Search of Mayan Ruins In Chiapas, Mexico
The second of two parts
By JOHN M. DERBY
March 8, 2018
Prices in the Mexican state of Chiapas are very cheap in
comparison to the rest of Mexico, and in fact, compared
to world travel in general. Taxis are about 3 dollars for
anywhere in town, or for the “collectivo” bus,
the cost is about 50 cents.
of the special dishes in Chiapas is a regional “mole,”
and it can come in a dozen different flavors and colors.
It is made with a large assortment of ingredients, including
chili peppers and chocolate.
than in the air terminals, there are no American style restaurants.
Food is good and plentiful. Grand markets are held in every
city, and they are full of every food imaginable …
Everything is fresh.
first two nights stay was at a nice hotel in the center
of Tuxtla Gutierrez (the capital of the state), and the
place was called Del Carmen. The rates started at $25 a
night. The room was clean, with air conditioning, but not
as large as we are used to in the States. There was a restaurant
in the hotel which served breakfast at a nominal fee.
we enjoyed Tuxtla and the music in the central park (to
which adults dance the Tango) our time plan did not leave
much room for exploring the city. One very impressive visit
was to the Botanical Gardens, dating back 100 years and
with free entry. We also had to tour the Grand Market, and
loved the sound of the marimba band which preformed at the
chose to hire a taxi to take us to San Cristabol, the second
largest city in Chiapas. The cost was only about $45 for
60-mile ride almost straight up the side of a mountain.
San Cristabol is 7,000 feet above sea level, and the average
temperature is about 10 degrees lower than Tuxtla.
hotel was slightly more expensive at $40 a night, but the
Hotel Don Juan had much more character. Being a former residence
that was only transformed into a hotel over the last four
years, our room was huge, and the king size bed could have
been used for a soccer field.
made San Cristabol our headquarters for branching out to
other cities. Some of these were day trips like the one
to Comitan, and the ruins at Tenam, or in the case of Palenque,
we stayed for three days just to take in all the sights.
visits included a trip to the Amber Museum located in the
Monastery of the Merced monks. Amber is mined in this area
of Mexico, and although it is not a mineral, it is a sap
from trees which has hardened over a million years and is
considered one of the most precious “stones”
trip to the Jade Museum, and its replicas of the ceremonial
artifacts found in most of the Mayan ruins in MesoAmerica,
was a must because it also housed a replica of the burial
tomb of King Pakal.
our estimation these ruins rate with those in Egypt and
the tomb of King Tut, however, they have never received
the kind of recognition they deserve.
story of the Mayan people is still being told because it
has taken so long to translate the language and to provide
access to these ruins and their history.
have still not uncovered most of the ruins and there are
many questions unanswered. For instance where did these
people come from originally? Was there any connection with
the ancient civilizations of Africa and the Middle East?
Why are there similar pyramids and even burial chambers?
has been in Chiapas for 500 years
group of monks left Guatamala in the mid 1500s to form a
new monastery north in Chiapas, where the town of San Cristabol
were called Mercedarians, and they were something like a
warrior monk as the Monastery they built was like a fortress
which could be defended if necessary.
monastery servered as the home for the monks for several
hundred years and it is not known why it later became a
military garrison and a convent, however, it saw many uses
and with each use the buildings declined.
the past century it was used as a prison and became so run
down that it was falling apart. Then a group of local residents
formed a society for the preservation of the Merced Monastery,
and tried to get government help to restore it as a historic
little help was available so the society had to raise its
own money and provide its own labor to restore the buildings
little by little. The Merced Monastery is now in its latest
phase of restoration, and when completed, will be almost
as good as when it was originally built. Not all of the
buildings are part of the original monastery.
Merced Monastery serves as the home for the Amber Museum,
a collection of the most precious of all stones found in
Chiapas. These are not mineral but originally came from
the sap of trees and over millions of years solidified often
with insects as part of the stone.
is one of the three or four places in the world where these
precious stones are still mined, and the collection at San
Cristabol is one of the finest in the world.
Amber Museum in connection with the historic Merced Monastery
makes this a special place to visit while in Chiapas.