My first morning in Tuxtla, Tio Milton was back bright and early to take Valeria and I to los miradores del Cañón del Sumidero, a winding road up the mountain with glorious views of the canyon below. This area is linked to the Chiapa people, who occupied the Central Valley area before the arrival of the Spanish. Their main settlement was in Chiapa de Corzo near the canyon, with a fortified area higher up for protection from invasions. The Chiapa fiercely resisted Spanish conquest for years, with their last refuge in the fortified area, now known as the archeological site of the Ruins of Berlin. When the Spanish took over the main city in 1528, the Chiapa still retained their stronghold until 1535. Legend has it that when this last fortification fell, the remaining Chiapa committed collective suicide by jumping into the canyon. Since then, the canyon has served as a boundary marker between the Zoque and Tzotzil peoples.
We then passed a relaxing afternoon wandering the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas (whose name in the Tzotzil and Tzeltal languages is Jovel, or “the place in the clouds”), visiting churches dating from 1528 and admiring Valeria’s haggling skills with the feria artists.
For lunch, Milton treated us at Los Jardines de San Cristobal, a sprawling restaurant renowned for el buffet that gave me a chance to sample all Tuxtla’s favourite comidas: la sopa de chipilín, el cochito adobado, pollo con mole, platanos fritos, dulces de calabaza. To drink: el tascalate, a mix of corn, cocoa, achiote, cinnamon, and sugar (that I am slightly addicted to).
The following weekend, Valeria and I returned to el Cañón, but this time, from abajo (below)! In the 39°C weather, Valeria and I and the other SCOPE students attempted to stay cool (ha!) by guzzling Chiapa de Corzo’s renowned pozol, an indigenous chiapeneco drink made from ground roasted white corn that is then mixed by hand with water, cocoa, and pochotl:
We then rented a boat and spent the day exploring Chiapa de Corzo and el río Grijalva, keeping our hands safely inside the boat as we snapped photos of some of Grijalva’s more intimidating residents…