Monday, March 30, 2009
In between Christmas and New Year’s in Chiapas, I traveled to the neighboring state of Oaxaca for a few days, where I met a dear friend and fellow Fulbrighter Martie. Martie is a working artist who is setting up a print studio in Xalapa, Veracruz. She is one of the sweetest and most inspirational people I have met.
Some of my favorites from the city: all of the lively pedestrian streets, lots of inviting cafés, the view of the city from either of the two churches atop hills on opposite ends of the downtown, the fruit punch (served hot) and candied figs from the market, la Madre Tierra – a great breakfast restaurant with fresh whole-wheat bread (a rarity!)
I spent Christmas and New Year’s with Erika’s family in her grandmother Teresa’s home in San Cris. Everybody in the family welcomed me so sweetly. Between all of the family meals and conversations over coffee and pan dulce, I felt like another granddaughter / niece / cousin, etc. (Chalupas are the colorful dish with beets that Teresa is preparing . . . they are nothing like those at Taco Bell!)
The Cañon del Sumidero is an important place in Chiapa’s history and geography: during the Spanish conquest, a legendary group of indigenous resistors leapt from the top of the canon wall to avoid being captured; the river Grijalva has only been navigable since the 1980s when it was dammed to produce hydroelectricity.
Los Lagos de Montebello form a mysterious chain of more than 70 lakes that vary in depth and color. We only visited several, but it was interesting to note the different shades of blue, green, and gray.
Cascada el Chiflon: the waterfall that dwarfed me!
Agua Azul: my favorite swimming (it was snowing in Portland!)
Misol-Ha: Erika and Abel hiked behind the falls while I swam across the pool beneath them.
Palenque: Mayan ruins in the tropical rainforest of Chiapas
In December I traveled to Chiapas in the South of México with my housemates, Erika and Abel. Their families are both from San Cristóbal de las Casas, one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever visited. Now I know why Chiapas is such a popular tourist destination (especially for liberal European tourists who followed the Zapatista uprising in 1994): it is possibly the most geographically and ethnically diverse state in the Republic. In addition to enjoying the colorful, pedestrian-friendly streets of San Cris, we explored some of the outlying areas, including breathtaking waterfalls and Mayan ruins!