We leave Oaxaca region for Chiapas one.
The state has a frontier with Guatemala, and it is here where we meet the traditional costumes, the colored skirts and the embroidered shirts that we loved so much in Guatemala.
Chiapas is a particular state of Mexico because it is one of the richest in natural ressources but at the same time it host one of the poorest population of the country, mostly maya indians. Based on this paradox, the state as known some revolutionary mouvements: Chiapas is also famous for its Zapatista movement. Indeed, starting 1994, indians from this area gathered to defend their rights, led by Subcomandante Marcos. The name “Zapatisto” has been taken from the revolutionary mexican Emiliano Zapata who conducted the mexican revolution during the 1910’s.
Today the Zapatista movement seems to forget weapons and violence, but inequalities remain, compared to the rest of the country.
It is with that story in mind that we reach our first goal: the Sumidero canyon.
El cañon del Sumidero
Few kilometers from Tuxtla, we arrive in the small town of Chiapa de Corzo. From there, we go to the river and we board a boat for an upstream cruise on Grijalva river until Chicoasen dam. Close encounter with a nice crocodile and few black vultures. The landscape is stunning and the sun rays play hide and seek above the cliffs.
We take the road back to San Cristobal de las Casas.
San Cristóbal de las Casas
The most famous city in Chiapas, but if it is not its official capital, it remains the historical and cultural one. Full of colors, smells and effervescence, this city has all the qualities for us to fall in love!
We first discover it at night, then during all the day after.
Then this is a disaster. A small one, but one we prefer to avoid when traveling. Yes, we meet Mr Turista. And yes again, both at the same time. This is like that when you are in love. We discover new sides of the other. Then of oursleves. During 3 days. It is kind of long. Anyway.
We now say goodbye to San Cristobal and campground’s bathroom then we go back on the road with the energy of a narcoleptic sloth.
San Juan Chamula
From San Cristobal de las Casas we decide to visit the village of San Juan Chamula, where a lot of tzotzils live. We miss the market day but still want to see the church. The tzotzils have kept a lot of mayans customs and even with the presence of christianism, the service is a mix between christian and mayan traditions. The ground is covered with thorns and during the prayers, people put candles directly on the floor. Pictures are prohibited but the church lighted with the only light of the candles, the smell of incense and the whisper of the prayers create such a particular atmosphere that we are happy we came.
We go back on the road and meet the quebecois couple we met in San Miguel, then in Guanajuato, then on the coast… and we decide to lead to Palenque together.
The road between San Cristobal and Palenque is known for its frequent roadblocks: some young people set on the road some trunks or boards full of nails and ask for a “tax” to the drivers. We were aware of it, we already heard about it. So when we see a line on the road and a group of people, we quickly understand. Our brains are still working, good news…
They ask us 200 pesos per car, so around 10 euros each. We refuse. We negociate. They refuse. Excepted that we block the road with our Tikal. Everybody is confused… So finaly we propose a price for the group, 2 cars: 150 pesos. Then we go. We maybe could pay less if we waited longer, anyway.
We lead to Agua Azul and Misol-Ha waterfalls.
Agua Azul and Misol-Ha waterfalls
Agua Azul waterfalls is a very famous spot for travelers between San Cristobal and Palenque. So there is a lot of people. We decide to sleep on site and enjoy the deserted place during the evening and the morning after.
After a morning walk in Agua Azul, we take the road back to Palenque. Small stop to Misol-Ha then we go back in the truck to the mayan site.
We quickly lunch then go to visit the site.
Palenque is one of the most important mayan cities and probably one of the most impressive. The site is very wide and only a small part of the buildings has been escavated, the rest still remains under the jungle. And yes, it is a specificity that distinguish Palenque from the other sites we visited so far: here all the buildings are in the middle of the jungle. The atmosphere is hot and humid. And the hawling monkeys are here.
We find a cheap campground at 60 pesos (the less expensif we found on our trip) and after a night spent with a french-irish couple and few monkeys, we take the road back. Destination other ruins, this time more isolated: Calakmul.