Mexico Connect
Forums  > Areas > Southern Mexico


Hound Dog

Mar 20, 2010, 1:41 PM

Post #1 of 5 (3040 views)

Shortcut

Tapachula and the Soconusco

Can't Post | Private Reply
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)



Zorba

Mar 20, 2010, 2:08 PM

Post #2 of 5 (3025 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Hound Dog] Tapachula and the Soconusco

Can't Post | Private Reply
"...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."

Jesus Christ, I hope it wasnt the place I told you about? I had no problem when I ate there.

Youre right Tapachula is a bloody "sarten" at this time of the year. Forty in the shade. Its way too hot to spend much time in the city. Its true that what is good about it is the area surrounding it. Youve captured the feel of the place well.


(This post was edited by Zorba on Mar 20, 2010, 2:10 PM)


Hound Dog

Mar 20, 2010, 3:36 PM

Post #3 of 5 (3010 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Zorba] Tapachula and the Soconusco

Can't Post | Private Reply
Zorba:

Well put.

The thing that is puzzling about truly tropical towns such as Tapachula or New Orleans or Lagos or Iquitos is that they are never what they seem to be at first or even second glance and many first time visitors come away after brief visits with their prejudices intact or even re-enforced. In tropical urban environments with heavy air and moisture weighing down on (or, more appropriately, clinging to) a town of interspersed greenery and mildewed concrete or modest brick functional commercial structures and colorful inhabitants and surrounded by the lands and palaces of the cotton or hemp or cane growers or oil barons and their sedate mansions there is no emotion more compelling than employment and the notion of grits and collards for supper.

I don´t know about you but the nice thing about my existence on the periphery of these places is that I am not a part of them and can observe them and comment upon them without worrying as to from where my next meal or roof over my head will come.


Zorba

Mar 20, 2010, 5:13 PM

Post #4 of 5 (2994 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Hound Dog] Tapachula and the Soconusco

Can't Post | Private Reply
True Dawg. I think the same thing happened to me on my short trip to Tuxtla. I left there thinking there wasnt much to it. Surely I am wrong because I have found others making the same comments about Tapachula. Both of these small cities have some unique charm. Their location or "periphery" nature draws interesting characters that you would not normally encounter in a more mainstream location. These tropical like areas always seem to have a secretive, nothing is as it seems feel to them. They are a bit mysterious for some reason. Like the "manglares" that surround them, much is hidden.

Still, if someone were to ask me where they should settle down in Mexico I certainly would not recommend Tapachula. That area is just where I happened to end up due to circumstances. However, if they wanted to find a nice big piece of land in the countryside for cheap its a great place to go. Veracruz, etc. is lovely but very expensive by now. Chiapas is one of the last reasonably priced frontiers in Mexico.

Its true you need not worry about food and shelter too much. If worst comes to worst you can reach over and pick a mango or throw your hook in the sea. In Chiapas the people are poor, but not hungry thankfully.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Chiapas in the next decade or so. There are so many untapped resources there. I am afraid though that the same old story will be repeated. Already, I recently saw an article in the paper about Chiapaneco farmers complaining that their corn seed was being infiltrated by genetically modified seeds. According to the documentary "Food Inc." that I watched recently, this is one of the ways multinationals end up controlling food production. If X company's genetically modified seed gets mixed in with your seed, they can claim patent infringement. Eventually, all the local crops get infiltrated with the foreign seed and the farmers literally have no more of their own seed to plant. Well, that's a whole other story though.


Mac539

Mar 23, 2010, 7:47 AM

Post #5 of 5 (2887 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Zorba] Tapachula and the Soconusco

Can't Post | Private Reply
I have never been to this area but I suppose the heat is similar to Panama City. I used to find some shade and beer between 12-4 in the afternoon. I plan to visit after I find a dual sport motorcycle. Those trails over the dunes to the ocean are very intriguing, but not for me in a normal car.
Tim
 
 
Search for (advanced search) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.4