Everything tagged with #Mexico
I am just finishing up a week trip through Chiapas in Mexico. We attended two very important festivals, one was the "Pocho" dances in Tenosique and the other was "Fat Tuesday" in Chamula. If I don't have a full travelog posted now, I will soon. However, this post is more about my own thoughts and ramblings and is separate from the travelog.
Our flight went from La Guardia in New York, to Mexico City, and then to Villahermosa. We left a lot of time in Mexico City since we had to go through customs. For some reason, we got through customs RIDICULOUSLY quickly and we were left with a long layover in the Mexico City airport. Unfortunately, it's not the best airport to get stuck in. Now that I know it a bit better, I would have found the one upscale area and spent some time shopping. We didn't know better at the time, though, and so we just hung out in the main waiting area. Time seemed to pass at an all-time slow.
We left Palenque today and headed to San CristÃ³bal. Palenque is at an elevation of 80 meters (~260 ft) and San CristÃ³bal is at an elevation of 2160 meters (~7000 ft), so we had a ways to go. And it was, of course, a tiny, winding road. Although we were looking forward to getting out of the warm lowlands and head to more temperate weather in the mountians.
Today was our first "festival" day. We went to a town called Tenosique where they have been having this very bizarre festival for hundreds of years. It's a bit hard to describe. It takes place every Sunday starting in January and ends with lent. A few select people dress up as jaguars - they paint their body orange, use a Coke bottle to make black spots on their skin, and drape an actual jaguar pelt over their back. We got access to where some of those people were preparing to get some good pictures.
I'm going to put all of San CristÃ³bal on hold for a second and talk about what happened the next day because it was one of the most bizarre experiences I've ever encountered. We celebrated "Fat Tuesday" in a small mountain town called San Juan Chamula. Unfortunately, the one experience that is the most difficult to describe is the one place we were absolutely not allowed to take pictures. The locals strongly believe that it steals your soul. There were signs posted as we got to the main square saying "NO PHOTOS ALLOWED AFTER THIS POINT".
We spent two and a half days in San CristÃ³bal. It's a beautiful town to sit back and relax. The people couldn't be nicer and it's a blend of local culture and Western tourism. David and I had a great time just stroliing around the city. It's one of those places that didn't really get good until we exhausted all the major tourist destinations and just wandered around.
Today was our first real touring day, although it started off with a long car drive. We got up relateively early to prepare for the trip. A car was picking us up and taking us to Palenque to visit the ruins. We met two of our group - a young woman named Kelly from Washington D.C. and an older woman named Melanie from Sacramento. We made polite conversation, but it ran out quickly considering we didn't really know each other. It was about 2 and a half hours to Palenque. It was good to adjust oneself to the fact that we were in Mexico. That area was particularly lush and green.
Our hotel in San CristÃ³bal was pretty incredible. We spent three nights at Casa Na Bolom which is a short walk from the center of town. Casa Na Bolom is a cultural center, a restaurant, a museum, a garden, a hotel, and a historical icon. All the rooms are individual and scattered throughout the estate, down hallways, across courtyards, up steps, etc. It's a huge area that I would stroll around and constantly find new little buildings or gardens hidden around a corner.
Aaah. Mexico City. More importantly, The Four Seasons Hotel. Rustic charm is nice, but a private and clean bathroom is a rare thing in a third world country. David and I arrived quite tired and there was a line to check in at the Four Seasons. I overheard some conversation that there was renovation going on during the day on the 6th floor, so I was prepared to not accept a room on the 5th, 6th, or 7th floors. When we got to the front desk, the clerk was taking a very long time to find a room. It was several minutes of watching her type into a keyboard and click her mouse repeatedly.
David and I scheduled to take a tour with Maya Sites (http://www.mayasites.com) through the southern area of Mexico for the fall of 2005. Unfortunately, David took a trip of his own on 23rd street and broke his foot weeks before our vacation. So we postponed that trip and re-scheduled it with the same company for their "Festivals of the Highland Rainforest Maya". And I'm so glad that David broke his foot because this trip that we took instead was amazing!
On our last day in San CristÃ³bal, we decided to get an early start, drive to Chiapa de Corzo, and take a tour of the CaÃ±Ã³n del Sumidero before heading to Tuxtla GutiÃ©rrez. It's a very striking canyon that you tour via speedboats that take you up the river to look at the dam and back. To get there, we took the most harrowing ride of my life.
Today we had an early start. We met at 6:30 to visit all the stops. And it's a good thing, because we had some surprises later on the trip that delayed us for a few hours. We started off with about a 45 minute drive to lunch spot. I forgot to ask for the details of where we were, but looking back at the map now, I think we were at Rio ChancalÃ¡. It was a small tourist stop on the road with excellent homemade breakfasts under a thatched roof. There was a large German tour bus that stopped for breakfast at the same time we did.