The Tule Tree

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The Tule Tree just outside Oaxaca City is one of the little known wonders of Mexico. A Montezuma cypress roughly estimated to be around 1,400 years old, the Tule Tree has a circumference of 42 meters (138 ft), greater than any known tree in the world. To find a competitor which is even roughly approaches the Tule Tree, skeptics have to play some serious mathematical games. The massive plume of green foliage is so large that it Continue…

Sumidero Canyon

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I have to admit it’s been a while since we featured a purely natural attraction on the blog. Clearly, we’ve been enjoying colonial city life a little too much. To mix it up, we pried ourselves away from cobblestone streets and multi-colored casas and did a boat tour through the spectacular Sumidero Canyon in the state of Chiapas.

Entering through the southern end of the canyon at Chiapa de Corzo, we were quickly swallowed up by vertical walls reaching heights of up to 800 meters or more. Absolutely breathtaking! The two-and-a-half-hour tour travels 35 kilometers through the canyon and across a resevoir to Continue…

Casa Lily – Apartment with a View

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After only a day in San Cristobal de las Casas, we totally fell in love with the town and decided to stay a little longer than we had originally planed. So we moved from our hotel to the lovely Casa Lily Ixim. After our wonderful experience in Merida, this was yet another special find as the casa is truly unique.

Designed and built by Swiss artist and architect Frédéric Burkhard, the apartment boasts lots of light, interesting angles, organic forms and an amazing view of Guadalupe Church. But what really impressed us were the Continue…

San Cristobal Tribal Markets

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Without a doubt, the highlight of any trip to beautiful San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas is a visit to the regional markets full of colorful Tzotzil and Tzeltal people. We explored the local market here in San Cristobal as well as the markets in Tenejapa, San Lorenzo Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula. It’s a feast for the senses and a quick course in the diversity of the region. Each village features unique local garb. Don’t miss the black, rug-like skirts of San Juan Chamula and the elaborately embroidered designs of San Lorenzo Zinacantan.

If you visit, try to get to those markets early to catch stunning processions of locals as they leave the church on market day. This is the best time to see everyone decked out in colorful turbans, heavy ponchos, and ribboned hats. (And don’t miss their very cool traditional footwear.) As in neighboring Guatemala, if you do decide to visit less touristed markets such as Tenejapa, be very careful Continue…

Palenque

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The archaeological site of Palenque has been on our must-see list for over a decade. When we visited Tikal in Guatemala in 2001, we were very close to crossing the border into Mexico, but decided to put off Palenque for a future adventure. And now, here we are.

What makes Palenque even more special to us is that it is our last Mayan site on the Yucatan Peninsula. As we move west, we will be encountering other pre-Columbian civilizations, but in terms of Mayan ruins, this is it. So did Palenque hold up to our expectations and was it a worthy contender as our lasting image of a Mayan site? Continue…

Colossal Stone Heads of La Venta

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Parque-Museo La Venta in Villahermosa is one of the most unique, well conceived museums we’ve ever encountered. Created in 1958, the park-museum was designed to house relocated Olmec treasures that were threatened by petro-chemical development near the original La Venta archaeological site in northern Tabasco. Those priceless treasures include three colossal stone heads as well as many other very impressive examples of Olmec sculpture and carving.

Olmec art is very old (1,000 – 500 BC) and unique; it immediately stands out from other pre-Columbian art because of its simplicity and modern aesthetic. (Much of the smaller sculpture could almost be mistaken for contemporary Japanese art.) There are also some intriguing cylindrical basalt structures and monoliths that leave visitors with many questions.

Such unique art requires an equally unique environment. Rather than being just another series of indoor rooms, Parque-Museo La Venta is a Continue…