Chiapa de Corzo

One of the great natural attractions of Chiapas if not all of Mexico is the Sumidero Canyon through the Grijalva River and a visit there was on the topSumidero Canyon 2 of our list of things to do on this trip. But rather than take a day excursion from Tuxtla Gutierrez or San Cristóbal de las Casas with a bus-load of other tourists, we decided to spend a night in Chiapa De Corzo so that we could be on the first boat to take the river tour early the next morning.

The easiest and quickest way to get to Chiapa de Corzo (or San Cristóbal de las Casas for that matter) is to take a flight into Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport (TGZ). Non-stop flights are available to and from most major airports in Mexico including Cancún, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Mérida, Oaxaca and Villahermosa on viva_air_bus_TGZ multiple domestic airlines. On this trip we flew the low-cost carrier VivaAerobus from Cancún. It was a comfortable on-time flight on a relatively new A320.

The official transportation desk at Tuxtla Gutierrez is located  just outside the baggage claim area. From that desk you can purchase a fixed price ride in a private taxi, combi or bus to Tuxtla city or San Cristóbal de las Casas or other points.

We hired a cab for the 20 minute ride to Chiapa de Corzo for roughly $18 USD.  It was hard not to notice the smoke in the air resulting from farmers burning off the land in preparation for planting and the scenic views of the countryside as we climbed into the mountains to the plateau location of Chiapa de Corzo.La Pila fountain 1

We arrived at the Hotel La Ceiba late in the afternoon and walked to the central plaza to find a small festival with way too loud techno-crap music blaring away and a good number of local citizens along with a multitude of weaving ladies from nearby villages sitting in the shade with their wares surrounding them. These ladies would typically be walking from tourist to tourist offering textiles for sale but by late afternoon, all the tour buses had already departed leaving us as two of the very few travelers that would be spending the night in the town.

La Pila fountain columnThe central plaza is dominated by the La Pila fountain (shown in the picture above and to the left); a beautiful 16th century open air Moorish-style brick dome with a working fountain in its center.  Impressive from a distance the structure’s beauty is really best appreciated by a close up inspection of the detail on each of the individual bricks.

In addition to the fountain; a small clock tower and an old ceiba tree known as La Pochot can be found on the plaza.  A typical Spanish Colonial colonnade borders the square and serves as a passageway to small convenience stores, a few restaurants and shops selling textiles, pottery and other hand crafts.

Los Sabores de San JacintoThere is an archaeological zone and some other attractions in Chiapa de Corzo like the Iglesia de Santo Domingo in continuous use since its constructiont in 1572 but the reason virtually every  traveler visits Chiapa de Corzo is the Boat tour of Sumidero Canyon.

After returning to the hotel to freshen up we returned to the central plaza for dinner that night at Los Sabores de San Jacinto, one of the very few restaurants in the town that is open in the evening.

pastries - Chiapa de CorzoWe sat at the one table outside of the restaurant looking out onto the central plaza next to the restaurant’s wood-fired grill and enjoyed well-prepared regional specialties and cold Indio Beer.  Just to the right of our table under the colonnade was a lady selling pastries from a large basket.  We sat in amazement as literally every person who walked by stopped and filled a bag of sweets to go.  And the buyers weren’t limited to those strolling down the street.  We saw numerous drivers including policemen park and hop out of their cars to grab a treat.

After witnessing so many locals, we figured it was worth a try so when we finished our meal, we waited our turn and picked out a half dozen pieces; some of which we were familiar with but some others that wpastry vendor - Chiapa de Corzoere new to us as well. When the lady vendor told us we owed the equivalent of less than half of one USD, we assumed we had misunderstood but she confirmed the price and we walked away in wonderment. And the amazing thing was that at that price, the pastries were actually very good in the not-so-sweet Mexican style that we have grown to enjoy.

It was a short walk back to the hotel for an early bedtime so we could get up early for our morning river tour.