Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chiapa de Corzo

Chiapa de Corzo was the first place we spent the night after arriving from Mexico City via Houston and Denver.  It is located between Tuxtla Gutierrez (where we flew into) and San Cristobal de las Casa which are connected by the Panamerican Highway and was the first official Spanish settlement in present-day Chiapas, Mexico.

Located along the Grijalva River, the town claims it has one of the largest zocalos (main plaza) in Mexico.  What makes this zocalo so special is La Pila (the fountain).  Constructed in 1562 featuring classic Mudejar (Moorish) and Gothic features.  It is octagonal in shape with eight arches; it is said to resembles the Spanish crown.  It was the Dominican, Rodrigo de Leon, Spain, that was responsible for its construction.  Its circumference is 52 meters and measures 12 meters in height.
There are numerous arches and flying buttresses extending from each of its corners.  There was once a system of pipes that drew water from the river into the fountain's central basin which supplied the town its water supply and was a place for socializing and doing laundry.
It was just recently restored in the last year.
Made entirely of red-orange brick, some in a form of a diamond.
There are portales (a series of arches) on one side of the plaza with businesses and restaurants.  Most towns have the main church right on the plaza, not so here, it is set back from the plaza by one block.
Another important feature is the La Pochota or La Ceiba, the Kapok tree.  According to tradition, the Spanish town was founded around this tree.  La Ceiba can reach over 250 tall with a 10' diameter trunk with parts resembling extension buttresses.   A sacred Maya symbol, it is believed that La Ceiba was a link between the underworld, the material world and the heavens.
The white and pink flowers emit a bad odor which attracts bats.  As the bats move from flower to flower dining on the nectar, they transfer pollen on their fur, thus aiding in pollination. The kapok tree does its own job in pollination, it can produce 500 and 4,000 fruits at one time, with each fruit containing 200 seeds. When these fruit burst open, silky fibers spread the seeds all over the forest.
The wood, light weight, is used in carvings and canoes.  The silky fiber from the pods is a common material used for fill in upholstery.  
Also on the plaza is the municipal palace and the former home of Liberal governor Angel Albino Corzo (statue of him above), for whom the town is partially named. 
It's a pretty little town, a great place to spend the night and the perfect place to launch the boat up the river into the Canon de Sumidero.

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