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TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

MEXICO

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TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

MEXICO

Nature in Chiapas knows no limits; it overflows in countless animals and plants, in the power of a river, in the roar of a waterfall or the chilling depths of a canyon. The spectacular geography seems to compete with the beauty of its archaeological zones, the cultural richness of its indigenous communities and the elegance of its colonial cities.

An unforgettable adventure, not exempt from magic, taste and colour; an approach to the exuberant nature, or an encounter with the grassroots of the old pre Hispanic cultures, are part of the charms in Chiapas, a state of imposing vegetation and tumultuous rivers located in the south of Mexico, on the limit with Guatemala.

Journeys through the legendary places of Chiapas have its capital, Tuxla Gutierrez, as their perfect starting point. Located 1080 kilometres south of the City of Mexico, it is the centre of the commercial, economic and political activities of the state since 1892.

Tuxla imposes itself in the midst of a fertile valley at 550 metres above sea level, and its history goes back to the pre Hispanic period, when the Zoque Indians settled in this zone, which they gave the name of Coyatoc (place or land of rabbits).

Later the Aztecs would show up (between 1486 and 1505), and they would call it by the same name, though using the word Tochtlán, its equivalent in the Nahuátl language. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors the name would be twisted into a new word: Tuxtla.

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  • The added Gutierrez was imposed in 1848 to pay homage to Joaquin Miguel Gutierrez, a connoted and renowned federalist.

    In spite of its potential wealth (large farming areas, oil fields, and rivers that generate more than half of the electric power the country consumes), Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico, especially in rural areas inhabited by indigenous groups.

    Dispossessed of their own lands and postponed due to a series of political and economic inequalities, the indigenous populations rose in arms on January the 1st of 1994, under the name of Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), led by sub commander Marcos, a man of unknown identity who revealed to the world the problems of Chiapas.

    The EZLN won the sympathy of many social sectors in Mexico with their preach of peace, justice and dignity for the natives, and also the wrath of many others, which originated the repression of the movement by paramilitary groups. Later the Zapatistas would engage in negotiations with the government; currently the situation is settled and travellers will be able to go across the state with no problem whatsoever.

    Beyond the social conflicts, Chiapas allows globetrotters to rejoice with its diversity of flora and fauna, which is concentrated in the Miguel Alvarez del Toro Zoo, a piece of mountain that houses exclusively species of the region, many of which live in open spaces.

    Natural ponds, forests afar from pollution and dazzling landscapes, configure the tourist agenda in Chiapas, which has the Sumidero (Drain) Canyon National Park, a spectacular and chilling geological fault 25 kilometres long, on whose surroundings inhabit crocodiles, jaguars, pumas, spider monkeys and a great variety of birds, as its crown jewel.

    And if you want to flee the explosive nature of the canyon, there is nothing like Chiapa de Corzo, a charming town that keeps millenarian Mayan treasures, or San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city of narrow streets and ancient airs, with exquisite colonial churches that still host the faith of the locals.

    Another alternative of historical shades is the archaeological compound of Palenque, one of the most amazing in the country. Its notable constructions transport us to a world that tastes like mystery and sultry earth, and its walls, especially those at the Temple of the Inscriptions, make evident part of the wisdom of the wonderful Mayan people.

    Equally attractive is the great pyramid called The Palace, adorned with patios, passageways and tunnels, besides a fabulous 4-storey tower that worked as an observatory.

    Different native groups who keep their customs and traditions coexist in these warm lands. It is moving to see the natives from Chamula with their loose white woollen robes (only religious authorities use black robes), which their ancestors called huipiles, or to watch the lengthy stripes hanging from the hats of the bachelor men of Zinacatán.

    Do you need more reasons to visit Chiapas? We believe not; just pack your luggage and let yourself be seduced by the overflowing nature, the archaeological richness left by the Mayas, and the spirit of solidarity amongst the indigenous peoples.
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