Sabbatical 2010





We took a week off and visited Comitán, the third largest city in Chiapas. Staying at Hacienda de Los Angeles was a pleasure and the girls especially appreciated the indoor pool. The entrance to Comitán is a beautiful divided highway with beautiful multi-colored bougainvilleas dividing the north/south roads. At red lights street artists juggled and danced, asking for a peso or two from motorvehicles and tour buses. About 45 minutes from the Guatemalan border, Comitán receives a fair amount of traffic.

We arrived in Comitán as a church parade made its way to the 16th century Iglesia de Santo Domingo amidst beautiful flowers and homemade fireworks being fired off. Built next to the town square, the church is an imposing presence. We ate at one of the many restaurants facing the town square and enjoyed Mexican food anew.

With many sites to visit in the area, we had a great time. The staff secured for us the services of Migel-Angel, our private tour guide for two days. With Migel-Angel, we went to The Lakes of Montebello, the ruins of Chinkultic and Tenam Puente, and the waterfall, El Chiflón.

The Lakes of Montebello, or Lagunas/Lagos de Montebello, are a series of lakes and cenotes on the border with Guatemala. Half of the 50 lakes are in Mexico and the other half in Guatemala. We visited (in order of the photos below) Lagos Montebello, Laguna Agua Tinta, Cinco Lagos, Lagos Pajoj, Lago Internaciona, and Dos Cenotes. The history runs deep, with human sacrifices offered by the Mayan people to the southern lake of Dos Cenotes. With rain falling periodically the azure colors of the lakes did not quite show, but it was impressive nonetheless. Migel-Angel took us into Guatamala in the town of Tziscao, and being so remote, there were no border patrol. We bought some trinkets and the girls confused Guatemala and guacamole...

Much rain made a visit to Chilkultic impossible as the river one has to cross within the ruines was in flood. The little we saw impressed us. Besides a meso-american ball-game court (Here--on Youtube) and HERE), there were numerous "mounds"--overgrown pyramids and temples--everywhere. Workers were in the process of clearing some of the mounds.

Still raining, Migel-Angel took us the next day to Tenam Puente and El Chiflón. Tenam Punte is a very impressive Mayan Ruin, covering about 2 square kilometers with three ball-game courts. Built in 600AD and abandoned in 1200AD, Tenam Puente struck me more than Palenque, a site we visited in June. What amazed us the most is that the site is totally non-comercialized. You cannot even buy a t-shirt or anything else for that matter. We shared the ruins with another family and started climbing ancient pyramids and walls. Only in Mexico will you be allowed to walk over ruins and of course there were no guard rails. First "discovered" in 1925 by Franz Blom (See Na-Bolom House on the primary San Cristoval page), many of the ruins remain hidden beneath thick forest with large trees. One of the pyramids remains of religious importance today with rituals taking place at the pyramid where a Mayan cross was placed in modern times. Knowing that the ruins were not even 100y old in terms of discovery truly felt as if we were priviledged. As I said, I enjoyed Tenam Punte more than Palenque, mostly because Palenque felt over-exploited by venders and tour guides.

After Tenam Puente, we left for El Chiflón, a prominent waterfall about 40 minutes from Comitán. We descended down a mountain pass and into tropical Mexico. The same rain that caused Chilkultic to be inaccesible placed El Chiflon in flood. What would have been blue river water became a brown foamy torrent. With sweaty bodies we walked 1.3km up a canyon to be shrowded in mist rain. We could not even see the primary falls. What impressed me the most was the girls who walked uphill in sweltering heat without complaint, only to be drenched upon arrival at the primary falls. Returning to the van with Migel-Angel, the girls did some zip-lining througth the forest canopy for less than $3 (US) a person.

Comitán was an enjoyable stay and the bus-ride from San Cristobal to Comitán ($20US for a family of 4 return) was professionally conducted and trouble-free.

Some images from Comitán, the Lakes of Montebello, the ruins, and El Chiflón.



The girls singing along with an 5-piece band

Lagos de Montebello

We declined the invitation to go "kayaking"


Tenam Puente

El Chiflón (through a mist-covered lens)

Jami zip-lining too fast for my focus