Journey Mexico’s Dalia Cruz goes on an exciting adventure in Chiapas, a Mexican state in the very south of the country, to meet local communities, explore traditional villages, and visit ancient archeological sites. Here she tells us what she discovered and the lessons she learned…
I found Chiapas full of marvels; its magical history still alive. Traveling around its famous city of San Cristobal de las Casas, I saw and met communities unwilling to let their ancient traditions, culture, and customs die. Men, women, and children are rejecting the modern trends of throwaway fashion, fast food, and prefab architecture.
They maintain their traditional clothing; women sporting thick braids and wearing brightly embroidered blouses and full skirts, while the men wore crisp linen pants and light straw hats.
As we explored the main plaza (zócalo) and watched the painted church fill with parishioners and artisans, San Cristobal felt genuinely magical. Marimba music filled the plaza, while artisans, who had traveled in from the surrounding towns, set up ground cloths to display their handmade goods to the city dwellers leaving church.
After exploring San Cristobal, we journeyed to the surrounding villages where the paved roads end but the sky goes on forever, an immense blue backdrop for the adobe houses and green rolling hills.
A stop at the town of Zinacantan brought an exploration of a gorgeous market where the stalls overflow with fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the mountains. Undoubtedly, the bananas we ate from the market were some of the tastiest I’ve had in my life!
We also had the great honor of visiting a local artisan, watching her transform wool taken from her flock of sheep into huipiles, the traditional Chiapan shirt.
In a mixture of broken Spanish and Maya Tzotzil, she explained her life’s work: how she learned the trade from her grandmother and how she is now passing her skills on to her daughter and granddaughter. Hiding behind a timid smile, her granddaughter translated the pieces of the conversation we could not understand with hand gestures and giggles.
My absolute favorite part of traveling through Chiapas was exploring the ancient Maya site of Palenque. We timed our visit for when it was virtually empty and only shared our exploration with the resident howler monkeys and squawking birds.
As our guide took us to the site’s famous pyramid towers over the lush jungle and explained the fascinating rise and fall of B’akaal, its most famous governor, I couldn’t help but imagine the sights and secrets these ruins have witnessed over the centuries.
Now back from Chiapas, I’ve had time to reflect on my adventure and the Chiapan communities that are so proud of their land and history. Their enthusiasm to protect their culture and traditions is contagious – I feel prouder than ever to be Mexican and to share my amazing country with the world.
If Dalia’s adventure has inspired you to explore Chiapas, speak to a Journey Mexico Travel Planner who can organize the perfect vacation for you. To get some inspiration on what you might like to do, check out our 8-day Chiapas Adventure which includes ziplining, waterfalls, and ancient ruins.
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