Say good-bye to San Cristóbal de las Casas. And hello to Palenque.
I will miss San Cristóbal. The weather was refreshingly cool. But the grand Maya city of Palenque is why I came on this trip. We arrived at our Palenque hotel late on Wednesday night -- and I have seen nothing yet.
But the six hour bus trip to the lowlands was filled with plenty of sights.
I read statistics about the poverty of Chiapas. How it is the poorest of the poor among the Mexican states. But the trip down the mountains did not look like a land of poverty.
There were plenty of farms along the way. Not all of them German-neat like the enclosed pastures in the title photograph. But the local farmers appeared to be industrious. And quite content in a way that economists cannot seem to understand. Wars on poverty often turn out to be wars on rural sensibilities.
A major downside to bus travel is that it often raises far more questions than it answers. We saw many homes along the road with beans drying on concrete pads. But I do not know what type. I suspect some were coffee beans. But what are the darker beans?
And what type of flowering tree is this? The red blossoms were blooming at every altitude in Chiapas.
One constant was the scenery. Chiapas must be one of the greenest and most beautiful of the Mexican states. That reputation is helped by the amount of rain that falls in the area. And the resultant river flow.
We first stopped at Agua Azul -- blue water. A park designed to set off the beauty of its 500 waterfalls. Some small. Some grand.
But each cascade offers the viewer an opportunity to sit and contemplate. There is something meditative about the sound of rushing water.
In addition to waterfalls, the park contains a series of aquamarine pools that invite hot and weary travelers to take a quick dip.
Just as this father and son are doing. Watching the dad teach his boy to swim brought back some fond memories of my own childhood at the apple orchard in Powers.
I love the symbolism of a strong father simultaneously protecting his child while teaching a new skill.
After two hours at Agua Azul, we drove over to a much higher (if less contemplative) waterfall -- Miso-Ha. 100 feet of tumbling water. With a calm pool at its base perfect for swimming.
The waterfall has another feature for the intrepid. A trail leads behind the water to a small grotto.
The Maya believed that the colors green and blue are the same color. Green is the color of life. Creation. The earth may be green and the sky blue, but they are the same to the Maya.
That may be why these waterfalls seem so magical. With their mixture of blue and green. Is it any coincidence that the greatest symbol of creation -- honeymoons -- were traditionally celebrated in places like Niagara Falls? We may not be as far from our primitive roots as we think.
Later today we will visit one of those roots. The ruins of the great city of Palenque.
And the lessons it can teach us in our modern world.
But I have one last question for you. Does anyone know the name for this bird? ("Moon bird" will get no points as an answer.) We saw it at Miso-Ha. What I really wanted to do, though, is share the image. I think it is rather cool.