterfalls of Agua Clara, Agua Azul, and Misol-Ha, as well as many other indigenous communities in the mountains.
Chiapas is definitely in my top 3 favorite states in Mexico. It’s one of the only places in the world that has actually taken my breath away and made me think “holy shmokes”. It’s an area that has something for everyone, and all who visit will leave wanting more.