(Thursday) At 9am, Ivan the tour guide for the day trip to the Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa del Corzo showed up. I had been trying to communicate with the woman at the front desk (who had no English) regarding booking a cooking class at the final destination of the previous night’s tour. Ivan took to the task, and we left as she made the call again. I was the only passenger on our descent down from San Cristobal back into Tuxtla. The skies were clear, and Ivan would occasionally break from speaking Spanish with the driver to point out landmarks or to answer my questions. Once into the capital, we stopped at the Holiday Inn, which was the pick-up and rendezvous point. However, we were 30 minutes early, so I went out “foraging” for breakfast, finding an artisanal chocolate bar and a bottle of water. A trio from Mexico City arrived first, a Brazilian couple now from Australia followed, a Persian from Montreal and finally a pair of Spanish-speaking women arriving from the airport.
We set off for the dock where the boat would take us through the Sumidero Canyon. This involved passing through a pair of towns (San Fernando being the larger). There were several “vista points” where a photo opportunity would offer some great views across the reservoir, however we pushed through at greater than Kodak speed and arrived ahead of the second tour group with whom we would be sharing the boat. The single male from Montreal, Maz, and I chatted up and bonded, and with the couple from Oz, we sat in the launch together, as the Spanish speaking passengers were guided by the driver, while Ivan translated for us. Ivan’s services were also tapped into by the (immature, rowdy, inebriated) group of 6 from the States, part of the second group.
An hour of cruising at speed through the Sumidero Canyon gave us the opportunity to see waterfowl, spider monkeys, crocodiles, vultures, vegetation, and geology from this huge body of water. Created by one of four dams built by the Mexican government in the fifties, serious electricity is generated, enough to export to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. My journal notes that Ivan’s explanations were getting shorter as the trip progressed, although Maz and I tried to keep him engaged while the driver spoke.
The end of the canyon boat ride is in Chiapa del Corzo. A quaint small tourist destination, we debarked and the group walked up a hill to a church for a brief “tour” moment (outside) before we moved along to the central town square. Ivan gave us 45 minutes to have lunch, and the group split up. Maz and I wound up at La Cocina de la Tia, where I had chicken mole – and it was a delicious mole! It turned out Maz is vegan, so he skipped the chicken and cheese, but enjoyed the tortillas in mole. We got back to the plaza, got an explanation of the eight-sided structure therein, while waiting on the two women who’d arrived from the airport.
The driver pulled up and we boarded, and soon were on our way back up the mountain to San Cristobal. We dropped the Spanish-speaking folks first, then the couple from Australia. It turned out that Maz was expecting to return to Tuxtla, so after dropping me off, Ivan and the driver began making arrangements to send him back down the hill. The tour ends in San Cristobal, so this was a good way to get from Tuxtla after seeing the canyon.
There was no message regarding the cooking class at the hotel desk, so, since the card with the information was no longer available, I headed back to where the pox tasting had occurred and determined arrangements needed to be made through WhatsApp. I initiated this text-based dialog while enjoying a beer in the courtyard. The Iraqi restaurant there didn’t appeal, so once the beer was done, I checked out the art gallery (and saw a work I really liked, but it was due to be part of an exhibition. The artist uses his hands to paint with oils.) I headed back to the “French” plaza where a troop of brass players with a couple of drummers were entertaining strollers.
Spotting a Cocina Oaxaqueña, I was seated at Nostalgia with a glass of the house cab-malbec blend. I ordered a starter of papas frites con ajo and a main of tlayudas. [Fried potatoes with garlic, and large tortilla dehydrated with lard, refried beans, quesillo, avocado, cabbage, beef and chorizo.] Seated across and up from me (as we were within the courtyards of several adjoining buildings) was a foursome of Lithuanians with a small child who was obviously just starting to walk and required constant attention.)
Spicy vinegar-marinated carrot slices came with chips and two salsas: one a spicy sesame soy, the other a red that was a bit milder. Enough to keep me occupied until my meal arrived. The thinly sliced potatoes had been slightly fried in garlic infused olive oil (and if hot, would have been out-of-this-world). The quesadilla was stuffed well, folded, and cut into two quarter-circles. Not enough avocado for me, and the cool ground meat needed a binder to keep it from going all over the plate. I was getting used to cool food, I guess. I strolled back to the hotel, copied photos, did some email and reading, and zonked out.