A Day in Puerto Chiapas
My third stop in Mexico was Puerto Chiapas.
Formerly known as Puerto Madero, and before that Puerto de San Benito,Puerto Chiapas is an important commercial port in the state of Chiapas. Built in 1975 the Port was originally used as a shipping terminal for the area’s agricultural produce and, of course, to promote tourism to the Soconusco region.
The port and town of Puerto Chiapas leaves a lot to be desired, so Ryan and I, along with one of the talented on-board entertainers went out to haggle with the local taxi drivers to find someone willing to take us around the more interesting sights for the day.
Our first stop was the Izapa Mayan ruins. Although these ruins are quite small as far as Mayan ruins go it was my first time seeing anything Mayan so I was pretty stoked.
The Izapa ruin site is situated on the Izapa River near the base of the Tacana volcano, the fourth largest mountain in Mexico. This historic site was occupied during the Late Formative period.
The settlement at Izapa once extended over 1.4 miles, and was the largest site in Chiapas. The area around Izapa was a major cacao producing area known as the Soconusco region, which was used by the Aztecs.
What remains in the Izapa site today is a number of pyramids, sculptured plazas and squares, and two ball courts. Like many Mesoamerican sites, Izapa is laid out just east of true north, it is aligned with the volcano Tacana and also seems to be situated to the December solstice horizon.
Izapa is also a controversial site as it is a major piece of evidence in the debate of the origin of the 260-day calendar. The calendar that was originally thought to be a Maya invention has recently been hypothesized to have originated in Izapa. This is certainly supported by the fact that Izapa fits the geological and historical conditions better than the previous location that was claimed to be the origin.
We spent a while appreciating the ancient architecture and the small Mexican child enjoying her pepsi a bit too much we headed onwards see the ‘Tree of Life’ another site that is home to some ancient Mayan artefacts and an iconic-looking tree – with a brief stop in a smaller town nearby to stroll through some local markets. We tasted some local cacao and then headed to the bigger city of Tapachula.
We started our afternoon in town in the central square of Tapachula, Parque Hidalgo, which was buzzing with locals doing everything from playing music to shining shoes – but mostly just relaxing under some of the shady trees.
We explored the towns market and few local stores before heading somewhere for lunch (with a brief police encounter as they assumed our friendly taxi driver was a stranger stalking us through town).
Along with our very cool taxi driver who was not in fact stalking us but guiding us around the city we sat at a table in a very local eatery where my friends ordered some simple Mexican delights (I was too thirsty from the crazy Mexican heat to be too interested at food at that moment.
We then continued to walk around town. Ryan was in pursuit of some local shirts and I was in pursuit of some local photographically pleasing scenes.
Ryan successfully found some shirts and I successfully found the shopkeepers child who was quiet keen to model for me while we waited for Ryan to finish his shopping spree.
It was a hot afternoon and after strolling around town and browsing through some stores we were all quiet exhausted. We started to head back to the port.
Knowing that we had a little time up our sleeve we stopped for a ‘cervesa’ as one of the local roadside bars.
The place looked dingy but served some of the best Mexican drinking snacks we had all tasted.
It was the perfect way to end my last day in Mexico… For now.