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My Summer Vacation in the South of Mexico

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Uxtla Gutierez, Chiapas, Mexico
Credit: John Harvey Williams

My summer vacation in the south of Mexico this year followed a rather circuitous route.  I left Oaxaca City in my trusty 1995 Silver Pathfinder in early June, arriving that same day in Puerto Escondido on Oaxaca’s beautiful coast where I needed to visit with clients and associates, as well as visit an incredible new listing I have in a very private ecological development on Punta Zicatela.

I stayed in a very nice, comfortable and beautifully-decorated Airbnb with a great view, king-size bed, kitchenette and off-street parking.  I always thoroughly enjoy Puerto Escondido.  It is called Puerto Escondido (hidden port) because many decades ago it was a very sleepy out of the way coffee-exporting port.  My how things have changed!  It was discovered by professional and amateur surfers to be a great surfing coast.  Now it is a thriving beach destination, though not over-developed.  It still has a distinctly hippie vibe, which I very much like as an old hippie with a ponytail, though now completely gray.

The main beach in Puerto Escondido descends south from the city-center to the Punta de Zicatela.  There are also several small bay beaches north of downtown, such as Carrizalillo.  Puerto also has many very good restaurants and numerous 2-to-5-star hotels.

The following day I was off to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas to meet my partner, who had arrived from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.  On the way I stopped in Puerto Arista, Chiapas to visit with a North American gentleman who sought my assistance in valuing a very interesting property he wants to sell after over a decade of thoroughly enjoying the very laid-back life in Puerto Arista.

Just before turning off the main highway to Puerto Arista, there is a very important transitional archeological site called Iglesia Vieja, or old church. I was very excited about seeing this site as I have a great interest in Mesoamerican art, particularly Olmec and Maya art.  Iglesia Vieja was going strong during the Pre-Classic Olmec period into the early years of the Maya.  Regrettably, it had just poured rain. After a couple of miles on a gravel road, and about to enter what appeared to be a section that was going through private property, I decided to let that adventure wait for another day.

I left the next day for Tuxtla Gutierrez, which I was excited about visiting for the first time.  It was both beautiful and charming.  I found a great little hotel in the Centro and began to explore. I have been a runner for over 30 years and found two huge and very beautiful public parks to run in.  The botanical garden was lovely and the Museo Regional a real treat.  Much to my surprise and delight I viewed for the first time the monumental Olmec bas- relief stone sculpture of the rain god Choc.  This extraordinary work of Pre-Classic Mesoamerican art has been very well known for many decades, but regrettably disappeared in the late 1960s.  I was very familiar with it from my art history days as an undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin.

The Choc sculpture resurfaced in a Parisian art auction house in 2014.  It turns out it was looted from its original home on the specific orders of a Parisian collector of Mesoamerican art. Following his death, his heirs attempted to sell it at auction. Since it was well known by all lovers of Olmec art, it was immediately recognized and confiscated for return to Mexico where it now is proudly displayed at the Museo Regional of Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Following our two nights in beautiful Tuxtla Gutierrez, we were off to Palenque via Chiapa de Corzo, San Cristobal de la Casas and Toniná. I’ll save that adventure for next time.

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