We will visit:
- The Maya and Cacao in Comalcalco
- The Great Empire of Palenque
- The Murals of Bonampak and Lintels of Yaxchilan
- San Cristobal and Highland Maya Communities
- The Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa del Corzo.
Day 1: Arrive, Villahermosa, pick up at airport, transfer to Hotel Cencali and enjoy a welcome dinner at Los Tulipanes.
Day 2: Our morning starts with a journey to Comalcalco, the heart of cacao growing in Mexico. By visiting the ancient Maya site at Comalcalco, the only pyramid built with bricks, combined with a visit to the adjacent cacao plantation, we will learn of the importance and use of cacao in early Maya ceremony. In the afternoon, we visit one of the region's greatest cultural collections: Museo Parque La Venta, where over 30 colossal basalt heads and other sculptures were moved from the original Olmec city in the late 1950’s, when oil exploration was growing. A writer and poet by the name of Carlos Pellicer Camara recommended these Olmec treasures be moved and safeguarded in a location away from the oil drilling. His advice was heeded, and thus the cultural treasure, Museo Parque La Venta was born.
Day 3: Today, is dedicated to our on-site visit of Palenque to learn how life and society was organized during the Pre-Classic Classic Period of Maya civilization. Palenque is one of the largest and most distinct Maya sites with a proliferation of sculptures and glyph inscriptions. Historians and anthropologists continue to decipher and document their findings at this site, as archaeologist Alfonso Morales, will demonstrate.
Day 4: Our day begins with a guided visit to see the famous murals at Bonampak, depicting Classic era court life of the Maya. Alfonso will lead us through the spectacular representations of the dress, civil, religious and military life of the Classic Maya. We continue our exploration by visiting the sprawling Maya site, Yaxchilan. This river front early Mesoamerican center, is known for its fine examples of Mayan carvings and inscriptions on the lintels.
Day 5: Today, we say good-by to the Lowlands and begin our trek into the Chiapas Highlands, known for its light air and brilliant sun, at almost 7,000 feet. En route, we stop in Ocosingo, to visit the hill-top Maya ruins of Tonina. Given its location, Tonina is less known, but is in fact one of the most spectacular Mayan sites, given its hilltop setting and distinctive monumental style. We continue on our journey towards San Cristobal, where we check into our centrally located hotel and begin to get our first impressions of this colonial city named after Bartolome de las Casas, the first Bishop of Chiapas, who was known as the “conscience of the conquest”, given his tireless campaigns to put an end to the conquest methods used by the Spanish. He spent his life helping indigenous communities and to being a voice of conscience to the Spanish monarchy to put an end to their non civil, civilization of the New World. Dinner in San Cristobal. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6: Today we get to know this high altitude colonial city, founded by the Spanish in the 1530s. We take a guided, orientation walking tour of San Cristobal, where we visit the Santo Domingo Church and surrounding market, textile cooperatives and select shops, the Zocalo, and the Sergio Castro Museum of Regional Dress. Evening free to explore the bohemian atmosphere in San Cristobal. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Today we trek into the highlands to visit the Maya community of Amatenango, where we will pay visit to the home of master potters, Albertina and Mari. They will show us how they make pottery from local clay fired on open fires, which is the same way it has been done since pre-Hispanic times. Upon return to San Cristobal, we have a free evening to explore in San Cristobal or sit in a local café. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 8: We venture into the villages, of Zinacantan and Chamula, highland communities of Tzotzil speaking Maya. In Zinacantan, flowers are seen everywhere, from the cultivation of geraniums, carnations and mums, to the bright embroidered flowers on the blue huipil (a type of cape) worn by the women and the red one, worn by the men. Daily life in this cheerful village centers on weaving and textile traditions for the women, and tending to religious and civic affairs, for the men. Not far in distance, but very different in mood and feel, we travel to the highland village of Chamula to learn more of this Tzotzil speaking Maya community. Entering the church, we leave the world we know and enter into a surreal, mystical place where eggs, coca cola and posh (sugar cane based firewater) co-mingle in a religious ceremony dedicated to healing the infirm and driving out evil spirits. We leave this place changed, as we recognize that not far from us live people who have a very different cosmology and world view than our own. Together, they dedicated their lives to the study and preservation of the Lacandon forest, people and culture. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: After breakfast we transfer to Chiapa del Corzo, followed by a boat journey to get our first breathtaking view of the massive Sumidero Canyon gorge, a dramatic rift caused by a seismic fault in the earth’s surface. The Grijalva river runs between the massive walls that are over 3,000 feet high and as we travel through the canyon walls we are engulfed in this dramatic geological phenomenon. Returning to town, we relax and swim in our hotel pool, then set out for a lovely guided tour of the small but architecturally rich town. Farewell dinner at La Ceiba. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Departure. Depart for airport, Tuxtla Gutierrez.
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