Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas, Mexico, March 4, 2018

My tour started at 7 from Parque Central.  It was an hour and a half earlier than usual because they had a marathon starting at 7 and we had to get out of the city before the roads were blocked.

Real de Guadeloupe is pretty quiet at this time of the morning-

I met 2 couples in my shuttle from Regina.  One couple owns a condo in La Crucecita which is in the Hualtuco area.  We had a good day visiting Sumidero Canyon, 3 miradors and Chiapa de Corzo.  Our first stop was at the lancha dock close to Chiapa de Corzo.  They wash the life jackets in the filthy Grijalva River-

The Sumidero Canyon was formed at the same time as the Grand Canyon.  A crack started in the crust of the earth and erosion made this 1000 meter deep (in some places) spectacle.  The river is 13 km long-

The trees form a low to medium height deciduous rainforest with a few pine and oak growing here and there-

It is home to spider monkeys like this one.  Another monkey followed us along the bank and came really close, then pooped!  This one was a little nicer.  One of the people in the boat brought a banana for him/her.  He/She devoured it and did not try to poop on us-

I only saw a couple blue herons.  This one is sitting in a pile of garbage-

Tuxtla Gutierrez is the closest city and it's about 600,000 people.  It and the logging industry have caused serious pollution problems.  Close to 5000 tons of solid waste is removed from the Grijalva River every year.  The garbage builds up in the canyon because it's so narrow and the Chicoasien Dam also prevents it flowing downstream and becoming someone else's problem-

The Cave of Colors is truly colorful, thanks to magnesium, potassium and other minerals.  The Virgin of Guadalupe lives inside-

During the rainy season, there are a lot of waterfalls.  The best is the "Arbol de Navidad".  The 'branches' of the arbol are made by mineral deposits from the waterfall and in the dry season they are covered in moss-

The Chicoasen Dam and Reservoir are at the north end of the canyon-

When we reached the farthest north we could go, a lancha tied itself to us and sold beer, water, chips and pop-

About 35 people can fit in a lancha.  It's well designed because it can go really fast and we don't get wet from the spray.  It's also very stable-

We went to three different miradors, the last one being 1000 m high.  The views were great-

A working donkey-

Parasites are growing on trees.  They're pretty but dangerous to the health of the host-

Tuxtla Gutierrez fills the valley.  It's got a WalMart, Sam's Club and even a Liverpool.  We didn't have time to stop and shop-

In Chiapa de Corzo we stopped at the main square to see La Pila fountain.  It was built in 1562 in Moorish style.  It's made of bricks that form a diamond and is 52 meters in circumference and 12 meters high.  There are 8 arches and a cylindrical tower that was used as a watchtower-

Legends say the town was built around this gigantic La Pochota kapok tree.  They've built a special arched sidewalk so the roots have room to go underneath!

The square is lined with arched buildings-

where lots of dulces are sold-

as well as pozol.  It's a cold drink made from corn, cacao and cinnamon that was really good-

This mujer stands at the entrance to the town in traditional dress-

The corn has just been harvested.  It is all done manually-

The state of Chiapas-

I wanted to try pozole, which is a soup, at El Caldero, a restaurant famous for this.  When I got there, the place was packed but there was a man sitting at a booth by himself.  I asked if I could join him and he invited me to sit down.  He's from Avignon, France and it was a funny conversation because both of us talked in English, Spanish and French, sometimes in the same sentence.  He's an artist and here working with amber.  He tries to stay away from Avignon in the winter because it's so cold so he's spent a lot of time in different parts of Mexico.  He too ordered soup and the appetizers that came were so good.  It was all too spicy for him so I ate just about all of it.  There were frijoles, and then three different salsas with homemade nachos-

Pozole is soup, either red, white or green.  It comes with pork or chicken or both.  Red pozole, which I had also has salsa de chile but thank goodness it wasn't too hot.  I put the sliced radishes, minced onion and shredded cabbage in with the broth.  It wasn't my favorite, but I only like soup on cold winter days and it certainly is not that today-

After my early supper, I came back to the hostel and changed rooms because tonight there is supposed to be a big party across the street that won't stop until 5 in the morning.  Hopefully it will be quieter where I am now but I've set my alarm for 3:30 anyway.  The shuttle is supposed to come around 4 to pick me up to go to Palenque.  We won't be back until 10 tomorrow night.  Also, one of the men I met today from Regina said he counted close to 200 speed bumps in about 20 km.  That makes for really slow going.  I'm not looking forward to tomorrow!

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