Mar 20, 2010, 1:41 PM
Post #1 of 5
We had to return to Tapachula shortly after our first trip to the Soconusco Coast a couple of weeks ago since we had experienced car failure down there because of a minor accident and the parts needed to repair the car were delayed in arriving so we felt it prudent to return to San Cristóbal pending receipt of those parts by the taller charged with repairing our vehicle. Once we got back to San Cristóbal we were further delayed in returning to Tapachula by bouts of salmonella poisoning and amoebas simultaneously
contracted by both of us from foolishly dining in a rural rustic restaurant on the slopes of the Tacaná Volcano near the mountainside town of Union Juarez. We had only ourselves to blame for the food poisoning as we knew better than to eat there but, what the hell.
There are two ways to get from San Cristóbal de Las Casas by first class bus to Tapachula, which is Chiapas´ second largest city with a population of about 300,000. One can take the OCC Line via Comitan and Motozintla which route is quite mountainous in areas if also quite scenic and takes about seven hours or one can take the OCC Line down the mountain to Tuxtla Gutierrez and take the luxury ADO GL express bus from there to Tapachula via Tonalá and Highway 200 near the coast. The latter bus trip takes about five hours altogether including the leg from San Cristóbal to Tuxtla. The express bus from Tuxtla is a comfortable and much shorter ride and is also scenic plunging down through the mountainous Sepultura Biosphere Reserve to Tonalá and then passing
through the foothills and coastal plain of the Soconusco Coast but well inland away from the sea. With our senior card discounts, we were able to enjoy this luxury bus ride for a total price of under $400Pesos. A hell of a deal.
We arrived in Tapachula after nightfall and took a taxi to the Hotel Mexicana downtown near the city´s principal plaza. We can recommend this hotel which cost us about $780Pesos for two including tax and is a unique and fun place with a very accomodating staff. For dinner, we walked the few blocks to the principal plaza where we ate great tacos on the plaza at the locally famous Los Comales Restaurant whiich is a must-visit for any serious visitor to Tapachula, a city that dubs itself "The Pearl of the Soconusco". Tapachula´s principal plaza is the very essence of steamy tropical decadence and a great place to dine on Chiapanecan food and cold beer while enjoying the inevitable marimba orchestra serenading the plaza nightly. This place not only serves good food in a great tropical atmosphere but the characters frequenting this plaza are reminiscent of those characters one would spot in a like setting from Marseilles to Tangiers. Keep in mind that Tapachula is a border city just a few kilometers from Guatemala and border/port cities the world over attract a seedy lot which is a big part of their charm.
This isolated part of Southern Mexico has much to offer although, I can´t say that the steamy tropical climate of Tapachula attracts either of us as a place to live full time. The city itself is a fascinating blend of greenery and wealthy and seedy neighborhoods but it lacks in-town tourist attractions of note. However, the city´s environs offer beautiful scenery from the spectacular Tacaná Volcano and nearby Ruta de Cafe to the Pacific beaches to the south and west all the way to the Oaxaca State line. One of the blessings of the Pacific coastal region from Tapachula to the Oaxaca state line is its isolation and the fact that the coast is a very sparsley populated region of beautiful beaches, primitive fishing villages, mangrove swamps and countless lagoons offering fishing and boating activities. Since the main highway linking the Oaxaca Coast to the Guatemala Coast is an inland road, the only way to really explore this coast is to take the time to visit and explore the many side roads that lead to beaches and beachside villages. Well worth the effort and, if you explore this region during the work week you´ll have it pretty much to yourself.
(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Mar 20, 2010, 3:00 PM)